Enterprise Linux Log

Oct 19 2007   11:50AM GMT

Is the Ubuntu team stretched too thin?


Ubuntu 7.10, the latest release of one of the most popular Linux desktop distributions, is getting a hero’s welcome as a reliable desktop and as an enterprise server OS for the future. After launching yesterday, Oct. 18, the slew of articles about its desktop chops and server-side aspirations make it pretty clear: this cake was baked extremely well over the past six months and is ready for bigger and better things.

That said, I wouldn’t be a reporter if I didn’t mention that one of the users I contacted for a reaction to 7.10 saw a troubling trend in Ubuntu’s recent history.

Jean-Yves Quentel, a fellow blogger and former venture capitalist, is optimistic that the extensive work done on Ubuntu Server in 7.10 will for the most part strengthen the entire distribution. With every release, Ubuntu becomes more stable and secure, he said, and desktop users like him will again benefit from it. I’m inclined to agree: the addition of AppArmor is a nice feather in the cap of an OS that already had a pretty substantial security reputation.

But then there was that downside that I mentioned earlier. Quentel said the Ubuntu team might be stretched too thin as it focuses on making Ubuntu Server an enticing option for OEMs like Dell so they’ll pre-install it on their commodity servers. “[The developers] may be trying to do too many things at once and I have noticed a slowing-down of the community input in the past few months, which may or may not be a consequence of Canonical working more on their enterprise offering,” he said.

Is he right? Is Canonical’s vision of Ubuntu on the server and as a force in virtualization starting to affect the community? Is community input slowing down? This is the first I’d heard of it, but then again 7.10 arrived less than 24 hours ago. Your thoughts?

5  Comments on this Post

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  • stolennomenclature
    Two of the other major distros (Red Hat/Fedora and openSuse/Novell) are server based distros, and from what I have read re the Linux kernel development, this is server oriented too. Can't we have a distro that is desktop orinted instead? Isnt the server already well covered? Strange that the main target for free / open source software should be the corporate server domain. Why not target the community of orodinary citizens, the same ones who develop the software. Most of them use desktops, not run servers.
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  • pksings
    Companies spend money, lot's of it, on Server O/S. That also happens to be where the majority of growth of Linux purchases have been, no coincidence that the Linux companies focus on products that fit into that category. If the majority of money was spent on desktops, that's where they would focus, simple economics.. The money has to come from somewhere, it's what drives all of us and the IT/computer "business". Lot's of companies have come and gone, not able to survive financially on just desktops or niche applications, the highly visible ones that seem to be making money and prospering are the server oriented ones. The community of "ordinary citizens" largely download for free and (myself included) don't spend a whole lot of money on Linux. Companies on the other hand, do. So it seems, if you want to stay in business, and make money, sell to companies. Simple economics. To change this, I think we the "ordinary citizens" have to become an economic force..
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  • Fred Arnold
    "an OS that already had a pretty substantial security reputation." Eh? From where? Their own PR? Ubuntu has traditionally shipped with no running services, but it does not include a firewall configurator either, which is a huge flaw IMO, because users change their systems. Additionally it ships with Avahi-daemon running by default (it's like zeroconf) even though there are virtually no supported applications or devices, and Bluetooth is also enabled by default. These are two big potential security holes; Bluetooth has been used for remote exploits by a number of ingenious devices. I'm also troubled by the pass Ubuntu gets on its poor quality control. Their record on bugfixes is poor and getting worse all the time. I don't know why they even bother with accepting bug reports, since most of the them are ignored. Ubuntu pulls packages out of all Debian repos including Experimental. Ahem. That would be OK if they would actually fix problems, but they don't. As far as I'm concerned, Ubuntu is never better than half-baked and I don't see it improving anytime soon. I would never recommend using it as a server, except as a very well-protected internal server. Internet-facing? Forget it, unless you like being cracked.
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  • Zac
    Comment 4 Good one Fred. "I don’t see it improving anytime soon." Unfortunately Fred, It's people like you that will keep Linux in corner. Think about it.
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  • Antonio Vertigo
    This is Just silly that Ubuntu is being attacked over upstream software, its a distribution people! the point of a distribution is to re package what is available into the best possible product and add a little something of your own! not to fix everything, consider EVERY possible scenario that anyone could come up with to throw it off. Lets face it here guys if your smart enough to run a distro as a server, your probably smart enough to see if there is a firewall and if not INSTALL ONE!!!! If your truly foolish enough to run a server without security, then your probably foolish enough to drive home on four flat tires. Bugs are not ignored, "how does he know that" you ask? I get feedback and status updates on the ones I file, and I Triage bugs on Thursday nights! AHH now on to blue tooth.... again if you have sensitive data, or you have access to something more than YOUTUBE! you AGAIN are probably smart enough to turn it off, Out of curiosity how many evil hackers sit outside Joe blows house with blue tooth sniffers and slimjims? OK on to my point, your stressing over issues that aren't issues! Most Importantly my point is this, we all have to make decisions, for me, I had to get a second job to keep the lights on, For ubuntu they have to grab some cash from corporate america,UK,Sri lanka, and so forth
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