Founded by SA billionaire Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu has become one of the most popular Linux distributions with each new release looked forward to eagerly by users.
The first release of Ubuntu in 2009 will be the April debut of Jaunty Jackalope, otherwise known as Ubuntu 9.04.
Following on, as is will, from the relatively conservative Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10 versions, most users will be looking forward to a release packed with exciting features.
Announcing Jaunty Jackalope last year, Shuttleworth said that the bar for the release was set very high. "We move into a year where we can reasonably expect Ubuntu to ship on several million devices, to consumers who can reasonably expect the software experience to be comparable to those of the traditional big OSV’s – Microsoft and Apple."
Shuttleworth is seeing the early part of 2009 as a critical period for Linux on the desktop. "It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to shine, and we want to make sure that the very best thinking across the whole open source ecosystem is reflected in Ubuntu, because many people will judge free software as a whole by what we do," he said.
Shuttleworth says that one of the priorities for Jaunty is to reduce the amount of time it takes to boot the system. "We want Ubuntu to boot as fast as possible – both in the standard case, and especially when it is being tailored to a specific device." Better boot times were also objectives for the Hardy and Intrepid releases. Intrepid, released in October 2008, sported a slightly faster boot time routine but on the whole never showed the speed that most users are now looking for. Hopefully that will be present in April’s Jaunty.
Shuttleworth also emphasises the need for Jaunty to blur the line between web services and desktop applications. As cloud computing become increasingly popular operating systems such as Ubuntu need to be integrating web applications into the desktop, just as we can expect Microsoft to do with its Windows 7 operating system.
Another thing that is likely to find its way into Ubuntu Jaunty is an interface overhaul. This has become something of a sticking point for Ubuntu developers over the past two releases. Most users expected a desktop refresh in Hardy but that only resulted in a few small tweaks in both Hardy and Intrepid. So Jaunty is long overdue for a desktop overhaul.
Ubuntu 9.04 will be released in April.