When you are looking for inspiration beyond the looming Jaunty feature freeze, I hope you’ll think of the Koala, our official mascot for Ubuntu 9.10. And if you’ll bear with me for a minute I’ll set the scene for what we hope to achieve in that time.
A good Koala knows how to see the wood for the trees, even when her head is in the clouds. Ubuntu aims to keep free software at the forefront of cloud computing by embracing the API’s of Amazon EC2, and making it easy for anybody to setup their own cloud using entirely open tools. We’re currently in beta with official Ubuntu base AMI’s for use on Amazon EC2. During the Karmic cycle we want to make it easy to deploy applications into the cloud, with ready-to-run appliances or by quickly assembling a custom image. Ubuntu-vmbuilder makes it easy to create a custom AMI today, but a portfolio of standard image profiles will allow easier collaboration between people doing similar things on EC2. Wouldn’t it be apt for Ubuntu to make the Amazon jungle as easy to navigate as, say, APT?
What if you want to build an EC2-style cloud of your own? Of all the trees in the wood, a Koala’s favourite leaf is Eucalyptus. The Eucalyptus project, from UCSB, enables you to create an EC2-style cloud in your own data center, on your own hardware. It’s no coincidence that Eucalyptus has just been uploaded to universe and will be part of Jaunty – during the Karmic cycle we expect to make those clouds dance, with dynamically growing and shrinking resource allocations depending on your needs. A savvy Koala knows that the best way to conserve energy is to go to sleep, and these days even servers can suspend and resume, so imagine if we could make it possible to build a cloud computing facility that drops its energy use virtually to zero by napping in the midday heat, and waking up when there’s work to be done. No need to drink at the energy fountain when there’s nothing going on. If we get all of this right, our Koala will help take the edge off the bear market.
If that sounds rather open and nebulous, then we’ve hit the sweet spot for cloud computing futurology. Let me invite you to join the server team at UDS in Barcelona, when they’ll be defining the exact set of features to ship in October.
First impressions count. We’re eagerly following the development of kernel mode setting, which promises a smooth and flicker-free startup. We’ll consider options like Red Hat’s Plymouth, for graphical boot on all the cards that support it. We made a splash years ago with Usplash, but it’s time to move to something newer and shinier. So the good news is, boot will be beautiful. The bad news is, you won’t have long to appreciate it! It only takes 35 days to make a whole Koala, so we think it should be possible to bring up a stylish desktop much faster. The goal for Jaunty on a netbook is 25 seconds, so let’s see how much faster we can get you all the way to a Koala desktop. We’re also hoping to deliver a new login experience that complements the graphical boot, and works well for small groups as well as very large installations.
For those of you who can relate to Mini Me, or already have a Dell Mini, the Ubuntu Netbook Edition will be updated to include all the latest technology from Moblin, and tuned to work even better on screens that are vertically challenged. With millions of Linux netbooks out there, we have been learning and adapting usability to make the Koala cuddlier than ever. We also want to ensure that the Netbook Remix installs easily and works brilliantly on all the latest netbook hardware, so consider this a call for testing Ubuntu 9.04 if you’re the proud owner of one of these dainty items.
The desktop will have a designer’s fingerprints all over it – we’re now beginning the serious push to a new look. Brown has served us well but the Koala is considering other options. Come to UDS for a preview of the whole new look.