Ubuntu developer Canonical has officially released Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, the latest version of its enterprise-focused Linux distribution, which now includes provisioning and cloud computing features in its server build, and support for common desktop virtualisation platforms in its desktop build.
Available to download now, Ubuntu 12.04 is the fourth Long Term Support (LTS) release of the Linux platform, for which Canonical guarantees maintenance and security updates for five years.
Although aimed at enterprise users, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is free for anyone to download, with Canonical earning its revenue through technical support and services to corporate customers.
The server version has a number of enhancements to ease large-scale deployment of the platform, including support for cloud computing, with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS the reference platform for the OpenStack project, according to Canonical.
One of the most significant of these is Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS), a tool that enables an administrator to pull together a number of bare metal physical machines into a resource pool that can then be used as the infrastructure for a cloud or big data analytics deployment.
Another part of the provisioning picture is an updated version of the Juju orchestration tool, which can automate deployment of services such as Hadoop or OpenStack using best practices captured in what Canonical refers to as Charms.
Canonical has even committed to supporting future versions of OpenStack beyond the latest Essex release, as part of a special extension to its LTS policy.
"As institutions move to private cloud for new infrastructure, this release has everything required to become a mainstay of the enterprise computing environment," said Canonical chief executive Jane Silber.
On the desktop, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS now includes support for desktop virtualisation tools from Citrix and VMware in addition to Microsoft RDP 7.1, providing a way for users to access Windows applications from their Ubuntu workstation.
Canonical said that key parts of the code have been optimised to make this release more robust, boot up faster, and extend laptop battery life.
This release is also the first LTS build of Ubuntu to feature the Unity user interface, which is designed to replace both KDE and Gnome, while adding a new user interface tool the Head-Up Display (HUD), which enables users to directly launch applications and carry out actions by typing key phrases instead of trawling through menus.
Canonical said that Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is certified to run on over 20 laptop and desktop systems, with more set to follow.
"Thanks to our expanded hardware partnerships, we'll make regular updates to support new PCs from certified partners like Dell, HP and Lenovo. And we'll support even more companies that make the switch to Ubuntu on their desktops," said Silber.
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