I quickly figured out the Unity interface and installed Chrome as my browser, installed VLC Media Player, logged into my Hulu account and watched some of my shows, (which I mostly listen to) while simultaneously monitoring Facebook, Gmail, and reading various news sites. It worked well, had a little bit of lag, but nothing overwhelming, and I knew I was asking it to do a lot. The Ubuntu Software Center (now on version 5) was my favorite part. It was as easy as the marketplace on my Droid to just find the software I wanted to install and get it done.
I’ve been thinking of getting an Android tablet computer, but working on the Dell Vostro with Ubuntu 11.10 made me reconsider the purchase. That is, until I figured out I couldn’t buy a Dell Vostro with Ubuntu. Nope, the only way to buy a Dell Vostro is with Windows 7 preloaded… and if I do that, would I really take the time to install Ubuntu instead (or as a dual-boot)? No. Why? Because that’s too much effort. I’m an editor, and I’m not a super-geek. I’m much more like your sister who is savvy enough to deal with glitches on her machine, but who still takes her crashed hard drive in to a professional. And I’m not about to mess with a fully functioning brand new laptop just to install Ubuntu. But I’d buy it (if I could).
But wait! You can buy it. Kind of. What you can buy is a System 76 laptop. Problem is, it’s not a Dell Vostro. And that wouldn’t be a problem except that the price point is a bit different. Here’s the deal – open source isn’t free, as in beer, but it shouldn’t be sold at a microbrew price either. The System 76 laptops with Ubuntu preinstalled that match the screen size of the Dell Vostro with Windows 7 installed are listed at $699. The Vostro with Windows 7 installed starts at $399, and the more beefed-up version is still only $549.
While the tech specs show some notable differences, there isn’t a huge chasm. This is not going to bring on the era of the Linux desktop – except maybe in India and China where you actually can buy a Vostro with Ubuntu installed. Sigh.]]>
Resellers joining the Ubuntu Advantage partner program can tap into additional revenue streams by expanding their services portfolio. In addition to the commission of UA, resellers can also add additional services such as hardware, software, implementation and training services. Partners also receive marketing, technical, commercial and pre-sales support and an assigned account manager as part of the UA program.
The program is launching with global partners, including CSS in the US, Asia and EMEA, Ashisuto in Japan, RedPill Linpro in Scandinavia and Alterway in France.
“Partnering with Canonical for our Ubuntu offerings on the desktop, server and cloud is already giving CSS a significant advantage of being able to provide top-tier solutions and support to our customers,” said Steve Lack, Director of Global Alliances at CSS.
Check out more Linux news and tips on SearchEnterpriseLinux.com
Update: This week Canonical also launched Ubuntu Advantage Cloud Guest, a set of technical support services, management tools and legal cover for businesses running Ubuntu in public cloud environments. Customers who subscribe to the service will get round-the-clock technical support and expertise.]]>
However, Canonical’s decision to move away from Eucalyptus in favor of OpenStack could be risky. OpenStack is less than a year old and still very much in its infancy. Given all the publicity OpenStack has received, it might be fair to wonder whether Canonical was more concerned about being left behind than it was about the technology’s current efficacy.
“A lot of folks figured it was a no brainer just because of the buzz. To be honest, that was not the only reason why we switched. If you switch to something just because it gets buzz, you’d be changing all the time,” said Robbie Williamson, the engineering manager for the Ubuntu server team at Canonical.
Instead, Williamson said, Canonical sees clear technical advantages to OpenStack, specifically when focusing on ARM-based servers.
“We want to be sure Ubuntu can be in the forefront among server operating systems for ARM. We feel like we have an advantage there versus any of the established markets,” he said. “ARM’s Java support isn’t that solid yet, and Eucalyptus is written in Java. So that would have presented a problem for us. We’re also very focused on cloud deployment. For ARM, the virtualization technologies aren’t as mature there. With OpenStack, and the open development model, anyone can participate and contribute as they want, and really drive that functionality in their own self-interest. That is something we will contribute to and drive for our own self-interest. With Eucalyptus, there are some hurdles if we wanted to do that.”
Canonical has done this before, in the case of its support for KVM over Xen. In that case, the company took a risk in deciding to support what it believed was a superior virtualization hypervisor. That decision turned out OK, and there’s no reason to believe – as of yet – that its choice of OpenStack will hurt business.
Even so, Williamson admitted that he, and other Canonical executives, are nervous about whether OpenStack will be enterprise-ready in time for an expected September beta release of Ubuntu 11.10. Like any good gambler, Canonical is hedging its bet, planning to keep support for Eucalyptus through April 2015, and not ruling out a delay in its plan to make OpenStack the default.
“You never know. Come August, maybe we do need to switch it around. Both products are anticipated around the August, September timeline – there is some wiggle room there. … Talking to some of the other engineers, even Mark [Shuttleworth] himself, they were just as nervous, even more so, about this [decision],” Williamson said, comparing the OpenStack decision to the company’s choice of KVM.
Have you tried OpenStack and Eucalyptus? What are your impressions of the two technologies? Do you think this risk will pay off for Ubuntu?
What there seems to be little disagreement about is that Unity may take some getting used to. One of the biggest changes for 11.04 is that Unity, and not the GNOME shell, will be the default desktop interface. Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth explained this change last October when he said the GNOME shell was heading in the wrong direction. Unity was originally released with Ubuntu 10.10 as an alternative interface for netbooks leaving some to wonder how it will perform on a desktop system.
Ivan Wright has been an Ubuntu user for the last 18 months, and didn’t waste any time installing the 11.04 beta on his system – and then posting his experiences in a series of YouTube reviews.
“Initially I didn’t like the new Unity interface in 11.04, particularly in the early stages of development it was very buggy and slow,” Wright said. “I thought the space saving features, which were great for netbook computers, would be wasted and cause inconvenience on a desktop computer. Although once I actually started using the system I found it was absolutely fine and easy enough to use.”
As can be expected with any betas, Natty Narwhal does have some glitches, and Wright runs into many of those hiccups in his videos. Even so, Wright also says his past experience with Ubuntu betas makes him confident the issues will be resolved before the full release.
Another 11.04 tester, Antoon Freche, has also come across his share of glitches. Many of 11.04′s troubles are already well known (nVidia support problems), but others continue to frustrate Freche and other users.
“I’ve had quite a few programs crashing. Those popped up with the opportunity to provide feedback, but I’ve had these feedback forms crash on me too … It’s kind of annoying. The system that should be there to gather problem information just fails to get relevant data,” Freche said.
Freche also has mixed feelings on Unity.
“Unity itself doesn’t always do what I expect. This might be related to wrong expectations or me just not understanding the ideas behind this new desktop interface,” he said.
Wright and Freche’s feelings on having to “get used to Unity” may come to typify the experience of 11.04 converts, and we may not really know how Natty Narwhal will perform until the final release, but it appears the developers have some work to do before launch (which is scheduled for later this month).]]>
With the elimination of the netbook edition, Ubuntu is further simplifying the name, removing the word “desktop edition” from the PC version, and instead just calling that product “Ubuntu 11.04.” The server edition will be simply called “Ubuntu Server 11.04.”
Canonical recently announced that Ubuntu 11.10, is called Onieric Ocelot. Shuttleworth also hinted that Canonical will be looking to limit the cloud platforms that the next long-term support release (Ubuntu 12.04 LTS) will support.]]>
“A virtual cloud appliance consisting of Ubuntu and DB2 Express-C will enable customers to quickly and easily set up DB2 in both public and private cloud situations,” said Neil Levine, VP of Commercial Services at Canonical.
DB2 has been validated on previous Ubuntu releases and DB2 Express-C has been available since Feisty Fawn (7.04), and Canonical began reselling DB2 Express-C in 2008. But the virtual cloud appliance is new, and is just one more example of Canonical’s cloud reach.
“Customers are quickly adopting DB2 software on Linux for both on-premise and cloud computing deployments,” said Robert S. Sutor, Vice President, Open Source and Linux, IBM Software Group. “The combination of Ubuntu and DB2 provides users with a highly integrated and tested virtual cloud appliance.”]]>
In December, Canonical announced that Shuttleworth was stepping down from his role as CEO and COO Jane Silber was moving up, but no hint was given as to who would be filling her shoes. Today, the company sent out a press release announcing that the role would be filled by long-time open source business strategist, Matt Asay.
Some of us feel quite a familiarity with Asay; we’ve been following his CNET blog, The Open Road (and linked to it prolifically when breaking open source news hits). He also is a regular speaker at open source events — I recently saw him at the inaugural LinuxCon in late September 2009.
Asay leaves his position as VP of Business Development for Alfresco, a Maidenhead, United Kingdom-based open source content management software company. Prior to that, Asay was one of the founding members of Novell’s Linux Business Office in 2002 and was an early influencer and participant in the company’s shift to open source. In 2003, he founded the Open Source Business Conference, and he has served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Thomas Weisel Venture Partners, focusing on open source investment opportunities.
Before Novell, Asay was General Manager at Lineo, an embedded Linux software startup, where he ran Lineo’s Residential Gateway business. He is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).
Convinced of his cred?
Asay blogged about the move today, sharing his feelings and providing a skeleton outline of his focus and motivation for the move and what he’ll be tackling at Canonical.
My guess is that the Ubuntu community is cheering on this move — bringing onboard an open source ambassador who also understands the business side is a strong move for the company that has been gaining momentum in Linux distribution market-share. But as a blogger, Asay is not without his critics, and I anticipate seeing a couple of public displays of distaste for the selection. What do you think?
Canonical has a couple of key releases coming up, including the April launch of Lucid Lynx (10.04) that might serve as the first test of Silber and Asay’s leadership. It will be interesting to watch.
And a shout-out to Brian Proffitt, who said in his blog what I didn’t have the guts to say to the folks at Canonical: Please, for the sake of open source bloggers collective egos, keep the man busy!]]>
Linux was thought to be a player in the netbook business, but a Spring 2009 NPD Group study shows that Windows has a 90% share of the netbook OS market. It seems silly to be talking about any Windows desktop operating system as a Linux killer. There are so few Linux client operating systems deployed compared to Windows that this discussion is off target, especially because it appears that Windows 7 is an improvement over Windows Vista.
Today, about 25 or 26 paid Windows client operating systems are shipped for each paid Linux client shipped, according to IDC. Paid Windows client operating systems have more than 90% market share while Mac and Linux make up most of the remaining share. The market share lead that Windows has over Linux is not expected to change much for the foreseeable future.
There are about 30 times as many paid Windows client operating systems in use as there are paid Linux client operating systems deployed. And there are about 13 times as many non-paid Windows client operating systems in use as there are non-paid Linux clients.
Non-paid Linux client shipments are growing faster than paid Linux client shipments while paid Windows client shipments are growing faster than non-paid Windows client shipments. These two trends are also true for Linux and Windows installed bases. Any notion that Linux client operating systems are cutting into Windows’ client dominant market share is ill-founded.
Windows 7 Business, scheduled to ship in October 2009, is expected to be the best Windows client operating system ever. According to IDC, Windows 7 Business will overtake shipments of Vista Business by the end of 2010. Windows XP Professional, Vista’s client predecessor, is also expected to give way to Windows 7 Business by the end of next year.
A unified Linux desktop
So if Linux has any chance of cutting into Windows client’s market share, which flavor of Linux will it be?
Today, the leading Linux client operating system vendor is Red Flag followed by Turbolinux, according to IDC. Ubuntu Desktop has more paid Linux client market share than does Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) Desktop or Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED). Red Flag also leads in non-paid Linux client shipments with Ubuntu Desktop in second place. RHEL Desktop and SLED have larger shares of the non-paid Linux client shipments than they do of paid Linux client shipments. This is also true for Ubuntu.
Ubuntu Desktop is by far the fastest growing Linux client operating system for both paid Linux and non-paid Linux client shipments with three to four times the growth rate of either SLED or RHEL Desktop. With respect to non-paid Linux, Ubuntu Desktop’s market share growth rate is about four to six times the growth rate for SLED and RHEL Desktop. If Ubuntu Desktop continues to grow anywhere nearly as fast as it has grown in the past year, it will shortly be the leading paid and non-paid Linux client operating system in the world.
Ubuntu Desktop got a boost recently when IBM and Canonical launched Linux and cloud-based desktop software in the U.S. The software package, IBM Client for Smart Work, delivers productivity and collaboration software with a savings of up to 50% per seat on software costs versus a Windows-based desktop. The software includes word processing, spreadsheets, etc. from IBM Lotus Symphony; email from IBM Lotus Notes; and cloud-based tools from LotusLive.com
It is not clear whether Ubuntu Desktop can make a dent in Windows client operating system market share, but it is clear that Novell and Red Hat have not been successful and likely will not be successful. Linux vendors have been using security, TCO, and usability as the primary reasons that you should switch from Windows to Linux clients. Security is no longer a differentiator nor is usability, especially with Windows 7. And TCO is a weak argument without application availability. Many of the applications that we take for granted on Windows client operating systems are not available on Linux.
Novell tries to make a strong case for SLED over Windows Vista in a paper titled Lower Your TCO with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (PDF) citing lower TCO, better security, better productivity, etc. Red Hat pushes RHEL Desktop with its enterprise customers. The real hang-ups for Linux client operating systems are lack of applications and the cost/pain of moving from Windows to Linux.
I believe that the only way Linux clients can make a dent in Windows client operating systems’ market share is if the Linux vendors adopt a single Linux client operating system, such as Ubuntu Desktop (with a name change), and market and sell it against Windows. Commercial Linux vendors use the same code base for their Linux client operating systems as they use for their Linux server operating systems, but create separate DVDs for the bits. Even if we consider that cost saving practice, Linux vendors would save considerable engineering/marketing costs by collectively developing and selling a single Linux client operating system.
The open source community has gotten behind Firefox, and its market share has grown from 3.6% in 2004 to more than 20% in 2009. This could also happen to the Ubuntu client operating system with Linux community support. If Ubuntu client could garner 10% of the client operating system market by 2014, over 25 million copies of Ubuntu client would be sold, giving Linux client the volume that it needs to generate serious revenue and placing it on track to become a real competitor to Windows. At $5 per subscription, Ubuntu client would generate $125 million in 2014. Today, the average selling price of Linux client is under $10.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bill Claybrook is President of New River Marketing Research, a marketing research firm that focuses on Linux, open source software, and commercial grid computing.]]>
All agreed that these events were good fun. The VooDoo Doughnuts and local wine/beer/vodka/sake tasting was also a smash hit for those attending. For those unable to attend, the livestreaming of keynotes offered by Linux Pro Magazine was appreciated. The recorded kernel panel discussion is now available for on-demand viewing.
Nonprofits using Linux to stay competitive
Beyond the kernel roundtable, the most popular keynote was given by the vice president of information services at Sesame Workshop, Noah Broadwater. If you’re unfamiliar with hearing about Sesame Workshop in tech circles, think Elmo. The group won an Emmy for New Approaches in the Children’s Daytime television category for their associated websites, Web casts and interactivity. Broadwater explained how his organization reuses older Solaris boxes as a testing environment and open source software in the development itself. Using this approach, the nonprofit’s Emmy-winning website came in under budget at less than $3 million. The Sesame Workshop holds onto their new development advances for a two-year period and then contributes them back to the community, in an effort to protect their work from big-budget competitors.
The future of Linux on the desktop
One of the broad themes that was touched on at the conference was Linux on the desktop. Multiple speakers discussed the topic, giving predictions for its success and advice to the larger community about how this might be realized. IBM’s vice president of open source and Linux, Bob Sutor talked about the options – the desktop goes away as people begin to expand their use of mobile devices or the Linux desktop could eventually gain parity with Windows and Mac. Perhaps, as Windows declines in popularity with each more complex release, we could see a rise in Linux desktop popularity. Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, openSUSE community manager talked about the lack of marketing and suggested that shipping Linux pre-installed on more laptops would be one way to make it accessible to more users. Then there was the entire Moblin track at the conference, presenting the “future” of Linux on the desktop. Finally, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the most popular Linux desktop flavor, Ubuntu, spoke at the conference. He advocated having a shared cadence and coordination between projects and distributions, as well as improving quality and design.
“We definitely shouldn’t give up the desktop,” Shuttleworth said. “This is one of the most exciting years for the desktop in living memory.”
More on Shuttleworth’s talk can be read in an article by Sean Michael Kerner at internetnews.com: Shuttleworth: Don’t give up on the desktop.
Diversity in the Linux community
Another broad theme was that of diversity in the Linux community. Carla Schroder wrote on Monday afternoon that the Linux “community” didn’t look very diverse. And the topic of the involvement of women in the community was brought up more than once. Starting with Linux Foundation President Jim Zemlin’s keynote in which he pointed out that there is a 100:1 ratio between men and women in the Linux community. But the incident that got the most attention was Shuttleworth’s gaffe during his keynote. ( Full disclosure: I was not present at the time of Shuttleworth’s presentation, and therefore cannot speak to the specific wording or context, but others were.) His statement of women not understanding Linux was enough to get a quickly drafted letter from “Geek Feminism” blog author, Kirrily Robert.
I can’t begin to cover all the things that went on at the inaugural LinuxCon. Most agreed it was a good time and well done. For some other perspectives, here are some other attendees opinions and blogs following the show. I will update it or you can add new links to blogs in the comments below.
Practicality shines at LinuxCon 2009 by Phil Odence, Black Duck Software
LinuxCon Review: It’s all about community by Dawn Foster, Fast Wonder Consulting
LinuxCon Audio Diary 1 and LinuxCon Audio Diary 2 by Dan Lynch of Linux Outlaws]]>