We are very pleased to present the first milestone of Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 4.2. The milestone is for our system house and technology partners, app providers and interested parties, who want to take a first look at the upcoming release of UCS.

This milestone provides a preview of the new UCS portal, which makes it easy for end users to find installed apps in the UCS domain.

In addition to the updated Debian base distribution, this milestone provides an integrated pre-release version of the upcoming Samba 4.6 version, which will be available in UCS after finalization.

New Portal of UCS 4.2 customizable

With UCS 4.2, we have decisively further developed and simplified the operating concept of UCS. Now, the central portal will allow to quickly access all applications in the environment as well as manage the different UCS instances. This will make it easier for users to access released applications. The portal will be individually configurable with the UCS 4.2 release and can thus be adapted to the needs of every organization and even the needs of each individual user.

In the field of usability and design, we have planned some improvements. For example, it will be possible to switch between gallery and list view for the display of search results.

In a series of usability tests, we have identified ways to improve the user experience and comprehensibility of the management interface which we are now implementing to make UCS administration even more intuitive.

The basic design concept from the previous UCS 4 versions is maintained and only improved on a few points.

Docker-based apps in the App Center

The focus of the UCS 4.2 App Center is the migration of the apps available in there to container apps based on the container technology Docker, which has been updated with the first milestone to version 1.12.

There are, as it is known, two different concepts of how docker containers can be used. They can be operated as a special form of virtual machines, which already contain the majority of the UCS operating system stack and can thus be used to a large extent autonomously. Alternatively, the containers can be kept very small and only contain a particular process or service. For the App Center in UCS 4.2 both approaches will be possible. For many app vendors, the approach in which a container already contains the complete operating system stack is a good starting point, because it usually does not require any customization of the app.

Update to Samba 4.6

In the first milestone of UCS 4.2, we also integrated the second release candidate of Samba 4.6. The final Samba 4.6 version is expected in early March. The new Samba 4.6 version improved in all areas. Especially as to the Active Directory functions as domain controllers and the provision of file and print services. These areas are also the focus of Samba’s fields of applications in UCS.

Change of Debian base to Jessie

An important step in the further development of UCS was also the updating of the distribution. UCS has always been based on the Linux distribution Debian. With the update to UCS 4.2, the debian base of Debian 7 (Wheezy) is updated to Debian 8 (Jessie). This has already been implemented in this milestone and means that more than 15,000 source packages have been renewed.

As a default boot system, UCS now uses systemd and no longer SysV init. However, all previous init scripts are still started so that the apps can be migrated successively.

We will also update the Linux kernel to the latest long-term support (LTS) kernel 4.9, which provides optimal hardware support and increases performance. This milestone already contains a pre-release version of the new Linux kernel 4.9.

UCS 4.2 will be the first UCS version in which we will no longer rebuild the entire Debian distribution in our own build system. This allows us to publish future security updates even faster, even for packages from the unmaintained UCS repository, which means even more security when using UCS. In addition, we increase binary compatibility.

How is it evolving?

The second milestone of UCS is scheduled for March 7, 2017, the release candidate for March 21, so we can present it at our CeBIT booth. The final release is scheduled for early April 2017.

The current ISO images for the test installation can be downloaded in our test download area: https://updates-test.software-univention.de/download/

The UCS system installed via the above link is configured in such as way that all further package updates are taken from the test repository so that you can follow the further development of UCS 4.2. The first milestone is not planned for productive use and an update of UCS 4.1 on the milestone is not available.

We are already looking forward to numerous feedback, either in our forum or by e-mail to feedback@nullunivention.de.

Stefan Gohmann has been working with Linux since 1998. He studied computer sciences at the University of Applied Sciences in Emden and wrote his diploma thesis at Utimaco Safeware AG were he continued to work as a developer after his graduation. He has been working at Univention since 2003. Since 2004, he has been Head of Software Engineering and Support at Univention.