LINUX DISTRIBUTION Ubuntu has already christened its 11.10 release Oneiric Ocelot even though its predecessor, Natty Narwhal has yet to hit the mirror sites.
Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical, also gave some hints about the difficult decisions the Ubuntu Project will have to make prior to the October 2011 launch of Oneiric Ocelot. That release will be the last before the long term support (LTS) release of Ubuntu 12.04, which is expected in April 2012.
Canonical expects to release Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal towards the end of April, which will be the first release to use the Unity user interface instead of Gnome. A number of changes to the default applications will also be introduced in Ubuntu 11.04, including ditching Oracle's Openoffice in favour of the forked community supported version, Libreoffice.
Shuttleworth has said that Oneiric Ocelot will have a 2D user interface to compliment the OpenGL Unity interface. There will also be support for Qt, the user interface framework that Nokia recently dumped. He also said that the Ubuntu Project will narrow down the number of cloud services it supports out of the box, saying the team will need "tighten up and make some firm decisions about the platforms we can support for 12.04 LTS".
Those cloud service providers who want to be on Canonical's approved list might have to make a good case for themselves at the Ubuntu Developer Summit. The weeklong conference held in May will be the forum where Shuttleworth says many of these decisions will be made following "feisty debate".
Given that Canonical takes a conservative approach to its LTS releases, the major changes already pencilled in for next month's launch of Natty Narwhal are likely to be superceded by fine-tuning with Oneiric Ocelot, teeing up Ubuntu 12.04 in April 2012.
For Canonical, the more pressing matter will be whether its wholesale changes to the Ubuntu user interface in Natty Narwhal will be well received when it hits the mirrors next month. µ