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Linux Business

Is Ubuntu Selling Out or Growing Up? 345

AlexGr notes an article by Jeff Gould where he says " Sometimes I wonder whether Ubuntu is really an open source software company any more. Yes, yes, I realize Ubuntu is not a company at all but a free Linux distribution, GPL'd and open source by definition. But still, the Ubuntu distro is sponsored by a traditional for-profit company. The answer that has recently emerged to this question is, "yes and no." Yes, of course, because Ubuntu's web site promises that the distro "will always be free of charge, including enterprise releases and security updates." But Ubuntu the enterprise ecosystem — understood as the collection of desktops and servers running Ubuntu in a given organization — is not."
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Is Ubuntu Selling Out or Growing Up?

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:19PM (#23255536)
    Since Canonical is a for-profit company, this raises an interesting question. Namely, how exactly are they making money? Their wikipedia entry [] only indicates a couple of minor proprietary products, neither of which I've ever even heard of. Is this one of those internet boom style companies that only makes money in theory, or do they actually have an income source?
  • by wile_e_wonka ( 934864 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:34PM (#23255796)
    The summary asserts that Canonical is a "traditional for-profit company," but the Wikipedia entry you point to paints a picture of a company that is not traditional. For example, it says the company was created for the purpose of promoting free software products. I don't really see anything traditional about that.

    As for how they make their money, I think they primarily earn revenue by selling support for Ubuntu. You know, so, like, a business installs Ubuntu on its servers or on a bunch of desktops or something, they can purchase a support agreement for those computers from Canonical.
  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) * on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @05:08PM (#23256350) Journal
    Its also worth noting that it took 10 years for RedHat to establish themselves as a top-tier enterprise vendor. So even if Canonical isn't doing much significant now, IMO they are preparing the groundwork for a real revenue stream and probably an IPO.

    (While RH sold boxed distros for the longest time, it was more to build name recognition. They never really made money until they switched to the subscription model.)
  • Ubuntu is good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @05:27PM (#23256602)
    The whole "Yes and no" of Ubuntu is what attracts mainstream users who use Linux not because of pragmatic decisions but because it is the best tool. Ubuntu is taking the best of open source and filling the gaps where open source simply is not for whatever reason. I am a person who praises Debian for sticking to fundamentals and I'm glad it's there, but open source on the desktop is a bit of a chicken and egg thing. Ubuntu is advertising the possibilities of open source to people who don't care about those fundamentals and just want to use their computer. These newcomers to open source don't quite know how to perceive the benefits of open source, and once they start using it for other reasons, they begin to see these benefits in real world every day use in the way that they wouldn't see it by observing the dogma. If these people wouldn't use open source before because they were missing a few pieces where they don't want to shell out extra money for more compatible hardware or take the time to figure out a few workarounds. When they come to see the benefits of open source then they will realize that Ubuntu is using proprietary bits as a workaround in order to make it easier for them, and they will come to see how the proprietary bits are actually holding them back from certain things. Then they will make up their minds, and that's fair enough I think. Ubuntu can be run without any proprietary parts, and since Ubuntu's increased popularity there have been more eyes on open source. The people who appreciate open source fundamentals are not going away or changing their minds, and the hard core floss idealists are not going to budge anyway. Do we really have to mark Ubuntu as evil, or can't we simply acknowledge it as another approach? I don't believe Ubuntu is taking anything away from open source. If that changes then we'll be more ready to deal with it, as more people will be more intimately familiar with open source, and that means they'll be in a better position to deal with it.
  • by r7 ( 409657 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:50PM (#23259734)

    RHEL and SUSE, and their free equivalents already do absolutely everything you need a server OS to do, are stable as hell(and way ahead of canonical when it comes to security
    Nothing could be further from the truth. A default install of all three will illustrate:
    * Best gui install and package tools:
        1) Ubuntu (synaptic)
        2) RHEL (yumex)
        3) SuSE (yast)
    * Fewest unnecessary applications running and listening to open network ports (portmap, nfs, xfs, ...):
        1) Ubuntu
        2) SuSE
        3) RHEL
    * Do pkg deinstalls also remove dependencies:
        YES) Ubuntu
        NO) SuSE, RHEL
    * Best hardware compatibility (wifi drivers, etc):
      1) Ubuntu
      2) SuSE
      3) RHEL

    As to support, no Linux support is particularly good from my perspective (as a multi-decade sysadmin) and none compare to the Sun or IBM of old. That's the fault of poorly documented and sloppily designed GPL software for the most part, but also of proprietary x86 hardware manufacturers.

    So there's a really big opportunity here, for the first company to do Linux support well. Ubuntu is currently the most promising candidate in this field, by a large margin (from the perspective of someone who works on all these OS and several others every day).

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.