Fear not, this is not a rehash of our press release from the other day. I was browsing what people wrote about Ubuntu and EC2 and I'm amazed at some of the confusion. The most bizarre so far is an article about "Ubuntu's next wave: Open server, closed cloud," talking about how Canonical is steering users to Amazon's "closed cloud" in order to monetize Ubuntu and thus how they're betraying free software. Very weird conspiracy theory!
Back to topic, the reason we've decided to support Ubuntu is because we couldn't afford not to :-) At the very beginning we decided to support a single OS because we couldn't afford to support a second one simply due to the development and testing overhead, and at that time CentOS was the right choice. All along we've had users using Ubuntu with RightScale and we did our best to support them without spending a lot of official time on it. But six to nine months ago it became clear that demand for Ubuntu server was on the rise and that we'd better pay attention.
What finally pushed us over the edge is that the Ubuntu team and Canonical made it clear that they are supporting the cloud. They see the opportunity to be the OS of choice in the cloud and they are going at it. In addition they are supporting the Eucalyptus project and we have been supporting it as well, so that's another common point. All that made it clear that it's in everyone's benefit for us to roll up our sleeves and unleash Ubuntu on RightScale.
It's weird how the article quoted above sees Canonical's support of EC2 as betraying open source. I, of course, hope that Canonical will indeed monetize its cloud efforts by offering paid support services in the cloud environment. I want the company to stay around to continue supporting the Ubuntu project! But I see a cloud support offering as being no different than offering paid support services in the data center environment, which it does today. Does anyone complain that Canonical offers support on Dell servers because the servers are not free? What's different in the cloud? We pay Amazon to "lease" the servers and run them to boot. How different is that with respect to Ubuntu or Canonical?
Anyway, I'm looking forward to many Ubuntu users on the RightScale service, whether free or paid, and we'll keep increasing our Ubuntu offering!
NB: One of the things we're doing somewhat behind the scenes is running redundant mirrors of the Ubuntu repos within EC2, so if you're launching hundreds of servers and doing apt-gets then those will all go at lightning speed and succeed. In addition, we're keeping daily versions of the mirrors, so next year you'll still be able to apt-get with the state of the mirrors of today to guarantee a successful launch and install.