Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat

Although Ubuntu Lucid Lynx has not yet been released, Canonical chief Mark Shuttleworth has already named its successor: Maverick Meerkat.

Ubuntu Lucid Lynx is due for release at the end of April while the newly named Maverick Meerkat is only scheduled for release in October. But, as is traditional, Shuttleworth used the remaining weeks of the Lucid development phase to lay down guidelines for the next phase.

In a post to his blog over the weekend, Shuttleworth said that key priorities for the October Ubuntu release were speed, cloud computing performance and high performance netbook support. In particular Shuttleworth said that Maverick Meerkat’s target was to be the “best desktop OS for a netbook, both for consumers and power users”.

He said that to achieve this the development team would be looking at a revamp of the existing Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) interface. “As computers become lighter they become more mobile, and we’ll work to keep people connected, all day, everywhere. We’ll embrace the web, aiming for the lightest, fastest web experience on any platform. The fastest boot, the fastest network connect, the fastest browser.”

Ubuntu’s Lucid Lynx beta version is already showing significant boot speed improvements over previous releases and has been widely praised for that.

Shuttleworth says that he is looking to better even that. He also says that he wants to see “Ubuntu and free software on every single consumer PC that ships from a major manufacturer, the ultimate maverick move”.

The social networking desktop which will be formally introduced with the release of Lucid Lynx in April will become an even more important part of the desktop in the Meerkat release, says Shuttleworth. In Lucid Lynx, social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, IRC, instant messaging, Status,net and Flickr are integrated into the desktop using the Me Menu and the Gwibber client. Users are able to post to and receive messages from any of their connected networks in one place.

“Social from the Start is our initiative to make the desktop a collaborative, social place,” said Shuttleworth.

“For the past five years, we’ve all been shifting more and more data into the web, to a series of accounts and networks elsewhere. Now it’s time to start to bring those social networks back into our everyday computing environment. Our address books and contact lists need to be synchronised and shared, so that we have the latest information everywhere – from mobile phones to web accounts.”

Cloud computing

On the other end of the scale Shuttleworth focused heavily on Ubuntu’s cloud computing initiatives. He said that the objective for Meerkat is to make it easier for enterprise users to build and manage cloud installations across a range of platforms and providers. “Ubuntu Server is already very popular on public clouds like EC2 and Rackspace, and now that Dell supports the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud for private cloud infrastructure, it’s possible to build workloads that run equally well in your data center or on the cloud.”

Meerkat should, in theory, be a more adventurous release than Lucid Lynx which is the latest in a line of Long Term Support releases which are traditionally more conservative. Lucid Lynx, however, has a range of features – social desktop, Ubuntu One Music – that are hardly conservative additions to the mix. Shuttleworth seems convinced, however, that Maverick Meerkat will be even more innovative, which is good news for users.

“This is a time of change, and we’re not afraid to surprise people with a bold move if the opportunity for dramatic improvement presents itself,” he said.

Lucid Lynx (Ubuntu 10.04) will be released on April 29. Maverick Meerkat (Ubuntu 10.10) will be released in October.

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Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat