So the latest codename for next year’s first planned Ubuntu release has been revealed as being Natty Narwhal, not perhaps the most awe-inspiring of codenames but one I guess which will work.

Still, I kind of like the fact that the next one coming up is nicknamed “Maverick Meerkat” – just the word Meerkat makes me feel all proudly South African for some strange reason.

Anyway, the point of this quickfire post is to explain the version numbering which Canonical employs for its Ubuntu releases.

As we all know by now, Ubuntu is released on a time-based six-month release cycle. So that’s two versions a year, which typically arrive in April and October respectively.

The codename for each new release is based on an advancing alphabetically ordered sequence, and consists of an animal name preceded by an adjective that starts with the same letter. This then explains why we’ve had things like Intrepid Ibis, Jaunty Jackalope, Karmic Koala and Lucid Lynx, and getting things like Maverick Meerkat and Natty Narwhal. An entertaining system for sure, but one which will have to be adjusted once they hit Z I’m sure! :)

The actual version number is based on the year and approximate month of the planned release date. Hence Ubuntu 10.04 refers to the April 2010 release.

And that’s pretty much that. Sure, sometimes they go and throw on little extra like LTS after the version number, but all that this means is that the OS release qualifies for Long Term Support, which basic means Canonical will support it for at least three years.

Simple, and if you didn’t before, now you know! ;)