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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ubuntu is SuperOS

Ubuntu. Humanity to others. That's what it means, right?

For many of us, it is the Linux OS. For some, it is the only one. For others - its the show-off brother. An enemy for others.

What is it about Ubuntu, which in few years of its existence became one of the leading distros around, and the one for many? It gave a basis for many others and variations of sorts.
And what does it mean for the rest of us?

There are many explanations for many things, but I'm going to dig few important ones.

First. Ubuntu is GNU/Linux operating system. All those who jealous, please hold your peace. Ubuntu pushes forward the same thing that you do. It's in a user experience, stupid.

Second. Ubuntu is made with usability in mind. All Debian zealots (who "translate" Ubuntu as "can't install Debian") are probably correct from technical standpoint. They just forget, that computer is a tool, and I (and many many many) other users do not use Ubuntu, or Debian or Gentoo. They use computer. Surfing the web. Reading email. Watching porn movies. These sorts of things. So we don't actually care most of the time what operates our computer tool. That's why many of us like Ubuntu.

Third. Ubuntu has a commercial support of involved vendor. This in turn means that there will be someone who will push it further while money is in the game. Given that Linux OSes came up greatly up until now without formal support of many distributions (except maybe Red Hat and Novell), another player is definitely a plus, even though Red Hat and Novell do not see it that way.

Forth. Ubuntu is about community. Everyone knows it by now. For such a project to be successful, it has to build a community around it. There was a basis for this community in the first place: Debian. But Debian folk missed the usability part. Ubuntu created a community which is fun to be in. This leads us to -

Fifth. Ubuntu is a successful business model. Take some niche but wanted and/or undeveloped area. Find negative aspects in existing offers. Make what other don't. Eat them alive.

Sixth. Ubuntu is making it with a good planning and within the wishes of their users. Who said that I will always want open software? Yes, I'd prefer it to other one, but hey, first and foremost I want my tool to work. "No 3d drivers? You mean, not at all? Not even those non open source ones? No, thank you, I will use Ubuntu instead".

Seventh. Ubuntu is doing it for every platform. Desktop. Server. Mobile. Internet Kiosks. Ubuntu is everywhere.

And you know what? They will succeed. Where Red Hat will fail, Ubuntu will pick up. Where Novell will piss some communities off, Ubuntu will be careful.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe for a second Ubuntu is perfect. I don't think that any such project can be.

But I also remember, that their success will benefit me in all the ways possible.
Go Ubuntu!


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Kevin Mark said...

Debian's community started when the intertubes where much younger and when Gnu and Linux required a sterner stock to make your computer run. By contrast, Ubuntu had this whole teletubby thing from day one and has folks policing its channels to slap any wrist that gets out of line. Its meant for desktop newbies. Debian is the universal OS.

Alex said...

Yea, sure.

Just cut hands of all those who imagined to steal his great Majesty Debian's ideas and implement them without asking a permission to a Stupid Linux version.

Now, until my girlfriend, who easily can work with Windows OS and do everything she needs with her computer will be able to "work" with Debian, don't even say a word.

If you want technical debate - we can open it, say, about what is better - Gentoo or Debian, and I'll agree with you that Ubuntu is a pet.

But if we're talking usability - Debian sucks.

I don't mean Debian's developer usability. Usability should be universal.

tante said...

<disclaimer>I have Ubuntu running on my laptop</disclaimer>

Some people I know run Ubuntu systems. It's easy to install, it works around installed Windows versions and there's tools like automatix that try to fix some of the shortcomings.

Ubuntu did raise awareness for linux a lot. Many people who would never have considered using linux tried it. But do they stay?

Many don't. Ubuntu gets lots of downloads and what not, but many people install it just once, have a look at some of the features and then go back to Windows to play WoW or something.

Ubuntu brings many usability improvements to the desktop, many of those are being brought back to upstream, but those are more visible to us Linux users that already know their way around.

Those people coming from windows still have problems getting problems solved in Ubuntu, just as they have problems getting issues resolved on windows. But on windows they have a neighbor or boyfriend to fix it.

Ubuntu still does not change people's attitude in a way that they realize that reading a manual is the easiest way to learn.

From my experience Ubuntu is great if you run into no problems, as soon as someone wants to play games or whatever and problems emerge it still goes down the "linux sucks, nothing works" road.

Actually, sometimes I think Ubuntu might somewhat hurt linux development since people get told "it's so easy" and then can't get something running which makes them feel somewhat dumb: "Everyone says it's so easy but I can't install simple games". They don't realize that having Windows Programs run is not a simple requirement.

Apart from that the quality of some of the ubuntu packages is debateable (especially amarok comes to mind which is crappy when it comes to certain tag formats or DAAP, things that work flawlessly on my Gentoo box).

Marc-André Appel said...

I started a long time ago with Linux by using various distros and i agree in the point that Ubuntu is very easy to use, what for me is a plus, then now i use lesser time in maintaining my OS and spend more time in my actual work on my computer. That's the reason i use now Ubuntu.
All those flames about wich distro is the better one or that ubuntu is much too easy - WTF???
What is the main goal for Linux? To stay a mystery for most PC users? Then go to BSD (no offense). I'm very happy to see how far Linux has gone with Ubuntu in point of usability, mostly for Windows Users who wants to go away from Windows.
Linux finally became a strong alternative to Windows, and it's that what i wished for 10 years ago when i started with Linux.
I like the comfort i have in Ubuntu, like i was used to under Windows. Comfort and usability doesn't make Linux bad or put it on the same level as Windows (or Mac OS X), it becomes a competitor who showes the others what can be accomplished by a good community. And the community around Ubuntu is much more helpful and kind then i experienced by the Gentoo community. Why has there to be a war between the communities of different distros? The base is everywhere the same, the Linux kernel.

Just my opinion...

SirYes said...

Gentoo, Debian (4.0), Ubuntu (5.04 - 7.04), PCLinuxOS, Mint, Sabayon, (and to some extent) openSUSE, Fedora -- I like them all! TBH, I rarely have only one Linux OS installed, typically it's a mixture of three or more. :)

Honestly, I don't care much if it's Ubuntu or Debian - I really can do 99% of the same things and/or customizations in both of them. And since they sport (almost) the same set of applications, I hardly notice any important differences after I boot and log in.
[FUN] Granted, Ubuntu has a nice start-up splash by default. And that must be *teh reazon* for choosing it over *teh ugly* Debian. [/FUN]

And for all those thinking that installing Debian is hard, I'm positively sure they haven't tried the latest release, Etch. Just remember to start the installer in GUI mode by typing "installgui" at the "boot:" prompt. Alternatively try one of Debian Live media. Only then one can authoritatively compare the easiness of the Ubuntu and Debian installers.

(Hint: Debian made long leaps towards usability recently. And it has never been easier to install right now).

Anonymous said...

I think many miss the point that vista sucks! It is not a viable usable OS and in a great push MS pushed many computers with this OS. The owners are finding that Ubuntu is a viable solution to the defunct OS vista that some manufacture installed in an otherwise great computer. This is the reason for the sudden popularity of Ubuntu and the aspect of dell releasing a Ubuntu OS in their computer offerings. Many people like Mac's and don't even realize the os is a Unix based system called free BSD, basically similar in nature look and feel of Linux. Ubuntu is Linux grown up and running proud I have it on my home computer just to see if I could live with it as I have had so many problems with Linux in the past and I must say it is getting there probably Linux is now at the state of development that windows was at with win 2k. I think there will be a large influx of desktop users making the switch, as many have made the switch to Firefox once they find out that it just outclasses IE. Ubuntu just outclasses vista and is a very strong competitor to windowsXP

Anonymous said...

I have Fedora 6 on my main machine. I installed Ubuntu on my laptop because my younger brother put it on his laptop and it detected EVERYTHING on the first try. Same experience for me. I have a lot of projects going on and, while I'm not averse to getting down and dirty with some conf files, I needed something that would work right away. I could always make tweaks later. Thus, I chose Ubuntu.

I also like Ubuntu/Debian's ability to upgrade while running the system. Fedora requires one to go through a process similar to initial install which is EXTREMELY annoying!!

Anonymous said...

"Just remember to start the installer in GUI mode by typing "installgui" at the "boot:" prompt."

That's the whole point. Coming from the viewpoint of a person who has only recently begun experimenting with Linux, are they going to know stuff like that?

I have people telling me to "RTFM" all the time, ignoring me when I say I have read the F* manual, just that most of it is written BY long-time Linux users, FOR long-time Linux users. Most people who have been using Windows for their entire lives don't know what most of the stuff being talked about in those manuals means, and finding information that is simple and easy to understand is not always easy. It seems that most long-time Linux users have overlooked the fact that not everybody is super-skilled with a computer, and that's one of the reasons I like Ubuntu (though I use Kubuntu) -- It's simple, easy and generally has simple manuals that speak to the people who are clueless, not to the people who are already skilled.

bp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bp said...

I have never been able to get Ubuntu to run on any PC or laptop I have attempted to install. And what the heck is with all the Debian CD's? I have used Fedora, OpenSuse and PCLinuxOS. Of all the distributions I tried, only PCLinuxOS correctly identified all peripherals on the systems I have upgraded, and installed all the necessary drivers. All I had to do was set up the wireless network connection and key. I couldn't even get Ubuntu to recognize there was a wireless USB card, and I could not find any help with the installation. So much for community.

IsaacKuo said...

Ian Murdock considers Ubuntu to be essentially Debian, and I must agree. While there are zealots for which there is a "feud" between Debian and Ubuntu, there's actually a high degree of shared effort and cross-polination among the developers.

You don't see this degree of cooperation and compatability in rpm distributions.

I used to think that Shuttleworth should have worked within the standard Debian repositories, but now I think it has worked out for the best. Had he worked within Debian, there would have been too much of a risk of him fracturing the Debian community with a "hostile takeover".

Instead, we have independent but cooperating brothers Ubuntu and Debian. Shuttleworth and Canonical can safely "experiment" Ubuntu; they can get into big commercial deals with Dell without affecting or worrying about Debian's Social Contract. In the meantime, Debian can stick to its long term strategy and ideals while reaping benefits from Ubuntu's successes. For example, LTSP integration into Debian might not have happened were it not for the Ubuntu effort.

Debian isn't about swaying with the times and that's the point. The Debian Social Contract and the Debian way of doing things is meant to ensure its continued survival without depending upon a central benefactor. Without a central benefactor, the only thing holding Debian together is its ideals.

Ultimately, both Debian and Ubuntu are stronger for each other's existence.

Anonymous said...

Ubuntu is:

A rich billionaire (or is it only several hundred millions) wish fulfillment.

As long as he pumps money, Ubuntu will exist. Within 2 years of him stopping, Ubuntu will disappear.

Alex said...

"A rich billionaire (or is it only several hundred millions) wish fulfillment.

As long as he pumps money, Ubuntu will exist. Within 2 years of him stopping, Ubuntu will disappear."

Wrong. In 2 Years he'll be all over server and enterprise, and his IPO will make much more money than Red Hat's did.

Don't fool yourself that Mark will loose interest in Ubuntu. It his baby :-)

Glen said...

Interesting article and debate amongst the comments. I am a long time sysadmin (my hair is starting to go grey) and Windows user, I have recently converted my main machine to Ubuntu. I frequently get asked (as I imagine many of you do) to sort out friends/family PC problems. My view is this...

Vista sucks.
Much worse than the original release of XP. Alot of folk looking around for their next OS upgrade will be drawn to a user friendly alternative such as Ubuntu.

Alternative Linux distros.
I have tried several and none of them have the ease of use of Ubuntu. Surely the whole point of Linux is open, how can one distro "steal" something from another? I remember a time before Linux, when Windows was up and coming but with many flaws, the big Unix vendors discussed and planned on a single Unix for all their bespoke hardware, it never happened and their Unix business model was slowly eroded by Windows.

Ubuntu itself
Yes it is a much needed improvement, but there is still the need sometimes to hack around with text config files and to issue command line stuff to fix problems - USB2 PCI card bug; Nvidia drivers, etc. The variants for specific purposes, not just server and desktop, but educational, kiosk, etc, make quite a compelling case.

If the Ubuntu development stream continues on course, I think it will be phenomally successful and give MS some serious copetition at last on the OS front.

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