2c about the development of ubuntu
sh at sourcecode.de
Mon Jan 2 13:54:49 GMT 2006
On Sunday 01 January 2006 22:25, Robos wrote:
> On Sun, 01.01.06, Stephan Hermann <sh at sourcecode.de> wrote:
> > [...]
> Is it me or is there a certain shift from "linux for human beings" to
> "linux for the corporate environment - free!". I would think that already
> enough companies cater for the server side of linux: ibm in conjunction
> with ..., novell and such that in that area there are enough players.
Well, I would comment this with "Linux is Choice" and there is never enough of
choice :) And, seriously, SysAdmins are as well Human Beings. Sometimes this
human nature can be hide, but after 10-12 hours of work, the SysAdmin becomes
On the other hand, you need to have two or more different views about
OS/Software business. Especially in the Ubuntu environment.
First of all, don't think about Ubuntu being a "commercial OS". It's not, it
will never be, because Ubuntu belongs to the "Ubuntu Foundation".
Second, thinking about the "Sponsor", yes, I know, it's quite sensational and
suprising that someone like a SelfMadeMan, e.g. as Mark, is going on his
adventure tour and spending a lot of money towards this distribution. But
nevertheless, his money is not growing on a tree (as far as I know ;)) so he
has to ensure, that his money he invests will give him as well a return. To
do this, it's good to know that there is a company or two or three, that is
doing this purpose.
Canonical is paying the devs, is paying the wonderful, free for the users,
shipit cds. But please be mature enough to think about a revenue stream.
Thinking about that, it's quite fair, that Canonical can earn money with this
free software, the same way as RedHat or Novell or Mandriva is earning money
with Free Software.
So, on one side, you have the "normal user" which is ordering shipit cds or
downloads the iso, burn it, and install it on their private systems as
desktop or as server on their rootserver or as fileserver in their locale
Those users are ensured to have at least a possibilty to have a 3 years
lifetime support for their desktop or 5 years support for their server base.
Support means here, that they're able to update from Dapper to each new
release in the coming future in the 3 or 5 years timeframe.
On the other side, we have the "business user", which wants to have commercial
support for the OS and/or software he/she installs. The commercial support
comes from a Canonical support partner company for the OS, and from different
software vendors for their business software (e.g. SAP, Oracle, IBM, etc. you
For a software vendor it is quite important, that they certify a special
release of the OS, so Canonical itself gives them the possibilty to do so,
because Canonical is paying for the "work to have the OS supported over a
long period of time" (and believe me, 3/5 years is quite a long time in our
So, do we have a switch from "linux for human beings" to "linux for the
corporate environment - free!"?
For me no, because everyone human being is participating, and Canonical itself
can earn the money, to invest again into making Ubuntu the better choice of a
Linux distribution. But in contrary to RedHat or Novell/SuSE, Canonical is
not earning the money with selling a special "Brand of the Community
OS" (RHEL or Novell/SuSE EL).
> I said, and microsoft said, the licensing cost is - for a company -
> neglectable to the cost of support and the cost of e.g. oracle.
To be honest, if you have to care about < 50 servers/workstations those costs
are not neglectable, because the company is not as big as e.g. a company
which runs >100 servers/workstations. Yes, yes I know, MS Select contracts
are there, but those costs are only payable if you think about companies with
more then >500 employees, but even those costs are reoccuring and for me as
well not neglectable.
Oracle is again different, you have different license models, different ways
how to see the work of Oracle Software. But even those costs are not
But yes, seeing support costs for MS or Oracle or RH are much higher then
sometimes buying the software. But at a large scale, you don't buy the
software anymore, you license the software on Number of CPUs base.
> What I see is this: canonical can more easily make support contracts with
> companies about servers at the moment - BECAUSE "linux isn't ready for the
> desktop". That was - at least I understood it like this - what ubuntu
> wanted to do.
To be honest, Linux is ready for desktop since 2000, that's what I said during
my RH brainwashing at RH HQ in 2001, and that is what I am thinking since
1993. It's a matter of fact, that many people were frightend about "Unix on a
Workstation", but in some areas, you will always see Unix on Workstations
with ugly CDE or ugly MWM (that's my private opinion). Since GNOME2 and
KDE2/3 Unix (in common) and Linux as special flavour of a Unix like OS is
ready for the Desktop.
But because their was no one who made this clear, who ran a "loud noise
marketing and PR campaign, nobody wanted to see this fact.
But since "Warty" (2004) and most likely "Hoary" (2005) the world came to the
conclusion "Wow, their is this Ubuntu OS and it 'just works' on my
workstation". Well, the Linux World could have this earlier, but neither
RedHat/SuSE was able to promote this (or they didn't want that) neither
Slackware/Debian/Gentoo was able to establish this feeling.
And now comes this "SpaceCowboy from South Africa" and is doing it. He
collects a bunch of good OSS developers, is paying them through a software
company he founded, and he is pushing the slogan "Linux for Human Beings",
forcing anybody to listen to the drums, which are spreading the news. (BTW,
did you ever see an advertisement of Ubuntu in the usual places? No?!)
Actually, Mark is doing a great job with this idea, and he has all the respect
I can give a man/woman doing this. But even then, he or his company has all
the rights to earn money with supporting the "corporate users" and he has to
do it, because without Canonicals work and efford, Linux (speaking not about
the kernel but about a complete distribution) will stay only as a server OS
choice, and will not be ready for the Desktop in the next 20 years.
And you know why? Because many of the clients for special software will always
run only on Windows, and that won't change, if nobody is pushing it.
Thinking about Novell/SuSE. Please think about, where Novell came from...and
their favourite choice is still Windows. SuSE Linux was only a way away from
their old Novell Server OS, which is old and obsolete since 100 years.
Thinking about RedHat, even they play a role in not pushing Linux to the
Desktops. Because they don't want, because the client software for e.g.
SAP/Oracle/you name it is running on, take a guess, yes, right, Windows.
> Make linux more userfriendly to the human behind the machine
> on his desk. THEN companies will approach canonical about support contracts
> for linux on the desktop.
No. You will gain more "support contracts" if you are forcing the media to
push a word. WIthout PR or marketing like MS or RH is doing you can forget
about being a first class workstation OS.
But for this, you need a first class, well supported, operating system, with a
lot of supported killer app software. And secondly you need to make sure,
that the software vendors can trust you.
> Fewer, in smaller volume, but _that_ was what I
> understood Mark was spending his money on.
I think we don't have to care about where and why Mark is spending his money.
It's his business, and he can decide whatever he wants, how he is spending
his money. I could understand, when he tells anyone tomorrow, that is retires
from any business he runs, and is going back to the ISS space station or is
moving his house on top of the Mount Everest.
More important is, that there is a company which invests money and resources
into software which you as a software or hardware vendor can trust and that
there is a company which invests money and resources into software where you
as user can trust, too.
> Surely ubuntu will amortize
> itself faster with more focus on the server - but was that the intent?
This is not correct. Please have in mind, that most of the work on OSS is done
by people like you or me, who don't get any money from anyone working on OSS.
So, in contrary to e.g. MS, who has a lot of developers on the paylist,
running an OSS company like RedHat or SuSE is always cheaper then running a
company like MS. But the revenue streams are quite different. That's why RH
and Novell/SuSE switched to Community Driven development. To increase their
revenue stream. Less people to pay, more money to come, while selling
Enterprise Linux Disitributions, which are most of the time developed by
Thinking about Canonical, this is quite different. Canonical will never sell
Ubuntu (in this form as we know it today) neither is Canonical increasing
their revenue stream with selling Enterprise Linux Boxes.
There is no such thing as Enterprise Ubuntu. There is only Ubuntu (and their
flavours like Kubuntu/Edubuntu/XFCE Ubuntu (TBD)) and a company who is giving
support to other companies.
> what I read in Mark's remarks about dapper drake he wants it to go head on
> against vista - not windows server 2000something. I think there is this
> notion about "linux not ready for the desktop" (I run it solely, on lots of
> machines) _because_ nobody is doing something about this. I thought ubuntu
> was. Am I wrong?
Well, Windows 2000something is obsolete, when Vista will hit the market. So
Ubuntu has to fight on the Server market against Vista, and, this is a bigger
problem, as well against Vista on the Desktop.
And yes, Canonical pays a lot of people, who are doing a lot of work for
Ubuntu to make it better, and it doesn't matter if it's on the Desktop or on
And yes, Ubuntu has a lot of community members who are doing a lot more work
Ubuntu to make it better on the Desktop and on the Server.
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