Canonical has announced it is ready to go live with the 10.10 release of Ubuntu, codenamed Maverick Meerkat, on Sunday 10 October.
The company is most heavily promoting its Ubuntu Linux 10.10 Desktop and Netbook Editions for download, but is also ready to go live with the Ubuntu Linux 10.10 Server Edition.
The company is leading with the Desktop and Netbook Editions because it wants to retool Ubuntu as a consumer-friendly operating system, to help it compete on a level playing field with Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS.
The development team has given Ubuntu 10.10 the Unity user interface that is optimised for portable devices.
Canonical has also shrewdly kept the Ubuntu 10.10 release fully open and made it interoperable with Google's Android, Apple's iPhone and even Microsoft Windows. And there is a personal cloud service, Ubuntu One, which ties the cloud to a deeper level of services and expanded features within the OS.
The killer application, however, is the Ubuntu Software Centre, which is designed to offer an experience similar to Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market but for laptops and desktops.
"Ubuntu 10.10 for desktops and netbooks is our most consumer-friendly release yet," said Canonical chief executive Jane Silber.
"Ubuntu One's personal cloud services will put Ubuntu at the heart of many users' computing worlds even when they need or prefer to use other platforms. Unity has the opportunity to change how we think about our use of computers and the Software Centre will bridge Ubuntu with the applications users need to switch to the world's best OS."
Gerry Carr, head of platform marketing at Canonical, downplayed concerns that the consumer focus might alienate the platform’s hardcore Linux fans.
"It is strange as a Linux operating system to be criticised for too much focus on the user experience," he said.
“We can't be guilty of spending too much time on the end-user experience and the behind-the-scenes features. We strive to strike a balance in terms of effort between keeping the system secure, accessible and compatible with hardware, and making it good to use."
Carr also said that Canonical is aiming for quality over quantity with the Ubuntu Software Centre. He thinks that desktop apps have a longer life-span and are more fully featured than mobile apps.
“We don't see it joining the volume race to try and get hundreds of thousands of applications of sometimes dubious utility,” he added.
Ubuntu 10.10 can be downloaded for free from Sunday. Canonical has not put a UK price on the Ubuntu One Mobile or Ubuntu One 20-pack price. In the US, Ubuntu One Mobile will cost $3.99 per month or $39.99 annually. Ubuntu One 20-pack storage will cost $2.99 per month or $29.99 annually for each 20GB package.
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