Canonical has unveiled the latest release of its Ubuntu Linux distribution, which debuts several new capabilities including the Kilo version of the OpenStack cloud framework, a new container technology said to offer the security of a hypervisor, and the first outing of the firm's Snappy Ubuntu Core.
Ubuntu 15.04 will be available to download from 23 April, and continues the firm's push to drive the pace of developments in cloud computing, at least with the server version of the platform.
This is evident in the three key features of the new release: Ubuntu Core, OpenStack Kilo and the Linux Container Daemon (LXD) technology for containers.
Described by Canonical as a "hypervisor for containers", LXD is not actually a hypervisor, but is intended to provide similar levels of security and isolation for applications inside containers as a hypervisor delivers for those inside virtual machine instances.
"Containers are a hot topic. A lot of people are interested in using them to deploy and scale applications efficiently and rapidly," Canonical's Ubuntu product manager Mark Baker told V3.
"But while [containers] offer advantages like less processor overhead, the thing about virtual machines is they allow you to manage security profiles and live migration, which you can't do with something running as a kernel-based Linux container."
To address this, Canonical has developed LXD using a system-level Daemon to wrap each container in its own AppArmor security profile. This provides greater security, but without incurring the performance penalty of a hypervisor.
Importantly, LXD does not replace existing container technologies such as Docker. Instead, these run on top of LXD, Baker said. Ubuntu 15.04 also includes the latest Docker 1.5 release.
Supporting its use for operating containerised applications, this is the first Ubuntu release to be based on Canonical's Ubuntu Core, a pared-back version of the platform optimised for running containers that comes with a new transactional update mechanism called Snappy that enables applications and the operating system to be rolled back to a previous state if necessary.
Ubuntu Core strips out many of the libraries traditionally required to support applications, but the reason for this is that containerised applications include the specific libraries they need in order to make them completely self-contained.
Users can still download and install any libraries using conventional package managers if required.
Ubuntu 15.04 also includes the latest OpenStack release, Kilo, making Canonical the first OpenStack distributor to offer the new version of the cloud computing framework.
Kilo will also be back-ported to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the most recent version for which Canonical provides customers with long-term support.
Kilo itself brings a number of enhancements, such as federation support for the Keystone identity service which enables it to act as a provider for identity to third-party services, and supports federation between clouds, such as an on-premise cloud and one operated by a public cloud service provider.
Kilo also features an updated Neutron networking module which supports distributed virtual routing for better scalability, rather than relying on a single node to handle routing which can become a bottleneck for performance.
Canonical has included the Designate module in Ubuntu 15.04, intended to deliver "DNS as a service" capability to OpenStack, even though this is still a project under incubation and thus not officially a full part of OpenStack yet.
However, Baker said that Designate is already being deployed by some Ubuntu users, so Canonical took the decision to support it for customers.
Canonical has also included drivers for the Nova compute module to launch new services using LXD containers in an OpenStack cloud, Baker said.
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