Canonical’s Ubuntu 18.04 LTS brings AI, ML, multi-cloud and other improvements

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Canonical has officially released Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (long-term support), a major update which brings plenty of improvements including network and storage improvements, as well as an improved support for Nvidia General Purpose GPU (GPGPU).

While it is mostly considered as the desktop Linux distribution, Ubuntu is much more than that and the latest release just shows its dedication to some rather important aspects like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as network and storage improvements.

Designed to run on computing devices, network servers or the cloud, Ubuntu is pretty much a what all major public instances are running, including Azure, AWS, Oracle, and others, so it does not surprise that Canonical is focusing on those aspects.

In a conference call interview with ZDNet, Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical’s CEO and Ubuntu’s founder, was quite keen to note that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is now the fastest and most efficient OS for cloud computing, especially for storage and compute-intensive tasks like machine learning.

Canonical has taken a stab at VMware with its OpenStack deployment which significant savings and “modern, developer friendly UI”. Canonical was also quite keen to note that the Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) runs on public clouds, OpenStack, bare metal and VMware.

Canonical has been working with Nvidia to improve public cloud GPGPU support, bringing Nvidia GPGPU hardware acceleration to the Unbuntu 18.04 LTS and has been working closely with Google, IBM, and Nvidia to improve Ubuntu’s machine learning support.

The big update is he Kubeflow, a Google Tensorflow for Kubernetes, which was launched last year.

“Having an OS that is tuned for advanced workloads such as AI and ML is critical to a high-velocity team,” said David Aronchick, product manager of Cloud AI at Google. “With the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Canonical’s collaborations to the Kubeflow project, Canonical has provided both a familiar and highly performant operating system that works everywhere. Whether on-premise or in the cloud, software engineers and data scientists can use tools they are already familiar with, such as Ubuntu, Kubernetes, and Kubeflow, and greatly accelerate their ability to deliver value for their customers.”

Canocial also introduces LDX container hypervisor for moving legacy workloads to containers. It uses the so called “machine container”, which behaves likes virtual machines and can contain full Linux guest system giving a tradition environment for legacy applications, promising bare metal performance with no hypervisor latency.

Canonical also talked about the new Hyper-V-optimised images developed in cooperation with Microsoft, offering better virtual machine experience of Ubuntu on Windows.

While it might sound that the company is focusing on cloud and server side, there are plenty of improvements on the desktop side as well, with the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS featuring a default GNOME desktop as a replacement for its Unity desktop and native support for KDE, MATE and Budgie desktops.

The company also talked about its snap package manager system, Snaps, claiming that there are more than 3,000 snaps published including official releases from Spotify, Skype, Slack, and Firefox.

There is also a basic Linux desktop version with core desktop and browser as well as Windows desktop as an option.

While it still might be the most popular Linux distribution for most users, it is obvious that Canonical is now focusing on cloud and server market, bringing some improvements that will put a lot of pressure on some big players in that market.

You can check out more information about all the improvements and updates over at Canonical’s extensive blog post or download the image of your choice at the Ubuntu.com site.