Edge and IoT device developers have another weapon in their arsenal of operating systems following the announcement today of the latest version of Ubuntu Core. The operating system is Canonical’s latest fully containerized Linux distro for embedded systems, robots, Raspberry Pi boards and other smart applications.
By whittling the Ubuntu operating system down to its essentials, and then keeping each part in a separate package known as a ‘snap’, Core 22 allows both the kernel and applications to be completely sandboxed, able to update automatically, access only a secure app store, and automatically scan for vulnerabilities.
Based on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, the system guarantees mission-critical updates of the kernel, OS and applications - updates will always complete successfully, or roll back automatically to the previous working version, so a device cannot be ‘bricked’ by an incomplete update. Snaps also provide delta updates to minimize network traffic, and digital signatures to ensure software integrity and provenance.
Out of the box, Ubuntu Core provides secure boot, disk encryption and secure recovery, as well as the additional security provided by the containerized nature of its apps. Don’t go expecting a desktop experience like Gnome in ‘normal’ Ubuntu, however - this version runs apps deployed to it from another desktop through a secure web interface. There's a certified hardware program to ensure that whatever combination of hardware and software you want to put together, you can quickly discover whether they’ve been tested to work.
“Our goal at Canonical is to provide secure, reliable open source everywhere - from the development environment to the cloud, down to the edge and to devices,” said Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical. “With this release, and Ubuntu’s real-time kernel, we are ready to expand the benefits of Ubuntu Core across the entire embedded world.”
Some devices, such as the Raspberry Pi 4 or Intel NUC, can run both Ubuntu Desktop or Core, depending on the computing role they’re expected to take on. Ubuntu Core images can be downloaded from the OS website, ready for deployment.
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Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.