The future of Ubuntu revealed

But that's our biggest first-72-hour launch of a new title. And new titles are coming in there all the time. We still have work to do. It's too early to declare it a success and go home. There's work around providing a more coherent SDK to allow people to develop for the platform.

LXF: That's a challenge on Linux in particular, with goalposts often moving.

JS: Yeah, and it's the embarrassment of riches. You have all these toolkits you can use, as opposed to the narrow selection that other platforms give. It's great, but sometimes that creates a barrier to entry where people just don't know where to start. And that's what we've done some work around, not limiting choice but providing a narrow on-ramp that app developers can follow. Things like Quickly, and

LXF: Looking towards the server, I know recently that you increased your support life cycle to five years…

JS: Our LTS releases used to be three years on the desktop and five on the server, and we made two changes. One was bringing the desktop up to five years, and that was in response to enterprise demand.

And the second change we made was to make a stronger commitment around making those LTS versions available on new hardware as it comes out, so that people can get hardware refreshes and still maintain a stable software platform across the enterprise.

So we'll make the 12.10 kernel work with 12.04 and the 13.04 kernel work with 12.04. So if you need that kernel for hardware support, it will be available.

LXF: Red Hat recently announced it was increasing its server support cycle from, I think it was, seven years to 10 years; does Ubuntu feel any pressure to match that?

JS: We're not seeing that right now. I think the reason is the different use cases in terms of people who use Red Hat and people who use Ubuntu. And, interestingly, we're seeing pressure almost in the opposite direction.

One of the things that's happening in the server world is that everything cloud-related is so fast moving, it's not realistic to think you're going to do something now and want the same tools and software in 10 years. What we see is people wanting the stability of the base OS, but wanting new hardware support for one, and newer software for cloud-related activities.

So, they want the new OpenStack, for example, on a 12.04 LTS base, so that's another thing we've committed to do with 12.04. In six months' time, you'll be able to get the newest OpenStack. 12.04 shipped with OpenStack Essex; but when Folsom comes out, the next version, people are going to want that not just on Ubuntu 12.10, but also on 12.04, which is for stable production.

LXF: This week you're at Computex, and one of your big announcements is that you're demoing Ubuntu on an ARM platform. Are there any real-world deployments of that yet? Where has the demand come from?

JS: The motivation for it comes from scalable, power-efficient, low-cost energy drivers. There's real customer interest in it too, but it's very early and there's not… hardware doesn't exist in production environments yet. There are no case studies yet, it's that early.

People are excited about the promise of it, and hardware is starting to show up. Calxeda has demonstrated some hardware at UDS a few weeks ago, MiTAC is the company in Taiwan that we've demonstrated an ARM server with in Taipei, and HP has announced its project Moonshot, which will be its ARM server. So there's real hardware, and it's being used in largely test and development areas, where people are exploring the workloads, are exploring how to optimise for it, but it is very real. But it is very early days.