Ubuntu 14.04, the newest edition of Canonical's open source Linux-based OS, will not make huge waves among PC and mobile users, for whom it brings only minor software updates. For server users, however, the latest and greatest Ubuntu release delivers more, particularly in the realms of automation, cloud computing and virtualization.

For desktop and mobile users, the most significant change in the upcoming release of Ubuntu 14.04, which will debut officially April 17, involves updates to the AppArmor security system. And if the biggest-ticket item on the desktop/mobile feature list is for a kernel-hardening package that runs in the background, people who use Ubuntu on their personal computers, phones and tablets aren't likely to see much change at all in Ubuntu 14.04.

In the server world, however, the latest Ubuntu brings more substantial change. In particular, it bumps Puppet, an open source platform for automating IT infrastructure management, to version 3. That's a major update, which could come in handy for people deploying large environments of Ubuntu servers (after they sort out the incompatibilities between earlier Puppet iterations and the new version, which are not completely mutually compatibile).

Ubuntu 14.04 also will feature version 4.4 of the open source Xen virtualization hypervisor. That change, too, necessitates some tweaking to bring previous Xen deployments up to speed with the new package, but it also provides additional features and helps maintain the diversity of the virtualization ecosystem on Ubuntu servers, which offer a range of hypervisors, including VMware (VMW) and KVM in addition to Xen and others.

On top of all of this, Ubuntu 14.04's kernel is based on Linux 3.13, which itself brings feature updates inlcuding better solid-state (SSD) disk performance. That update, too, will be welcome among server users, especially those in need of high performance in the cloud and Big Data realms.

Since Ubuntu 14.04 is a long-term support (LTS) release, it's one that server users, in particular, are likely to stick with for long periods within production environments, where the shorter support life spans of non-LTS releases make little sense. The updates to the automation, virtualization and storage software available on Ubuntu are therefore coming at the right moment to help keep Ubuntu competitive in the server market, even as Canonical increasingly focuses on PCs and mobile devices within the scope of its Ubuntu "convergence" efforts.