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Ubuntu 13.10 takes aim at Microsoft, Apple, Google

Tom Henderson, ExtremeLabs, Inc. | Jan. 7, 2014
Canonical is making a serious run at the cloud, client, server and smartphone markets.

The Dash update, however, is deceptively handy. Yes, Amazon is featured prominently in searches for products. A sampling of various queries was enlightening, and OCD query searchers will become rapidly addicted to the amount and variety of results, when using the uprated Dash. It's perhaps the key secret sauce that makes this edition useful.  

Inside this version are updates of the Linux kernel (3.11), Firefox (24), and when we tried to update SAMBA 4.04, it cratered the instance, even though a prior version was installed. The second time was a charm.

Ubuntu Server 13.10
Through installation, we saw no real server changes on the surface. We could choose to install Open SSH, DNS, LAMP, Mail, Print, SAMBA, Tomcat, and/or virtual machine hosts or add a Postgre database. Or our own manual package selection from the installation menu. We tried various combinations in several instances.

Oddly, Canonical still packages MySQL as its default LAMP database, where many in the industry have gone to MariaSQL, a fork of MySQL. Perhaps it's been retained for compatibility sake — and the fact that Oracle can be hired to make it work.

Part of the reason we like Ubuntu Server 13.10 is the ability to use Juju to spawn app instances into Linux Containers/LXC. Our problem with this is that LXC isn't due to go to production (a 1.0 version) until February of 2014. If you're adventurous, and we were, it's possible to use a Juju charm to deploy applications into containers that are similar to Oracle/Sun's original idea of a container — with a few additions, such as a bridge with network address translation and unique IP addresses (only IPv4 for now), and other walled-instances that remind us of how SELinux and other neo-virtualization systems can place significant walls around app instances within servers.

The LXC components start with a shared bridge, and several other adaptations that define kernel name space, and kernel addressing — but not those found in full bare-metal hypervisors, rather, the kind championed by Parallels in their Virtuozzo kernel-sharing scheme. Instances aren't necessarily unique, and they're not as simple as chroot, which redefines user space for partitioning an application.

Prior to 13.10, Juju's behavior was to dutifully launch applications into their own instance, which was fast, but wasn't very efficient, and made a lot of revenue for cloud providers, as they often charge by the instance. It's possible, using the pre-production LXC method, to launch apps into their own containers, and provision the containers on the fly with comparatively simple commands. But this is alpha code, and is still experimental in nature, rather than more mature products whose rules and qualities are comparatively well known.


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