Canonical has released Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the latest version of its Linux distribution that offers long-term support (LTS) for commercial customers.
The announcement looks like it will be a significant one as it adds support for 64-bit ARM servers and is the first LTS release since Canonical began integrating the OpenStack cloud framework into the platform.
The new Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be available to download from 17 April, to coincide with availability of the latest OpenStack release, codenamed Icehouse. Canonical tied its Ubuntu release cycle to that of OpenStack when it began integrating the cloud platform into its server releases, to ensure customers got the latest code.
Mark Baker, product manager at Canonical, told V3 that this release is important for Ubuntu customers, as it is the first LTS build to include OpenStack.
"LTS gives customers the right balance between access to the latest technologies and the longevity of the support cycle, and the big new item is OpenStack Icehouse. So in 14.04, we're making a commitment to support Icehouse for five years for customers, which is also a pretty big deal," he said.
The move means that customers building out production environments based on OpenStack cloud infrastructure can be assured that they will not get pushed into upgrading before they are ready, Baker added.
Canonical is also beefing up the cross-platform capabilites of Ubuntu, with this release being the first to support 64-bit ARM architecture servers and the first to officially support IBM Power architecture servers as well.
In addition, it adds support for Intel's Avoton Atom processors, launched last year, which are aimed at microserver platforms for high-density data centre deployments.
Another new feature is the inclusion of the Docker open-source project for container-based virtualisation, as an alternative to full hypervisor-based virtualisation for deploying and managing applications and services.
"For environments like development and test where you might not need the same level of isolation, container technology has some benefits. You can easily spin up 50 containers within seconds, for example, whereas 50 virtual machines might be a bit tricky," Baker explained.
"Docker is really a wrapper around the LXC Container technology that's now in the Linux kernel, and the nice thing you can do is that when you replicate a Docker container, you don't need to replicate the whole thing, you can just sync the changes, and it makes it easier to manage containers" he added.
However, Docker is not included in Canonical's 'Main' list of officially supported components, as the project is expected to deliver updates on a more rapid cycle than the rest of Ubuntu.
"We will be supporting Docker for five years, but not necessarily the same version that will be in the release from day one," Baker said.
Other features in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS include the Juju service orchestration tool and Canonical's Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) tool for automatically provisioning bare metal servers in a cloud or data centre.
Ubuntu LTS releases are produced every two years and are supported and maintained for five years by Canonical under its paid-for professional support services.
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