Software developer Canonical yesterday announced that it has released the latest version of Ubuntu, its popular free Linux operating system.
The consumer desktop version of Ubuntu 12.10, codenamed "Quantal Quetzal", advances some of the developments seen in 12.04 ("Precise Pangolin"), which was released earlier this year. Most of these are structured around better uniting the desktop and cloud, which Canonical claims will ease "the transition to a multi-device, cloud-based world." This suggests that the software platform developer is intending to offer more direct competition to Microsoft, which will release the updated version of its own OS, Windows 8, next week.
Among the major changes in 12.10 are significant updates to the Dash command centre. In addition to documents, files, and other information stored locally, it can now also display results from services like Google Drive, Flickr, and Facebook, as well as other sites that require special online authentication. Even paid and free content from both the Amazon and the Ubuntu One Music Store is searchable with the new Dash.
The Dash also looks better, with larger and more informative previews of search results as they become available. For example, Canonical touts the ability of the OS to display a track listing of an album the Dash's search has found, and even play it within the preview screen.
Web Apps transforms the Ubuntu desktop into an online portal, giving you access to popular sites and applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, eBay, and Gmail without requiring you to first launch a browser. The Ubuntu One personal cloud service with 5GB of free storage is now available as a native app on Mac OS X, in addition to Windows, iOS, and Android.
Of special interest to power users is a new remote log-in option that lets users connect to a Citrix, VMWare, or Microsoft system running on a desktop virtualisation server.
For business users, the server version of Ubuntu 12.10 includes the Folsom release of OpenStack, as well as improved deployment and management tools for working with distributed applications across private and public clouds, x86 or ARM servers, and developer laptops alike.
This newest version of OpenStack introduces Cinder (for block storage) and Quantum (a virtual networking API). Ubuntu Server 12.10 is also the first OS that supports Open Attestation in an OpenStack environment. The Intel software uses a cryptography key to authenticate cloud images, so developers can worry less about virtual machines presenting security risks. Juju, the service orchestration tool, is now natively supported on OpenStack clouds running Ubuntu, greatly expanding the number of places in which it can be used and facilitating migration from one cloud to another. It also has a new graphical interface that visually represents relationships between services as you add or deploy them.
Ubuntu's Metal-as-a-Service bare-metal provisioning tool has also been updated in Ubuntu Server 12.10, and now supports Calxeda hyperscale hardware based on ARM, letting users easily deploy services to bare-metal clusters using old or new hardware.
Both desktop and server releases of Ubuntu may now be downloaded from the Ubuntu website.