Canonical releases Ubuntu 16.04 LTS featuring ‘snap’ package format, LXD pure-container hypervisor

Canonical is set to release Thursday Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, featuring the new ‘snap’ package format and LXD pure-container hypervisor with OpenStack Mitaka. It also supports IBM Z and LinuxONE systems with flat pricing, while taking steps towards converged Ubuntu across Internet of Things, phone, desktop, cloud computing and server.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS introduces a new application format, the ‘snap,’ which can be installed alongside traditional deb packages. These two packaging formats live quite comfortably next to one another and enable Ubuntu to maintain its existing processes for development and updates. The ‘snap,’ format is easier to secure and produce, while delivering operational benefits for organisations managing many Ubuntu devices, which will bring more robust updates and more secure applications across all form factors from phone to cloud.

‘Snaps’ mark an important milestone in Canonical’s efforts to create a converged Ubuntu across IOT, mobile and desktop. ‘Snaps’ originate from the world of IoT and ‘snappy’ Ubuntu Core, marking the convergence of Ubuntu’s desktop and IoT efforts, while building on the debut earlir this year of Ubuntu’s first tablet, which can be turned into a full PC. Supporting ‘snap’ packages on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS unifies the experience for Ubuntu developers, whether they are creating software for PC, server, mobile, and IoT devices.

“The leading cloud-based operations and the most advanced robotics run largely on Ubuntu, and this new release is the basis for the next wave of their innovation,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical. “We are proud to serve the needs of the enterprise, and research, and millions of personal and non-profit users, with one single shared free software platform.”

Creating ‘snaps’ is simplified for developers with the introduction of a new tool called ‘snapcraft’ to easily build and package applications from source and existing deb packages. ‘Snaps’ enable developers to deliver much newer versions of apps to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS over the life of the platform, solving a long-standing challenge with free platforms and enabling users to stay on a stable base for longer while enjoying newer applications.

The security mechanisms in ‘snap’ packages allow for much faster iteration across all versions of Ubuntu and Ubuntu derivatives, as ‘snap’ applications are isolated from the rest of the system. Users can install a ‘snap’ without having to worry whether it will have an impact on their other apps or their system. Similarly, developers have a much better handle on the update cycle as they can decide to bundle specific versions of a library with their app. Operationally, transactional updates make deployments of ‘snap’ packages more robust and reliable.

This release also offers LXD, a pure-container hypervisor that delivers 14 times the density and improved speed for Linux guests compared to established traditional virtualisation. LXD is part of LXC 2.0, the latest release of the Linux Containers project and the basis for almost all PaaS infrastructures in production. Canonical has led LXC development for several years, with contributions to LXC 2.0 coming from more than 80 companies.

Using LXD as a hypervisor for OpenStack enables greater density of workloads and has lower latency than any other cloud infrastructure. This offers significant benefits for companies doing time-sensitive work on cloud infrastructure, such as telco network-function virtualisation, real-time analytics of financial transactions, or media transcoding and streaming. It also provides significant improvements to the cost of infrastructure for organisations with large portfolios of idle guest workloads.

Also included in this release is support for ZFS-on-Linux, a combination of a volume manager and filesystem which enables efficient snapshots, copy-on-write cloning, continuous integrity checking against data corruption, automatic filesystem repair, and data compression. ZFS-on-Linux is a mature filesystem based on work published by Sun Microsystems under a free software license nearly a decade ago, and which is widely used in cloud and container operations on Ubuntu.

Continuing the storage theme, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS introduces support for CephFS, a distributed filesystem that provides an ideal platform for large-scale enterprise storage for cluster computing on open technology.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS creates a common platform for cloud and container computing across a range of devices, from embedded ARM devices like the RaspberryPi, to the standard 32-bit and 64-bit Intel/AMD servers, and up to the more powerful IBM Z, LinuxONE and POWER8 systems.

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