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Canonical launches Ubuntu 16.04 with more secure ‘snappy’ apps

Canonical announced yesterday that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will be available for download from today. The LTS stands for “long-term support,” indicating that Canonical will support this release for the next five years with security updates and maintenance patches.
Despite the importance of the release, Ubuntu Desktop users looking for new features may be disappointed. The substantial changes to the core of the OS are accompanied by some interface improvements though, including a completely reworked software store and an all-new calendar app.
Other tweaks include a microphone slider in the speed menu, overlay scrollbars in place of the old thumb scrubbers, the ability to “always show” app menus and faster and smoother animations. Finally, Ubuntu’s controversial online search feature is now turned off by default so search results from Amazon and Wikipedia will no longer appear automatically in the dash interface.
However, the emphasis with 16.04 is on creating a more robust and secure platform to power systems ranging from servers to tiny Internet of Things products. It is the first step in unifying the existing Ubuntu with the “Snappy” variant for the Internet of Things.
Ubuntu now supports the “snap” application package format used on Ubuntu Snappy Core. Snaps coexist with traditional Debian packages and are an alternative that developers can use when creating and distributing new apps.
Snaps offer greater security than traditional packages. They are isolated from the rest of the system and run in a sandbox, preventing a malicious or badly written app from impacting other apps or the core of the OS. Snaps are also easier for developers to create and update, simplifying the installation and maintenance of new apps on Ubuntu.
Introducing snaps to Ubuntu desktop is an “important milestone” in Canonical’s ongoing work to converge Ubuntu across desktop, mobile and the Internet of Things. Snaps can run across the all supported platforms with minimal modification, a single packaging format for every kind of device.
Ubuntu has also seen improvements to its storage and virtualisation systems. These developments are aimed at cloud computing platforms and allow companies to create more powerful servers with greater speed and density than before, up to a 14x increase using the new LXD hypervisor.
There is also support for ZFS-on-Linux, a filesystem that simplifies backup creation and data integrity checking when running at scale. ZFS-on-Linux can automatically repair itself if it detects damage to the filesystem. It is based on free software work by Sun Microsystems first published over a decade ago.
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is a major milestone for the operating system, bringing greater convergence between platforms and more powerful features when clustering servers and running data centres. Ubuntu remains the most popular Linux distribution and powers everything from tiny robots to enormous supercomputers.
“The leading cloud-based operations and the most advanced robotics run largely on Ubuntu, and this new release is the basis for the next wave of their innovation,” said Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Canonical. “We are proud to serve the needs of the enterprise, and research, and millions of personal and non-profit users, with one single shared free software platform.”
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will be made available to download later today. It will run across a very wide range of devices and architectures including standard 32-bit and 64-bit desktop PCs and servers, ARM-powered devices like the Raspberry Pi and high-end server systems such as IBM Z, LinuxONE and POWER8.

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