zareason_ubuntu-karmic-koalaAs Canonical delivers the first Ubuntu 9.10 release candidate to users, niche PC makers like System76 and ZaReason are preparing to offer Ubuntu 9.10 on their systems. We've already heard from System76. Now, let's take a look at ZaReason's system plans for the new Ubuntu -- including thoughts about a new ZaReason server and an expanding customer base.

I traded email with ZaReason CEO Cathy Malmrose and CTO Earl Malmrose. Here are their perspectives on the new Ubuntu, and ZaReason's next moves.

Catching Up with Earl Malmrose

First up: My October 20 email exchange with Earl. According to Earl, ZaReason already offers Ubuntu 9.10 on a pre-order basis and will begin shipping systems with Ubuntu 9.10 the day the operating system is release (Oct. 29). Earl says the upgrade is all about speed and performance -- including a new version of Firefox that's much faster. "For netbooks, that's a big deal," says Earl -- who hints that ZaReason will be announcing new Ubuntu servers soon, too.

Catching Up with Cathy Malmrose

On October 22, Cathy replied to my email inquires with even more details about ZaReason's plans. Our quick Q&A:

WorksWithU: What is the first improvement you have noticed with Ubuntu 9.10?

Cathy Malmrose: For laptop users in particular, we want better, faster, stronger and 9.10 delivers on all three. The first improvement you notice is the speedy start-up time thanks to Upstart. The Terra now clocks in at only 27 seconds to boot up from a full shut down compared to 37 seconds in 9.04. Shutdown is also speedy, as quick as only 5 seconds, compared to 12 seconds before. These are tangible improvements that are readily noticed even by a casual user.

WorksWithU: Are most of the improvements aimed at new users or long-time heavy users?

Cathy Malmrose: There are improvements on both fronts. For a more advanced user who works on more than one computer during the day, Ubuntu One provides a delightfully easy way to sync your laptop with your netbook with your desktop with... your second desktop? Being able to sync up all your systems allows you to be more mobile.

When you look closely at 9.10, you can see how well 9.10 is shifting to being more new-person friendly. For example, the shift from "Add/Remove" to "Ubuntu Software Center" shows that Ubuntu designers are thinking more about new users. The start-up experience is getting better with every release, 9.10 in particular, with less screen flashing during start-up.

WorksWithU: Are you finding more customers are new to Linux? Is ZaReason's base expanding?


Cathy Malmrose: Yes, we are getting more and more customers who have never used Linux before. They write in asking, "I'm thinking of trying Linux because my friend said it's a better system. Can you tell me which laptop would be easiest for me to use since I'm new to this?" Then a few weeks later they write again, "Wow, it sure was easy to get used to this new system. Thanks!"

WorksWithU: Then, Cathy threw in some new details about ZaReason's expanding customer base and server plans...

Cathy Malmrose: Our base is also expanding at the high-end, due to many customer requests. We are targeting a new server to coincide with the 9.10 launch. A dual Xeon (16 threads) with up to 96 GB DDR3 RAM. This new system will really shine with all the virtual machine improvements included in 9.10. Imagine a single machine hosting dozens of virtual machines.

Remember Where You Came From

No doubt, Canonical hopes to partner with more and more PC and server makers. But I hope the company remembers how ZaReason and System76 supported Ubuntu -- especially on servers -- long before most major hardware makers had the confidence to make similar moves.

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