The up-and-coming Ubuntu has yet to attain the commercially blessed status of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise, which have been in the marketplace years longer and are certified to work with many software and hardware products. But Canonical's software has built a significant fan base with its twice-yearly updates, user-friendly values and cutesy naming scheme.
Feisty Fawn held up better than the protagonist in the animation Bambi Meets Godzilla: Canonical put up a bare-bones home page with just a single logo and a list of "mirror" sites from which the software can be downloaded. Still, the site was unavailable for more than half of the day, according to site availability monitoring company Pingdom.
"We have been absolutely swamped with hits to the Web site and the mirrors," Canonical Chief Executive Mark Shuttleworth said in a conference call. "Fortunately there are 160 mirrors out there, all rapidly updating to include Feisty Fawn. We hope the logjam won't last much longer."
Feisty Fawn features virtualization support and a new crash-reporting tool to aid debugging, but not the glitzy 3D interface Shuttleworth initially wanted.
Ubuntu got an unsolicited endorsement from Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell, a computer maker that's been wrestling with how to meet demand for desktop Linux. On Wednesday, the company announced on its Direct2Dell blog that Michael Dell got a new notebook with Feisty Fawn installed.
Shuttleworth said he didn't talk to Dell's CEO about the move and wouldn't comment on whether he was in discussions with the computer maker for some sort of partnership. But Dell's move "does suggest that the company is forward-looking and perhaps considering Ubuntu," Shuttleworth said.
Ubuntu is chiefly popular on PCs today, but Canonical is following the well-worn path to the server as it builds its Linux business. On servers, the open-source operating system is a stronger rival to Microsoft Windows and functionally very similar to versions of Unix that many administrators are familiar with. Red Hat and Novell's Linux business comes chiefly from selling support subscriptions to server customers.
Also on Thursday, Canonical announced a partnership with Sun Microsystems to bolster its server push. The company has integrated Sun's Java software with Feisty Fawn, making it available through the "multiverse" collection of preconfigured, downloadable software packages.
Sun has begun making its core Java Standard Edition software open source and will finish during the first half of 2007, said Jeet Kaul, Sun's vice president of developer products and programs. Other components already are open-source software, including the Glassfish project for Java Enterprise Edition, a collection of extensions for running Java on servers, and NetBeans, a Java programming environment.
Java SE, Glassfish and NetBeans all are available for Feisty Fawn, Shuttleworth said.
"This is the first time the Java platform technology has been fully integrated into a Linux distribution to this extent," said Ian Murdock, Sun's newly appointed chief operating systems officer and founder of the version of Linux on which Ubuntu is based.
Though NetBeans is his own "preferred Java development environment," Shuttleworth said that its main rival, Eclipse, already is integrated into Ubuntu.
The next version of Ubuntu, Gutsy Gibbon, is due in October. Neither it nor Feisty Fawn features the long-term support of version 6.06, called Dapper Drake. A version with long-term support, which lasts five years, likely won't arrive until the release of Gutsy Gibbon's successor, Shuttleworth said.