Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, has announced the desktop, server and netbook versions of Ubuntu 9.04.
Canonical on April 20 announced that Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop Edition is free to download from Thursday April 23 along with the server version of the operating system. The netbook version, known as the Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix, will be available on April 30.
According to Canonical, Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop Edition delivers a range of feature enhancements to improve the user experience. Shorter boot speeds, some as short as 25 seconds, ensure faster access to a full computing environment on most desktop, laptop and netbook models. Enhanced suspend-and-resume features also give users more time between charges along with immediate access after hibernation. Intelligent switching between Wi-Fi and 3G environments has been broadened to support more wireless devices and 3G cards, resulting in a smoother experience for most users.
In a statement, Jane Silber, chief operating officer at Canonical, said: "With every release, we see Ubuntu Desktop Edition make significant steps forward in appealing to mainstream computer users. With access to the latest office productivity suite, support for Skype and Adobe Flash, and faster boot times, we're confident that Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop Edition will see more people join millions of others and make the switch to an open platform."
Mark Shuttleworth, CEO and founder of Canonical, in a conference call with the press, said "It's an extraordinary time in the PC industry and 9.04 is an extraordinary release. We think it will be widely deployed. We think it's our best release ever."
Ubuntu 9.04 features OpenOffice.org 3.0, which gives users an office suite that is compatible with Microsoft Office. And a new integrated notification system appears in Ubuntu 9.04. This system combines the notification methods of various applications and presents that information in a simple, unobtrusive manner.
Moreover, new icons and artwork also appear in this release, part of the continual improvement of the Ubuntu user experience. Shuttleworth, in a 2008 speech, called for Linux developers to make the operating system as attractive as that of Apple's MacOS.
Matt Zimmerman, a technologist at Canonical, said one aim for 9.04 is continuing and growing the focus on meeting the everyday computing needs of more and more people. In addition, the company worked on a number of projects that support mobile usage scenarios, Zimmerman said.
"We wanted users to be able to boot up fast, suspend and resume any time, and get online very quickly," Zimmerman said. "We also have the first in a series of new design-led improvements - to work on improving the intrinsic experience of Ubuntu on the desktop."
Meanwhile, Canonical also announced Ubuntu 9.04 Server Edition, which enables businesses to deploy and manage their common workloads - Web, print, file, database and mail servers - more efficiently. New enhancements include improved virtualization with the latest KVM features, clustering support in Samba file server and easier mail server setup with out-of-the-box Dovecot-Postfix integration.
Canonical has also worked to extend the range of enabled servers for Ubuntu 9.04, with 45 of the most popular mid-range servers from IBM, Dell and Sun and HP tested in the Canonical labs, the company said.
In addition, Canonical officials said Ubuntu 9.04 Server Edition will preview Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC). Ubuntu is the first commercially supported Linux distribution to enable businesses to build cloud environments inside their firewalls, the company said. With Ubuntu 9.04 Server Edition, enterprises can explore the benefits of cloud computing without the data or security issues associated with moving data to an external cloud provider. In addition, following a successful beta program last year, Ubuntu Server Edition 9.04 will also be fully available on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
"Cloud is the new hotness," Shuttleworth said. "Cloud is a term used very vaguely; we decided to give it a very focused approach - elastic computing with Amazon EC2." Canonical has released a release candidate with Ubuntu on Amazon EC2, he said.
"We make it easier for companies to run larger systems more efficiently, a key benefit in financially challenging times," Silber said. "Backed up by a full range of professional services, including support from Canonical, larger businesses will find Ubuntu Server Edition 9.04 to be the most cost-effective, easy-to-deploy server platform for their production environments."