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Always colorful with its names, Canonical has birthed the server, desktop and education versions of its "Feisty Fawn" Ubuntu Linux.

In its blasé form, the new version of Linux ships on April 19 as Ubuntu 7.04 Server Edition, Desktop Edition and Edubuntu.

The OS falls under Canonical's short-term, 18-month maintenance program, as opposed to the "Dapper Drake" 6.06 release, which enjoys five year support.

Server customers will see a Feisty Fawn that has improved virtualization support. Canonical has placed near-term emphasis on the open source Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) and VMware, making it possible to run both sets of software in conjunction with the latest virtualization-friendly chips from Intel (VT) and AMD.

Xen support is there as well, but Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth said, in an interview, that he's a bit more moved by the interest the KVM and VMware crowds have shown toward working with Ubuntu developers.

The Server release also boasts a fresh management package that automates upgrades to new Ubuntu releases, improved thin client support, upgraded multi-core processor performance and a turned on, tuned in LAMP stack - with versions 2.2.3 of Apache, 5.0.38 of MySQL, 2.5 of Python and 5.2.1 of PHP.

Ubuntu has also extended its hand to Sun's UltraSPARC T1 chip again.

"We fell a bit behind with Sun's latest hardware releases, so this brings us up to speed," Shuttleworth said.

On the desktop side, users will find a new Windows migration tool. The software tool hunts down all the Windows essentials such as IE bookmarks, Firefox favorites, your desktop wallpaper and IM contacts from AIM and YIM and funnels them over to Ubuntu.

There's also new multimedia codec support that gives users the option of selecting what types of media software and files they can legally play in their respective countries.

In addition, you'll discover the handy Avahi tool, which pops Ubuntu machines onto wireless networks and helps with sharing things such as music and printers.

The Edubuntu version offers many similar tools, placing a particular emphasis on using the OS in conjunction with thin clients.

Ubuntu continues to prove popular with a wide variety of customers due in large part to Canonical's strong desktop support and commitment to getting as many of the latest and greatest open source tools into all versions of its Linux.

Shuttleworth, for example, noted that he recently learned of Lufthansa pilots' Ubuntu love. The pilots were plagued by Windows security concerns and a number of them have popped Ubuntu on their laptops to keep them safer while traveling.

You can find more on Ubuntu here. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

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