Ubuntu prepares for ARM-based servers

By Dave Bailey
10 Oct 2011 View Comments
Canonical Ubuntu logo

Linux vendor Canonical is to make the latest iteration of its operating systems for client and server, Ubuntu 11.10, available for download this Thursday.

In addition, a technology preview targeting ARM-based servers will also be made available, and the company will also launch a new package for deploying the Ubuntu 11.10 server, called Juju. This package allows enterprises to set up a cloud-based version of Ubuntu 11.10.

Ubuntu ARM-based server Technology Preview

Further reading

The server software for ARM based hardware is arguably the most interesting aspect of the Ubuntu 11.10 launch.

ARM-based servers are important for enterprises because, although on sheer processing power Intel x86-based platforms are superior, ARM systems could give better (lower) power consumption.

Canonical said in a statement: “The ARM architecture is believed to have the potential to dramatically improve the performance of datacentres per watt density.”

Power consumption has always been a very important consideration for enterprises deploying large numbers of server systems to support on-premise cloud system rollouts, and is likely to become the main determinant in future.

Canonical server product manager Mark Baker said: “As people move towards large systems to provide compute resource, server density and power consumption start to become more relevant issues for them.”

“We have been addressing this problem in a number of ways. We have been working with Intel on the advances that they have made, and other technologies such as PowerNap to improve server efficiency,” explained Baker.

PowerNap is a technology that is potentially able to reduce server idle time power consumption significantly.

However, Baker explained that it was still early days with ARM, that 11.10 is just a technology preview, and that firms will not be downloading this to put in production any time soon.

"But we recognise that people are interested in ARM, that the hardware is developing rapidly, and that servers are on the drawing boards,” he said.

“Early adopters of these technologies will be firms with huge amounts of servers keen to reduce their power bills, by reducing server density. This tech preview positions us well for that,” said Baker.

Juju and Ubuntu server deployments for cloud compute systems

From Ubuntu’s point of view the major change to its enterprise cloud system is Juju, a new package for deployment, management and orchestration of Ubuntu’s server software enabling the creation of a cloud infrastructure.

Baker said: “In 2011 we’ve seen a lot of customers testing private and hybrid clouds and they are far more prevalent than they were, and so we needed to come to market with a stronger cloud product.”

Juju enables hosting providers and infrastructure and service developers to describe deployment and the scaling requirements of their applications, which helps to simplify and enhance the dialogue between developers and ops teams.

“It will simplify server deployment across multiple cloud providers and farms of physical servers running cloud-style workloads such as Hadoop,” added Baker.

Canonical chief executive Jane Silber said: “Ubuntu 11.10 gives forward-looking companies a chance to road-test the cloud and desktop technologies that will change the game for IT cost and performance.”

Ubuntu 11.10 for client, server and cloud and the Juju deployment system will be available for download from Ubuntu’s website on 13 October.



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