Is Ubuntu getting too big? …are you serious?!!
More Ubuntu news for you this time folks (I do like other distros as well honest), the 5th alpha testing release of Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon is now available for download. In line with all the other alphas in this series it has been code named Tribe 5. Development is obviously progressing well, the 6th and final alpha release (Tribe 6) is slated for early September and the beta release is due on September 27th, with the full release due in October. Plans can obviously still change but the omens are good at the moment.
I have to say there don’t seem to be a lot of major changes in this release from what I’ve seen, now that a lot of the major problems have been addressed in previous versions of Ubuntu it seems as though the OS is just being tweaked and fine tuned now. One thing I’d really like to see would be some more improvement of hardware support, in the wireless networking area particularly. It is still one of the major gripes I hear from people “Ubuntu doesn’t support my wireless card”, things have improved massively since Ubuntu first came on the scene a couple of years back but we must continue to strive for perfection and that process will never over. The day we think we’ve done everything possible and made the nest software ever is the day we die I think. Still, I can’t wait to see how 7.10 turns out and I mean to try out the latest alpha as soon as I get some free time… like that’ll happen any time soon 😉
Another piece of Ubuntu news this week was a report that according to the Google Trends analysis site Ubuntu is leaving the rest of the pack far behind in the Linux world. The figures show that since it’s inception in 2004 Ubuntu has grown massively in popularity with Canonical (the distributions corporate sponsor) claiming well over 6 million users leaving the likes of SuSE, Mandriva and Red Hat in it’s wake. The accuracy and relevance of these figures can be debated though, Google Trends looks only at the frequency of search terms relating to each of the distribution names, hardly an acid test but it still indicates the growing popularity of Ubuntu. I tried a quick comparison myself and here are the results I got:
So what does this mean for Linux as a whole? Is it good or is it bad? I hear people saying already that this means competition in the Linux world is dying and Canonical could be the next Microsoft in a few years. I don’t buy into this view at all and my advice to anyone who thinks this would be “put the crack pipe down and get some fresh air to clear your head”. Of course choice and competition are what the open source world is all about but just because Ubuntu is doing well doesn’t have to mean it’s evil. I don’t think we’ll ever see just one Linux distribution because of the nature of the GPL, sure there are big companies making money off Linux now but that doesn’t have to be seen as a bad thing as long as those companies behave in the right way, the very fact that any developments or improvements they make to Linux must be released back to the community for free means the likelihood of another Microsoft situation within the Linux world is virtually zero.
I think if anything this should serve as a wake up call to companies like Red Hat and Novell that they have to do better and compete more. Although I suspect those 2 fair better in the enterprise market and home desktops are not their goal. This is just my opinion of course and I could well be proved wrong but for now this is my firm view, if I’m wrong in 5 years time I’ll hold my hands up and you can all laugh at me and throw eggs if you like.
P.S – You can quote me on that 🙂