Ubuntu: the power of free software

There are hundreds of Linux distributions from which Red Hat and SuSE are likely the most popular in corporate deployment; and there is Ubuntu.

Why is Ubuntu, a relatively recent entrant into the crowded Linux distribution space, so successful to be selected by Sun and by Dell as an alternate certified and supported Operating System (OS) for their respective products, and selected also by the French Government to power desktops for Parliament and servers for the Ministry of Agriculture?

Possible elements contributing to Ubuntu's success include the following.

  • Mark Shuttleworth. Mark Shuttleworh articulated the free software commitment for Ubuntu and provided the funding for software development directly and through Canonical a UK based company focused on the promotion and support of free software projects.
  • Unique culture. Shuttleworth managed to attract talented personnel as well as define and promote a unique culture behind Ubuntu the product, the process for continued innovation and related support services.
  • Quality. Principle of least surprise is evident in Ubuntu. The user interface and selected packaged applications 'just work'. The OS is well integrated and tailored for use for desktop and for server functions.
  • Free software only. Products bundled with Ubuntu are those that are free of charge and free to distribute.
  • Multilingual support. This is the Ubuntu's statement re language support: "Ubuntu aims to be usable by as many people as possible, which is why we include the very best localization and accessibility infrastructure that the free software community has to offer."
  • Commercial technical support. Via Canonical and associated partners, paid support and technical assistance is available. Canonical global support site is based in Montreal, Canada.
  • Partnership program. Through Canonical, and associated certification program, there are Ubuntu support organizations across the world. Also, several Ubuntu-based value-added distributions benefit from the relationship and partnership evident through distibutions such as Kubuntu among several others. There is always a need to customize a Linux distribution for a company, for a Government, for an application. Ubuntu facilitates such work, everyone wins and maintains the continuity and presence of Ubuntu's core distribution.
  • Collaboration with the open-source community. Tight collaboration and use of common tools permit open-source participants to work together productively with Ubuntu and partners. This approach helps individual participants identify and schedule priority work, bug fixes and new development, efforts that contribute improve the quality of Ubuntu.
  • Free of patent agreements with Microsoft. While Novell's SuSE and few less known Linux distributions have signed patent/liability 'agreements' with Microsoft, Shuttleworth has stated the policy to maintain Ubuntu free of any such 'deals' that effectively compromise rather than contribute to keep software free for use and free for distribution.

No comments: