Ubuntu LTS Release Tuned for AI and ML Workloads

The recent long-term-support release of Canonical's Ubuntu (Ubuntu 18.04, code-named "Bionic Beaver"), announced last week, adds features and upgrades designed to make the company's Linux distro a more appealing platform for artificial intelligence (AI) development. Much more.

Among those upgrades: Kubeflow, the Google approach to TensorFlow on Kubernetes, and a range of CI/CD tools were integrated in Canonical's distribution of Kubernetes and aligned with the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) for on-premises and on-cloud AI development.

Kubeflow is the open source project focused on making deployments of machine learning (ML) workflows on Kubernetes "simple, portable, and scalable," the project page states.

Support for AI and ML was a focus in this release, said Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth during a global conference call, both directly and indirectly.

"Multicloud operations are the new normal," Shuttleworth said. "Boot time and performance-optimized images of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on every major public cloud make it the fastest and most-efficient OS for cloud computing, especially for storage and compute-intensive tasks like machine learning."

The Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) supports GPU acceleration of workloads using the NVIDIA device plugin for Kubernetes. Complex workloads like Kubeflow that leverage NVIDIA GPUs "just work" on CDK, the company said, "reflecting joint efforts with Google to accelerate machine learning in the enterprise and providing a portable way to develop and deploy ML applications at scale." Applications built and tested with Kubeflow and CDK are transportable to Google Cloud.

Developers working on Ubuntu can create applications on their workstations, test them on private bare-metal Kubernetes with CDK, and run them across data sets on Google's GKE. "The resulting models and inference engines can be delivered to Ubuntu devices at the edge of the network," the company said, "creating a perfect pipeline for machine learning from workstation, to rack, to cloud and device."

"Having an OS that is tuned for advanced workloads such as AI and ML is critical to a high velocity team" said David Aronchick, Product Manager in Google's Cloud AI group. "With the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Canonical's collaborations to the Kubeflow project, Canonical has provided both a familiar and highly performant operating system that works everywhere. Whether on-premise or in the cloud, software engineers and data scientists can use tools they are already familiar with, such as Ubuntu, Kubernetes and Kubeflow, and greatly accelerate their ability to deliver value for their customers."

About the Author

John has been covering the high-tech beat from Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly two decades. He serves as Editor-at-Large for Application Development Trends ( and contributes regularly to Redmond Magazine, The Technology Horizons in Education Journal, and Campus Technology. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Everything Guide to Social Media; The Everything Computer Book; Blobitecture: Waveform Architecture and Digital Design; John Chambers and the Cisco Way; and Diablo: The Official Strategy Guide.



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