Ubuntu 11.10 to feature Arm support, cloud orchestration

Desktop, server editions to be released next week

The next version of Canonical's Ubuntu Linux distribution, to be released next week, will be the first to run on the Arm architecture, as well as the first edition to offer a new cloud service orchestration engine, called JuJu.

Canonical is due to release both the desktop and the server editions of its Linux-based distributions next Thursday. "It's early days, but its something to keep your eyes on," said Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical, who introduced the new features at the OpenStack conference, being held this week in Boston.

Ubuntu 11.10 will also come with the latest OpenStack cloud software, called Diablo, along with a new cloud services orchestration engine.

The distribution "is a good fit for big data workloads," Silber said.

The Arm architecture has grown increasingly popular in the past few years as manufacturers are creating more low-powered tablets powered with Arm chips. Microsoft announced that its next version of the Windows desktop OS, Windows 8, will run on Arm.

On the server side, however, Arm is not as widely used. Microsoft has no plans to port its Windows Server OS to Arm.

Canonical's Arm version of Ubuntu is not completely polished yet, Silber admitted.

"I know none of you are building your cloud on Arm architecture yet, but its a very promising architecture, and we're very proud to be working with the leaders in that part of the ecosystem to bring that new capability to the open source world first. It's a significant move," she said.

On the show floor, Canonical demonstrated a server running on an Arm processor. The server was assembled by Canonical by hand, as few, if any, hardware manufacturers sell Arm-based servers yet.

During her talk, Silber, along with an assistant, also demonstrated JuJu, open source software developed by Canonical that can be used to automate the start-up and shutting down of cloud services running on OpenStack.

A service is any routine job that is run on a cloud platform, Silber explained. JuJu provides the ability for administrators to package all the routine actions that needed to be taken to spin up a job on the machine.

The demonstration involved spinning up a version of Hadoop that ran across multiple servers, an act that took only a few minutes across a 72-core node.

"Think of services like [software] packages," Silber said. "On Ubuntu, ask for a package and it is there, You remove it and its gone. Services are the same way. When you ask for a service it is there, when you remove it, it is gone."

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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