After months of widespread anticipation, Canonical on Thursday released Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, a new Long-Term Support version of its popular Linux distribution that promises the extended support often sought by business users, in particular.
Bundled with five years of free security updates, the software aims to deliver a seamless migration path for organizations upgrading from Ubuntu 12.04, the previous Long-Term Support version.
Both desktop and server versions of Ubuntu 14.04 made their debut this week, each chock-full of powerful new features. Ready for some of the highlights? Here's what you can expect.
On the Desktop
A slicker experience awaits users of Ubuntu 14.04 on the desktop as a result of improvements to the Unity user interface, Canonical says, but there's also the option to test out convergence-minded Unity 8, which currently runs on Ubuntu phones and tablets. With support for multitouch track pads and touch screens as well as high pixel density screens, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be part of the first commercially available Ubuntu tablets.
Launching hard on the heels of Windows XP's end of life, meanwhile, Canonical is also pitching the new release as a compelling alternative for many businesses. That may not be an unreasonably optimistic proposition, either: A full 70 percent of CIOs will change their technology and sourcing relationships in the next 2 to 3 years, Gartner predicts.
“The 14.04 LTS release offers a solid, intuitive experience which is easy to manage,” said Canonical CEO Jane Silber. “It is a viable and affordable alternative for organizations considering a switch from Microsoft, and specifically those replacing XP or Windows 7 as they come to the end of life.”
Tools enabling the remote delivery of applications are included in the desktop version of Ubuntu 13.04, as is compatibility with Windows file formats, browser-based cloud solutions and the Microsoft Office-compatible LibreOffice suite.
In the Cloud
Of even greater interest to many enterprises, though, is the server version of Ubuntu 14.04, which is Ubuntu’s third LTS cloud release.
New versions of Juju and MAAS are also added to the mix "to design, deploy and scale services faster than any other platform available today, on cloud or bare metal," Canonical says. The new release integrates Open vSwitch for networking and Ceph for storage as well.
In short, "Ubuntu is now the enterprise platform supported on the widest range of modern architectures – IBM POWER, ARM64, x86, and x64," the company says.
Global enterprises including AT&T, Bharti, British Telecom, China Telecom, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Korea Telecom, NEC, NTT, Orange France, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Netflix and Instagram all use Ubuntu, Canonical notes.
“Ubuntu is the primary platform for cloud – public, private or hybrid," said Ubuntu and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth. "In this release, our third LTS with deep roots in cloud, we raise the bar for efficiency and orchestration at scale."