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Second-tier Linux makers release new products

Ubuntu debuts Breezy Badger, while Mandriva offers three versions with support for wireless networking, other features.

Mandriva and Ubuntu, two significant but second-tier versions of Linux, each released major updates Thursday.

Ubuntu, which has risen to prominence only recently, released its third version, numbered 5.10 and also called Breezy Badger. Also arriving is Mandriva 2006, which comes in three versions: Discovery/Lx for beginners, PowerPack for more advanced personal computer users and PowerPack+ for servers. The products cost about $54, $96 and $239, respectively.

Ubuntu is available for free, but a start-up called Canonical that sponsors the project sells support.

Mandriva said its new versions are notable for their inclusion of support for wireless networking and other features in Intel's Centrino technology and Skype VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) software. In addition, the versions include software acquired when Mandriva bought the assets of Lycoris in June.

Mandriva was formed after MandrakeSoft acquired Conectiva, another Linux seller, in February. Mandriva Club members can download the new software; others can order it online.

One new Breezy Badger feature is the Linux Terminal Server Project, which lets organizations set up a computer that provides shared network access and computing services for a group of older PCs.

Also included is the new version 2.0 of the 2.0 software suite; the latest GNOME 2.12 user interface and, in the case of an Ubuntu offshoot called Kubuntu, KDE 3.4.3; support for the Launchpad service to help with translation and bug-fixing; unified driver software Hewlett-Packard all-in-one printers; and support for Oracle's Cluster File System version 2 and Red Hat's Global File System for multiple-server installations.

Ubuntu issues new releases every six months. The next, 6.4, is called Dapper Drake.