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Ubuntu update is 'Edgy' on boot speed

New "Edgy Eft" version of Ubuntu Linux, scheduled for a Thursday release, includes a faster boot-up process.

Canonical released on Thursday the new "Edgy Eft" version of its Ubuntu Linux, which includes a faster boot-up process.

The boot process, called Upstart, is among several dozen new features in the Linux version. Canonical releases Ubuntu updates every six months; the previous 6.06 "Dapper Drake" arrived in June, a few weeks late.

Canonical, based in South Africa, hopes to turn a profit by 2008 by selling support for Ubuntu.

Upstart replaces the decades-old "init" software originally created for System V Unix and provides "substantially faster" start-up times, Canonical said. Essentially, Upstart provides a new mechanism for launching all the services that constitute a running Linux system. With Upstart, and unlike init, specific system events can control which services run, and the initiation of a service can trigger other events.

"You want to say, 'Right, once the network is up, then bring up Apache.' Or, 'If you've got this (service), you've got access to this hardware, so fire up that kind of infrastructure,'" Chief Executive Mark Shuttleworth said.

Edgy Eft arrived two days after one of its main competitors, Red Hat's Fedora Core 6, which also is free and which was .

"It's quite impressive how mature (Ubuntu has) gotten in the short amount of time it's been around," said The 451 Group analyst Nick Selby.

Unlike Fedora, Ubuntu is both free and supported by Canonical. Fedora is free, but Red Hat steers customers who need support to its Red Hat Enterprise Linux version, which isn't free.

However, not all Ubuntu releases are created equal. The Dapper Drake version was the first to come with long-term support, which lasts five years, but Edgy Eft's support lasts only 18 months. Canonical plans to endow every second or third version with long-term support, Shuttleworth said.

Edgy Eft also comes with the newest version 2.16 of the Gnome graphical user interface; fans of the KDE alternative can use a variant called Kubuntu.

The new Linux product also includes Firefox 2.0, released Wednesday, and two applications that use Novell's Mono software foundation: Tomboy, for taking notes, and F-Spot, for sorting, tagging and uploading photos. It also includes version 2.8 of the Evolution e-mail software.

Among Canonical customers using Ubuntu are Toshiba, Siemens, PalmSource and Thrifty Rentacar, the company said. And two institutions are using Ubuntu for high-performance computing clusters: the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Harvard Medical School.