Ubuntu – THE Linux Distribution

06Aug08

IBM has finally recognised Ubuntu as a first class Linux ditribution.  And it’s about time, as many customers have long used Ubuntu on their IBM machines as the default OS.  Why? What’s the secret sauce of Ubuntu?

First Ubuntu is unashamed and proud of Linux, server side and most importantly desktop-wise.  Ubuntu has a clear agenda and policy, is backed up by Canonical but independent of “political” machinations. No one fears that a takeover of Canonical would change what Ubuntu stands for.  

And that is in sharp contrast to Novell/Suse.  …

Suse has had a proud customer/community base, however the commercial versions have always been the primary target and therefore they followed the old software licensing model. The desktop with KDE preference looked like a techy version of Windows and was never a focus.  And then Novell changed it’s politics and made a deal with MS in 2006.  Rather than anticipating next generation economics, the management declared it’s preference for the old world, ie short term monetisation through licensing. (Ever tried to license SLES at a decent price?) 

Even Red Hat seemed to be rooted in this old world believe system that business means licensing: yes it’s open source but you need to buy it to get a good deal.

And then came Ubuntu in 2004.  Both Red Hat and Novell came out with their own “free” distributions, Fedora in 2003 (more like a stepchild and a by-product) and OpenSUSE in 2005 (as an answer to Fedora and Ubuntu).  But somehow, both projects feel like an afterthought.  Ubuntu however is genuinely a community project.  Canonicals business is derived from that, not the other way.

This transparency leads to trust and confidence. The desktop approach is fresh and different, not a copycat.  People are proud of using Ubuntu, not defensive.  And they particpate by contributing expertise and experience through forums and blogs. 

The first prominent hardware company to endorse Ubuntu has been Dell.  Now IBM has acknowledged that a lot of admins around the world have been using Ubuntu on their servers for quite some time. Check our stories about installing Lotus Domino on IBM servers running Ubuntu (it seems, that since then, installations have become even easier). And we are not alone: here is another one of many others. 

When people say that one argument pro-Windows is the ease of installation they a) have never really installed a fresh version of Windows and b) have never installed an Ubuntu Linux either.  Just the time it takes to update Windows with all those fixes…  patch-up boys 🙂

BTW, after 4 years of proud Apple Powerbook ownership, the author is contemplating buying a non-Mac notebook, not with Vista, please, oh no, with Ubuntu. One of those rare non-glossy 15” screens with WSXGA 1680×1050 recently caught my eyes. Resolution-wise that is better than the MacBook Pro for roughly a third of the price of the Apple 15” laptop. The HP qompaq 6715b can be ordered with FreeDOS instead of Vista – trouble is where?  Most retailers have it only with Windows.  The only issue for Ubuntu on the 6715b seems to be the Wifi support, a classic problem due mostly to proprietary drivers and stupid manufacturers.  More on 6715b with Ubuntu.

The alternative looks like the Dell Inspiron 1525 with a similar but glossy WSXGA screen (though I have only found the 1680×1050 option on the German Dell pages, and only for the Linux version, not the “normal” Windoze 1525, go figure).  The Dell is roughly 300EUR more expensive with the specs I’d like.  That is half the amount of the 6715b, which you can get for the street price of around 600EUR.  The Dell has a slightly better performance due to the Intel Duo Core, but as mentioned before, the screen is glossy, ie less practical.  Advantage of the 1525 is that Ubuntu is pre-installed, no hassles there.

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3 Responses to “Ubuntu – THE Linux Distribution”

  1. Until Ubuntu can see the importance of successful upgrades-in-place, the importance of KDE and other desktop environments, the importance of sharing code fixes and changes upstream, and the importance of trying to close bugs within the same year and release as the bug is reported, I cannot ever consider it THE Linux distro. Even then, I doubt I would — Free Software is too fun to limit myself to one distro.

    Any software provider who wants a Linux app to get anywhere needs to either open source/Free it, or package it for a number of distros (at least until distros become more LSB-compliant).

  2. @lefty-crupps: yes, Ubuntu is not perfect, and yes, people need choice. That is true regarding the desktop environment and for the distro as well. Innovation comes through diversity. And diversity is fun as you rightly suggest.

    I have been a KDE fan for a long time, though since Ubuntu and my Mac experience, Ubuntu’s Gnome has grown on me. I also want to try the Xfce Xubuntu http://www.ubuntu.com/products/whatisubuntu/xubuntu for an old computer of mine.


  1. 1 Boycott Novell » Links 07/08/2008: Two More GNU/Linux Netbook Products, LinuxWorld Ends

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