Ubuntu: Linux's Obama (Sort Of) - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
2/25/2008
10:28 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Ubuntu: Linux's Obama (Sort Of)

What is it about Ubuntu that has generated such excitement about Linux?  To steal a word from Obama's playbook, "Change."

What is it about Ubuntu that has generated such excitement about Linux?  To steal a word from Obama's playbook, "Change."

In the four years it's been around, Ubuntu's managed to set itself apart from the rest of the Linux distributions out there by dint of two things: it evolves, and it evolves on a fairly aggressive schedule.  They don't let things languish.  Part of that is because they have solid backing and a broadening circle of support from the industry, but I'm inclined to believe it's also because they don't just sit around and say "Good enough."  They ask, "What can we do now?"

In Mark Shuttleworth's recent e-mail to the Ubuntu developer's mailing list, he outlines the goals for the 8.10 version of Ubuntu, the "Intrepid Ibex" (what happens when they run out of letters?).  The big goal this time around is mobile connectivity:

A particular focus for us will be pervasive Internet access, the ability to tap into bandwidth whenever and wherever you happen to be. No longer will you need to be a tethered, domesticated animal -- you'll be able to roam (and goats do roam!) the wild lands and access the Web through a variety of wireless technologies. We want you to be able to move from the office, to the train, and home, staying connected all the way.

Leigh Dyer, at PC Authority in Australia, dropped a wish list that included, among other things, 3G network support.  That sounds like a must-have for the kind of always-on-anywhere networking Mark is talking about.

The way Ubuntu has flourished, even without stuff like this yet added to it, is a source of great hope for everyone who cares about open source.  It shows that it's not just possible to put something like this out there, but have it flourish and even have it picked up and re-used by commercial partners (e.g., Dell, or the Wal-Mart PC).

That said, I do worry, though, whether or not they can sustain that kind of development pace.  Two major releases a year or so is a lot to look forward to, and I do worry about the possibility of developer burnout, unrealistic goal-setting, and many other things that could cause Ubuntu's development to stagnate.  I'm also learning that it's not enough to say "Well, if they don't do it, someone else can fork it," because the code is one thing, but a strong and insightful development team is another entirely.  Good programmers are tough enough to find; a collection of good programmers who can work together is even tougher to assemble.

What I hope for most from Ubuntu is not just that it contains this or that feature -- although I have my own wish list which I should publish -- but that it earns a position of respect alongside Windows and the Mac.  And I'd also hope that such a thing doesn't come from Windows or the Mac being brought low, but by Ubuntu reaching as high as it can.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

News
How SolarWinds Changed Cybersecurity Leadership's Priorities
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/26/2021
Commentary
How CIOs Can Advance Company Sustainability Goals
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  5/26/2021
Slideshows
IT Skills: Top 10 Programming Languages for 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/21/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll