PC, Server Makers Prepare for Canonical's Ubuntu 9.04 Launch

As Canonical prepares for Ubuntu 9.04's April 23 debut, hardware partners are gearing up to support the new Linux distribution. And, there's even talk about a major hardware maker -- a biggie, folks -- showing a little more love for the new Ubuntu. Here are some clues about what's coming.

First, the pure facts: Small Ubuntu proponents -- such as PC maker System76 -- plan to begin offering Ubuntu 9.04 on systems starting April 23, with shipments beginning the following week. But this is more than a PC push. System76 will preload the new Ubuntu on servers, desktops, notebooks and even a forthcoming netbook, according to System 76 President Carl Richell. Oh, and by the way: System76's revenues are growing fast thanks to its focus on Ubuntu.

Meanwhile, Dell continues to test Ubuntu 9.04 on selected desktops, notebooks and netbooks -- though it will be a few months before Dell moves its Ubuntu product lineup to the latest operating system release. In the meantime, roughly 30 percent of the company's netbooks are sold with Ubuntu 8.04 pre-installed, according to one Dell insider.

Reliable Server Buzz?

Now, some informed speculation from The VAR Guy.

Sources say Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun all are testing Ubuntu Server Edition 9.04, and Canonical will certify the new operating system to run on dozens of server configurations from the hardware providers.

To be super clear: The VAR Guy does not expect any major server makers to announce pre-load agreements for Ubuntu 9.04 when the operating system debuts April 23. However a Potential surprise is in store -- involving closer work between a major server maker and Canonical. Again, not pre-load work. But a closer server relationship nonetheless. The VAR Guy hopes preliminary details will emerge the week of April 20.

In the meantime, Canonical insiders expect Eucalyptus (short for Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems) cloud technology to create new opportunities for channel partners. Again, details next week.

Admittedly, Canonical's partner channel for Ubuntu remains a work in progress. But that needs to change. Red Hat and nearly a dozen partners on April 14 launched the Open Channel Partner Alliance, and Novell has been rebuilding its partner and distribution network.

Canonical's hardware partners are gearing up for Ubuntu 9.04. Now, Canonical needs to gear up its channel.

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