The next iteration of Ubuntu Linux will really help companies lift up into the clouds.
The April 30 release of Ubuntu Server will have the ability to migrate KVM-based virtual machines from one physical server to another, similar to VMware's ability to use VMotion to migrate VMs, said Steve George, director of the enterprise group at Linux supplier Canonical.
KVM is the Kernel Virtual Machine, an open source hypervisor that was produced by Israeli company Qumranet. Red Hat purchased Qumranet last year. Qumranet developer Avi Kivity submitted KVM to the Linux kernel development process, and it was included in a refresh of the kernel in early 2007.
In addition, Canonical is adding clustering software that will manage a set of x86 Ubuntu servers as if they were a combined cloud resource. If a virtual workload is assigned to the cluster, Ubuntu's new "cloud controller" will determine which server to deploy it to, no further administrative action needed. In effect, it will balance the load, based on policy decisions that the cluster administrator has put into the controller, George said in an interview.
The cloud controller will be a "tech preview" feature that won't be considered stable and available for production use until Ubuntu Server 9.10 is released. According to the Ubuntu naming convention, which lists the year and month of the release, 9.10 will become available in October.
Ubuntu Server 9.04 will have an additional "cloud" feature as it comes out of the blocks at the end of April. It will be available to run in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, George said.
Ubuntu developers began "cloud computing away about a year ago," said George, as members of the Ubuntu community talked about their experiences in using Amazon EC2. The development team wants Ubuntu Server users to be able to put Ubuntu on a set of x86 servers and then build inside the company an Amazon-compatible cloud.
"You will be able to start investigating cloud capabilities," said George. Ubuntu will incorporate the open source Eucalyptus Project APIs, which seek to mimic Amazon's proprietary APIs in open source code. "The Amazon APIs are well understood, and the Eucalyptus Project has a great team doing work in this area," he added.
Canonical isn't committed to incorporating every Eucalyptus API into Ubuntu Server, but it expects to include enough of them to give its users a chance to build an Amazon cloud look-alike and gain experience from it. Although the notion remains unproven, it's hoping to expand its use among cloud enthusiasts who would see such an internal cloud as having the ability to export to or federate with Amazon's EC2.
Updates to Ubuntu Desktop 9.04 and Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 also will be available April 30, as well as Ubuntu Server for free download.
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