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Canonical switches to OpenStack for Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud
May 13, 2011

Canonical has announced that Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud will adopt the OpenStack cloud platform over Eucalyptus. In other Ubuntu-related news, an Ubuntu 11.04-based Linux Mint 11 release candidate (RC) was announced that opts for the GNOME 2.32.1 desktop environment over both Canonical's Unity and GNOME 3.0.

Enterprises interested in using Ubuntu Server to power their cloud infrastructure will be using the OpenStack cloud platform and not Eucalyptus, Canonical announced. The decision was not entirely unexpected.

Future versions of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud package will be based on the OpenStack as a foundation technology, Canonical said at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Budapest, Hungary, on May 10. The shift comes less than two weeks after Canonical included OpenStack support for the first time in Ubuntu 11.04 ("Natty Narwhal"), as promised back in February.

"The Ubuntu team has been working closely with the OpenStack project and this will form a strong basis for [the] Ubuntu Cloud product in the future," Canonical said in a statement.

OpenStack has built up a lot of momentum since Rackspace and NASA joined forces in 2010 to launch a fully open source, standards-based cloud platform. NASA used the technology for its Nebula internal cloud and Rackspace uses OpenStack ObjectStorage in its cloud storage platform.

Cisco has submitted a network-as-a-service proposal for OpenStack. Less than a year old, the cloud project has more than 60 contributing partners, including NASA, Rackspace, Dell, Intel, AMD, Citrix, Cisco, Brocade, and Canonical. The development team released the latest version, "Cactus," in April.

"The OpenStack project has developed significant user, developer and industry attention over the last year as it has matured," stated Canonical.

Until now, the cloud software stack in Ubuntu was Eucalyptus, which uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) APIs to create an Amazon-like infrastructure in a private environment. Eucalyptus had to be modified to support the KVM hypervisor, which is what Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud uses, versus the Xen hypervisor, which Amazon uses on its cloud service. When some observers criticized Eucalyptus for its reliance on Amazon APIs, Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems, claimed that the Amazon EC2 API was widely used across the industry and should be considered a de-facto standard.

Eucalyptus has been part of Ubuntu since version 9.04 was released in 2009.

The decision to switch was not entirely unexpected, as there has been a lot of discussion about the completely open source OpenStack and the not entirely so Eucalyptus. Back in March, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said one of the topics up for debate at the developer summit would be to decide which cloud project would be embedded into the Ubuntu stack going forward. The decision needed to be made in light of the work being done for the next long-term support (LTS) release of Ubuntu Server expected in April 2012.

The switch will happen with the next release of Ubuntu Server, version 11.10, expected in October. Codenamed Oneiric Ocelot, the server release will also include a set of migration tools to help users move their Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud deployments from Eucalyptus to OpenStack.

Eucalyptus hasn't been dropped entirely, as Canonical will still support Eucalyptus as a stand-alone application in future versions of the server operating system. Ubuntu 11.10 will have support for Eucalyptus 3.0 and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS will be available until April 2015. The next LTS release is version 12.04.

"Eucalyptus will remain within Ubuntu and will be available for users who prefer this technology," Canonical said.

Mickos bragged on the company blog that more than 25,000 clouds have been installed using Eucalyptus. OpenStack has more than 20,000 downloads to date. In addition, Internap rolled out XIPCloud Storage using OpenStack in January.

Linux Mint 11 RC released -- without Unity

In other Ubuntu-related news, a release candidate (RC) for Linux Mint 11 ("Katya") was unleashed this week. As usual, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and the GNOME desktop, but although it mimics Ubuntu 11.04, it has decided to forego the new default Unity desktop environment.

Linux Mint 11 RC

This development release version of Linux Mint 11 offers GNOME, but it's the earlier GNOME 2.32.1, not the new GNOME 3. Both Unity and GNOME 3 have proven to be controversial in the Linux community, with many claiming that in a bid to attract new, less technical users, the radical new user interfaces have been dumbed down, offering less flexibility and configurability.

Based on Linux kernel 2.6.38 and X.Org 7.6., Linux Mint 11 RC adds the new LibreOffice productivity suite in place of, which is quickly being eclipsed by the forked LibreOffice. In addition, gThumb replaces F-Spot for photos, Banshee replaces Rhythmbox for music, and Twitter alternative Gwibber is no longer a default install, says the Mint project. Other new features include improvements to multimedia codecs, as well as the software and update managers.

In other recent desktop Linux news, the Linux Foundation announced keynotes for LinuxCon Japan, June 1-3, and Linux Expo of Southern California announced events for Software Freedom Day 2011 on Sept. 17. Both stories may be found on our sister site LinuxDevices, here.

Fahmida Y. Rashid is a writer for eWEEK. Eric Brown contributed to this story.

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