Canonical brings some bling to the Internet of Things with Snap-happy Ubuntu Core 18 release

Ubuntu here, there, everywhere

Canonical unleashed Ubuntu Core 18 on the public today following a beta of the locked-down Linux in December.

Ubuntu Core is Canonical's pitch at the IoT and embedded market and brings the company's Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, released back in April 2018, to devices that prefer stability to life on the bleeding edge.

Enthusiasts may wince, however, as many packages have been removed from the core operating system in order to minimise the attack surface. The less-is-more principle also applies to updates – Canonical reckons that by stripping away the chaff, the size and frequency of patches should be reduced as well.

Handy, because updating IoT devices to deal with the latest flaw running riot in the wild can be a nightmarish proposition.

Microsoft, arguably the king of the surprise update, has its own pitch at the IoT space with a version of Windows 10 targeted at the market as well as the long-in-gestation Azure Sphere. Azure Sphere runs Microsoft's own take on Linux with an Azure back-end to ensure devices remain as fresh as daisies. At least as far as updates are concerned.

Canonical plans 10 years of maintenance for Ubuntu Core 18 (at a cost, of course) which is pretty much essential for the long-term deployment of hardware running the thing. It has also buddied up with the likes of Dell and Qualcomm to come up with hardware pre-certified for the software.

Much like Microsoft's aim with Windows 10 IoT, coding up apps for Core 18 should be a breeze for developers familiar with the Snap-happy world of Server, Desktop and Cloud images of Ubuntu.

While locking away application deployment in the Snap architecture may prove vexing for some, Canonical reckon the immutable, digitally signed Snaps makes for a stable OS and Snaps themselves are kept isolated anyway, limiting the damage badly behaved code can do.

And, at the end of the day, the whole of the Ubuntu Core 18 platform is made of strictly confined Snaps itself. ®

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