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Canonical almost ready to put Ubuntu in the cloud

Canonical's Ubuntu 11.04 may be out of the door but the firm is still busy trying to ready its widely touted cloud-based trial service.

Last week Canonical released Ubuntu 11.04, Natty Narwhal, which brought significant user interface changes to the Linux distribution. Canonical previously told thinq_ that the changes would help persuade Windows users over to Ubuntu, however another carrot in the shape of a live, cloud-based trial of Ubuntu 11.04 was dangled.

Canonical had already told us the trial would be available after the public release of Ubuntu 11.04, and now the outfit has said that it is working to put the final touches the ambitious system. Gerry Carr marketing manager at Canonical told thinq_: "We ran a beta of the online trial last week, which was largely successful in serving 13,000 sessions in 20 hours, but it did throw up some technical hitches which we want to fix before it goes live."

Carr's figures certainly paint an impressive picture and he warmed to his theme, saying that Canonical is working to fix those faults over the next few days but added that there wasn't a "definite go live date yet".

Although Carr had previously said that due to rendering limitations, Canonical will only serve up a 2D version of the Unity interface, the try-before-you-buy will almost certainly help Canonical pick up a few more floating users. It should also help dispel myths about Linux distributions having a steep learning curve.

The live online trial is Canonical's latest attempt to lower the barrier to entry of Ubuntu. Carr told thinq_ previously that even downloading and burning a LiveCD had put people off trying Ubuntu in the past. To try Ubuntu once its cloud-based trial gets off the ground, Carr said users would only require a web browser.

It's not surprising to see Canonical take time to add some spit and polish on the service, as it simply has to provide a smooth experience right from the get-go. If Canonical can make its live trial work successfully, it's likely that other operating system vendors will follow suit.