New Version of Ubuntu Software Coming

A new version of the Ubuntu software package, a flavor of the freely distributed Linux operating system, is due out Thursday.

Ubuntu 6.06, which will be released on CD and as a free download, includes a video interview with former South African President Nelson Mandela, who explains what "ubuntu" means. (It's an African expression that roughly translates as "humanness.")

Ubuntu, launched two years ago, has a reputation for being easy to use. Although Linux is used mostly for servers, Ubuntu is traditionally a desktop product. Canonical Ltd., the British company that puts out Ubuntu, said it has shipped millions of free CDs so far.

Canonical has 50,000 pre-orders for CDs of the latest version, nicknamed "Dapper Drake," according to spokesman Bill Baker.

Dapper Drake is the first Ubuntu release with a server version. It's also the first release for which Canonical will sell long-term support: up to five years for the server version, and three years for the desktop version.

Among other changes, Dapper Drake has a new graphical installer program.

Ubuntu 6.06 will be available for PCs with Intel and AMD processors, Macintosh computers with PowerPC chips and Sun servers with Sparc processors.

Canonical is run and funded by Mark Shuttleworth, a South African Internet millionaire who paid $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station on a Russian rocket in 2002.