Ubuntu 8.10 Shows Linux OS Is Now Mature, Preludes Mobile Platform

Canonical released Ubuntu 8.10 (or Intrepid Ibex to stick to its project codename) and it is not hard to see that the leading Linux distribution is now evolving into a fully fledged contender to MacOSX and Windows Vista.

The new version of the OS - build using v2.6.27 of the Linux Kernel and Gnome 2.24 - can be freely downloaded from dozens of file servers worldwide and is a major milestone both for the client and desktop versions.

The former now adds enhanced support for 3G and WiFi connectivity and brings in the ability to boot from external USB drive. The Graphical User Interface has also been upgraded since the last version, 8.04 - Hardy Heron.

In addition, Ubuntu users will be able to get free programmes from the BBC no matter where they are although it is unknown whether programming on demand is part of the bundle.

The server version improves on a number of features like networking, virtualisation, security and user management as well as a "fully-supported" Java stack.

Jane Silber, COO of Canonical and head of Online Services for Canonical, said that "Ubuntu 8.10 sees us lay the groundwork for a radically different, more mobile, desktop computing environment over the next two years" which could be a precursory sign that Ubuntu may concentrate more on the red-hot mobile segment soon.

Already, Ubuntu has a Mobile Internet Device edition but chances are that we will see even more of the OS in embedded systems, smartphones and mobile phones in the forthcoming months.

However, Ubuntu has not seen any significant increase in its user base, as various sources indicate that it has been hovering around 8 million since 2006 (see here and here).

Intrepid Ibex has only been in Alpha testing since June 2008 and went live a mere 16 weeks later; the next version of Ubuntu, Jaunty Jackalope is expected to be released in April next year.