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Shuttleworth Says Canonical Is Not Cash-Flow Positive

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the can't-say-i'm-surprised dept.

Linux Business 304

eldavojohn writes "Mark Shuttleworth, the millionaire bankroller who keeps Ubuntu going strong, has revealed 'Canonical is not cash-flow positive' just as version 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) of the popular Linux distribution is released today. In a call, he said he 'had no objection' in funding Canonical for another three to five years. He did say, however, that if they concentrated on the server edition of Ubuntu that they could be profitable in two years."

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304 comments

Of course they should concentrate on the server (5, Insightful)

jcookeman (843136) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569697)

Red Hat itself has made it public that the desktop market is a very difficult one. Ubuntu has made very decent inroads to the desktop market for Linux, but it is true they need to put much more effort on the server side to become truly competitive. I think they have done some good work, but look forward to see what the community can provide in the next couple years. It's very hard to start competing in a market that is already spoken for by a few big players.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569897)

Red Hat itself has made it public that the desktop market is a very difficult one. Ubuntu has made very decent inroads to the desktop market for Linux
.

It depends, I suppose, on how low your expectations are. Top Operating System Share Trend [hitslink.com]

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (0, Flamebait)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570159)

Wow. Did anyone else notice that Win2K is actually going up? Maybe folks burnt on Vista are going back to the fugly goodness that is Win2K Pro. ;-)

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (5, Informative)

Legion_SB (1300215) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570227)

Wow. Did anyone else notice that Win2K is actually going up? Maybe folks burnt on Vista are going back to the fugly goodness that is Win2K Pro. ;-)

You might want to double-check the dates on that chart, friend. Win2000 is only going "up" when reading in reverse chronological order.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570289)

Clearly you didn't notice that the data is sorted in ascending date order?

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570321)

You're looking at the stats backwards. Win2k is going down... The only ones going up are Vista, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (5, Interesting)

Markspark (969445) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570169)

yeah, but still the fact that the increase of linux is almost 90% in little less than a year, it seems as though the ball has started to roll.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (4, Funny)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570447)

You're right. It looks like this is definitely the year of Linux on the desktop... again.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (3, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570461)

No, it's not amazing. Vista is raising at more than 100%. The old "my sales are up x%" gimmic is just that; a gimmic.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (0, Redundant)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570309)

Where can I get the MacIntel OS?

Yeah, take this graph seriously...

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570619)

Uh, Mac OS X running on Intel Macs.

Any local shop selling Macs these days.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (4, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570739)

Note that the stats you provide are from hitslink.com -- that excludes any users of adblock and any other crapblocker worth its salt.
Windows users will typically use MSIE and thus will be included unless their net admin installed some DNS or squid-based exclusion list. The rest of us are quite likely to have cesspools like hitslink blocked.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (0)

jcookeman (843136) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570741)

Well, that site can say what it wants. But, I know three different women that are using Ubuntu now, and they happen to really like it. That's pretty damn impressive. And, just a couple years back, it couldn't have been done.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570161)

but it does not have to be. honestly mediabuntu the unofficial and technically "illegal" offshoot is mainstream ready. If they have to charge to have a legal mediabuntu released so if you install it's ready to go even for the unknowing home user then that is what they need to do.

If joe sexpack can buy a $19.99 ubuntu cd from worst buy and get it installed and on the net watching people getting kicked in the nuts on youtube and playing his music it will take off fast. When it works on that old pc and they dont have to buy a new one and Vista....

but then it will also take advertising....

Hello I'm a Windows PC, and I'm a Ubuntu PC......

WPC: I'm good at business!
UPC: you suck dude... wow!..... suckage! sssssuuuuuccckkkkkk!
WPC: that's rude.
UPC: Looooser! You suck! Loser!
WPC: What is the matter with you?

Ubuntu..... because windows sucks...

well it would make people laugh :)

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (2, Funny)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570401)

I always thought the commercial should go something like:

Hello I'm a Mac.

And, I'm a PC. And so is he. And so is that guy with the beard over there.

Hi, I'm a Linux box.

In fact my buddies the server and the workstation are PC's too. Even this little guy.

Hi, I'm a netbook!

Is a PC.


Of course it's more of an Intel commercial than an MS one.

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570419)

And I suddenly realize that the entire push for linux is actually nothing more than insulting it's competition...

It's like politics!

Re:Of course they should concentrate on the server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570531)

I laughed

1st post using ubuntu 8.10 :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25569699)

1st post using ubuntu 8.10 :)

Re:1st post using ubuntu 8.10 :) (1)

jcookeman (843136) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569763)

Installed it in a vm already. Don't see much worth shouting about myself. No libmapi...

Re:1st post using ubuntu 8.10 :) (1)

devman (1163205) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570167)

It's on the GNOME road map for 2.26, look for it in Ubuntu 9.04

Re:1st post using ubuntu 8.10 :) (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570197)

Try this:

sudo apt-get install openchangeclient
sudo apt-get install openchangeserver

or just:

sudo apt-get install libmapi

Either way, according to the OpenChange site [openchange.org] , it's in Intrepid.

Really (5, Insightful)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569709)

What do they have to offer, besides the .deb repositories and less long term support, than Novell/SUSE and Red Hat or Oracle cannot do now?

They are late to the party, and while I am glad for the strides they have made, Novell and Red Hat can eat them for lunch with other tie ins with their product line.

Re:Really (2, Informative)

adamruck (638131) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569771)

Perhaps huge companies still use Redhat and Novell just for the name, however all of the linux sysadmins I know for smaller companies prefer ubuntu hands down.

Re:Really (4, Interesting)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569831)

The reason they use it for smaller companies is that they are probably NOT paying for support and don't call for things like kernel fixes or package fixes. What kind of support does Ubuntu have for tools when not even all versions of RHEL or SLES, let alone Oracle Linux are supported? Where is the OMSA package for Ubuntu?

The name helps sell PHBs, but the support from either RH or Novell is far better. I am sure Canonical can do well, but will they put boots on the ground in enough time to support outages?

What is the model for cloning machines, deploying machines and such?

What is the structure for connecting to various directories?

Re:Really (5, Insightful)

EagleRock (973742) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570303)

I think Canonical hit the ground running with Ubuntu Desktop, since it tried to bring Linux to the masses with easy GUI tools and whatnot. The problem is that Ubuntu's strengths don't carry over to Ubuntu Server, especially when you deal with SysAdmins that know what they're doing. Their only strength is that they're based off of Debian, which you can get with, well, Debian. You can tell that they are trying to tout ease-of-use with their default LAMP install out-of-the-box, but that's already been done years ago, and they just don't have the advanced server options that Novell or RedHat have for their enterprise solutions. I appreciate them trying, but their methodologies are doomed to fail.

Re:Really (0)

Synn (6288) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570425)

99.999% of the people deploying Linux servers don't need kernel or package fixes outside of what's provided from the mainline repositories.

Most people aren't using Oracle, directories services and such on Linux either. The vast majority of installs are mysql/postgres, apache, rails, tomcat, etc etc which you pretty much just need a well supported, solid, current base distribution for. Which Ubuntu excels at being.

Really it's just a Debian that's more up to date. Easier to install, more likely to have the driver support you need, not quite as rock solid reliable as Debian stable, but good enough. It also helps that it has a good desktop install, since people get familiar with it there first.

I'd say that meets 95% of the Linux server needs out there and it's why Ubuntu is being seen on the server side more and more.

Re:Really (4, Informative)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570607)

Quoting bullshit figures is not an alternative to having an argument. 99.999% is a made up number. When the kernel that ships with the product has flaws with the configuration that is being used, for whatever reason, the vendor should try to do their best to fix the situation.

When I was administering a Novell/SUSE network, and we had issues where SAMBA would drop kerberos tickets in our environment, Novell provided us with a custom package for SAMBA to fix the errors.

In another situation on RHEL, Red Hat provided patches for OUR company to fix issues we had with Red Hat Cluster.

Just because you have never hit on interoperability or configuration issues that make and break business does not mean it is not important. Just because you think having an instance of Apache running, without load balancing application routers doesn't mean that is how the enterprise world works. There are a LOT of Oracle App and DB servers on Linux. RAC is very popular as is Oracle 9i and 10g database. Being ignorant does not make you right.

Hands Down (3, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569871)

Hands down?

I'm curious to find one single major advantage Ubuntu has over Red Hat, CentOS, SLES, or openSUSE in an enterprise environment.

Re:Hands Down (4, Funny)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569925)

Brown. It is full of brown. What can brown do for you?

Re:Hands Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570125)

And so my fellow Anonymous Cowards, ask not what brown can do for you - ask what you can do for brown.

Re:Hands Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570345)

I see you're keeping up with British politics then...

Re:Hands Down (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570299)

It doesn't use RPM.

Re:Hands Down (1)

asdir (1195869) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570349)

Same as Windows: Workers (might) know it from their private environment.

As unimportant that might seem to the average slashdot techwiz, this is a reason that counts to many. I am even betting this (and the allure to developers) is the reason that Ubuntu promotes its desktop version although it will not turn profitable even according to Mark Shuttleworth himself.

Re:Hands Down (1, Troll)

wytcld (179112) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570421)

A single major advantage: It's Debian-based, but more current, better honed. I haven't run SUSE, but deb package management is far better than Red Hat's rpm, and that can be a huge advantage.

A disadvantage: There are some Debian-specific errors that Ubuntu has inherited. The installation routine for the server version, for instance, uses its own partitioner rather than one of the standard *fdisk variants. That partitioner doesn't write partitions on the cylinder boundaries with certain HP raid controllers, despite that HP certifies servers with them for Debian, and Debian and Ubuntu both list those servers as suitable. The result isn't obvious until your partitions go bye-bye when a write expects the partition boundary not to come before the cylinder boundary.

And then there was the OpenSSL bug where a Debian maintainer removed the randomizer. So there are weaknesses in Debian, but do they compare with rpm hell, or with the many adventures with Red Hat's aggressive patching of its kernels? If you're running Red Hat and compile your own generic kernels, that's not a problem. With Red Hat you really should. With Ubuntu I haven't yet had a problem running their kernel versions.

Re:Hands Down (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570541)

openSUSE 11's package management has seen a major face-lift. It solves dependencies better, packages are smaller, and it is faster. I've been installing openSUSE 11 left and right for people, and use it myself on multiple boxes. I haven't come across and dependency hell once with it.

It is at the very least on par with Ubuntu's package management, if not better.

I have had a major issue with Ubuntu and kernels, both at home, and at work. At work we couldn't get Ubuntu to recognize the nics in some blades, despite most other distros recognizing them. At home is a rant for another day.

Re:Hands Down (5, Insightful)

Nevyn (5505) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570765)

A single major advantage: It's Debian-based, but more current, better honed

"more current" in relation to Debian stable, maybe. In relation to the competition it is always subjective, given that RHEL/CentOS have 7+ year support lifetimes. I don't think anyone has done a "newness" and "correctness" metric for LTS vs. RHEL ... my guess is that they are about equal at GA.

but deb package management is far better than Red Hat's rpm, and that can be a huge advantage.

This is hard to qualify statement, rpm is a super set of dpkg and it's hard to argue that yum is anything but a superset of apt-get (in terms of features, UI and speed). You could probably argue that Debian packaging is stricter than Fedora/RHEL/EPEL, mostly due to the above (which also means it's harder on the packager, but somewhat easier on the tools). Maybe you just mean that Debian/Ubuntu "offically support" apt-get dist-upgrade, whereas Fedora/RHEL/CentOS don't, yet, for various reasons ... which while valid is much less so in a real company setting, IMO.

So there are weaknesses in Debian, but do they compare with rpm hell,

I can only assume that you haven't used rpm/yum recently ... or that you have seen cases where bad external packages are imported into rpm case but not in the dpkg case (as the resulting dpkg hell is often much worse).

or with the many adventures with Red Hat's aggressive patching of its kernels? If you're running Red Hat and compile your own generic kernels, that's not a problem. With Red Hat you really should. With Ubuntu I haven't yet had a problem running their kernel versions.

I can only assume this is some kind of weird joke, or maybe you are trolling. Ubuntu is infamous for kludging their kernels and not working upstream ... and personally if you are not running the distro. kernel on RHEL then you might as well set fire to your money instead.

Re:Hands Down (5, Insightful)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570857)

I don't want to start an argument, but

Have you tried Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS lately?

Package Management through Yum, or the Package Manager is easy to use, works fine and is much easier than loading individual packages through Rpm and divining dependencies on your own.

I assume you problems with Rpm are with the package installation program and not the file format itself.

The weirdest problem I have had lately was uninstalling Samba ripped Nautilus off a system, and my Desktop icons disappeared. Reinstalling Nautilus fixed the problem, and also re-loaded some tiny piece of Samba it thinks it needs.

Re:Really (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569959)

The thing is, though: Will these small companies pay enough for support to enable Canonical to continue to employ the same number of full-time staff ? Or is it the case that smaller companies will employ a full-time sysadmin who relies on Ubuntu forums to fix his problems ?

Re:Really (4, Insightful)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570145)

Forums and help communities are great for testing beds or for non critical-path errors. If I need configuration help but don't want to waste time on a phone call for something trivial, I can post to a forum for help, and do get it. However, what would you tell your boss when your main DB server is tossing out errors and refusing connections, but you don't have paid support?

"Hey, don't worry. I posted at 9AM. In a few hours, somebody will respond with something that may fix the problem" doesn't seem to cut it in that scenario

Re:Really (3, Insightful)

schklerg (1130369) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570393)

At my company (not that huge), our preference from the Admin side was Debian on Linux servers (apt dependency handling/updating beats rpm hands down to me) but we were forced to Novell or Red Hat so there would be someone to call & blame if there was issues. Ubuntu was brand new when this decision was made and so not really considered from the VPs. So for production systems its RHEL, for our admin stuff (not considered 'mission critical') it's Debian, and I run Ubuntu on my laptop.

Linux is for suckers (-1, Flamebait)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569889)

It's really too bad that Linux follows an open source model that is unable to make the operating system self-sustainable. Basement development can only go so far, it seems. To go beyond that, Linux must rely on the good will of sucker millionaires.

Once in a while, someone turns a buck by using the old take but don't give back approach.

Linux is nice but I recommend keeping it far away from any bank account. It's a black hole for money...

Re:Linux is for suckers (5, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570201)

Linux is nice but I recommend keeping it far away from any bank account. It's a black hole for money...

I'd agree with you if you weren't a) an idiot and b) wrong.

You've totally missed the point of the open source model. Linux doesn't *need* a profitable parent company. Projects like PostgreSQL, FreeBSD, the Linux kernel itself and others prove that companies are not needed in order to create excellent software. Debian existed long before Ubuntu, and will live long after it, should Ubuntu die. If Ubuntu dies, you can be damn sure a community will spring up to take the slack up now that demand for an apt based distro that isn't 3 years behind has been proven and an appetite created.

As for the impossibility of Linux profitability, Red Hat's financial statements [google.com] show a consistent, increasing profit, quarter over quarter, for the last 2 years. Go troll elsewhere please.

Re:Really (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570723)

To be honest, I don't see where the .rpm vs .deb argument comes into play in the server world. Yes, it makes sense on desktops when you're constantly upgrading software, installing drivers for external devices, etc. Doesn't happen quite as much on servers - all you need is a periodic upgrade to some pretty limited software once every few months.

Furthers my belief that RPM-based distros are for the server and Debian-based distros (while they can do both) are better for the desktop.

So... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25569711)

When is the Nappy Nigger release scheduled to be out? When BHO takes the "White" House?

Re:So... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570101)

Oh come on Mr. GNAA, you can do better than that. Jumpy Jigaboo? It even involves the next one up alphabetically.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570861)

He's just upset because his buddies got caught trying to kill Obama. He'll skip J-J and go right for Krazy Klansman.

The server version? (5, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569725)

He did say, however, that if they concentrated on the server edition of Ubuntu that they could be profitable in two years.

The server version, otherwise known as Debian.

Hasn't this gone full circle? The Debian release cycle is too long and uncertain so out comes Ubuntu. Ubuntu takes from unstable, fixes some bugs, adds some polish and makes a decent desktop OS. Now Ubuntu wants to concentrate on the server which is exactly what Debian stable is for? Please. Canonical would be better served by just supporting Debian.

Re:The server version? (2, Interesting)

jcookeman (843136) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569797)

I doubt that will pay their bills though. No?

Re:The server version? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570709)

You're serious?

Canonical doesn't make money off of giving away Ubuntu. They make money off supporting it, just like every other major Linux vendor in the universe.

So you can either hire enough people to create an OS and support it or hire enough people to support someone else's OS, where they bear the costs of creating it.

You tell me which sounds cheaper.

Re:The server version? (5, Interesting)

dsginter (104154) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570087)

Hasn't this gone full circle?

No - the predominant attitude in the industry is "if you don't like it, then fork it" - so they did. Why did they do it? I think that you answered it yourself with the very next sentence:

The Debian release cycle is too long and uncertain so out comes Ubuntu.

When you see how the mirrors are getting slammed right now (8.10 is on most of them), you simply must realize that Ubuntu has stolen most of the mindshare aware from Debian. Is that not good?

Re:The server version? (1)

Legion_SB (1300215) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570315)

When you see how the mirrors are getting slammed right now (8.10 is on most of them), you simply must realize that Ubuntu has stolen most of the mindshare aware from Debian. Is that not good?

Given how dependent Ubuntu is on Debian packages, what happens if everyone abandons Debian? Will that development for certain resume on the Ubuntu side of the line?

Re:The server version? (4, Interesting)

rzei (622725) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570495)

I think that you answered it yourself with the very next sentence:

The Debian release cycle is too long and uncertain so out comes Ubuntu.

I totally agree. Debian is great, but as they don't have as good release cycle as Ubuntu, there are quite many packages which are way beyond usable as those cannot be upgraded in a stable Debian.

Of course it's a matter of stability also, but a release cycle would eventually do only good for Debian also. Just think what would happen if Debian and Ubuntu Server could unite at one point.. Not knowing the specifics, but I guess many debian devs/maintainers already receive paychecks from Canonical.

Debian has great number of great maintainers, and have set the bar on package management to a whole another level for everyone in the operating system field.

Ubuntu in the other end has revolutionalized the desktop, essentially by adding "listening users needs" and "release cycle" to already good Debian recipe.

For support, Debian based (server) system is something I could consider buying that. As long as they can handle cost being accessible to ISV's.

Re:The server version? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570601)

How many server admins are using a non-LTS version of Ubuntu because the Debian release cycle is too unpredictable? You only get 18 months of support for those. Debian stable will always give you more than that.

It's my opinion that Ubuntu is not "server-grade" software. Debian stable is. However, the efficacy of Ubuntu isn't the point at hand.

Re:The server version? (1)

devman (1163205) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570225)

Ubuntu doesn't put the same restrictions, with regards to licensing, on what goes in the distro that Debian does.

A Hypothetical is NOT a Fact (3, Insightful)

blazerw11 (68928) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570253)

Now Ubuntu wants to concentrate on the server

No, they don't want to concentrate on the server.
From the summary (emphasis mine):

if they concentrated on the server edition of Ubuntu that they could be profitable in two years.

A hypothetical does not a fact make.

Re:The server version? (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570271)

This is a great idea. Supporting Debian will give them the support revenue, and eliminate all the development costs associated with maintaining their own derivative distro. They'd also be strengthening the Debian community, which is the underlying reason Ubuntu can exist in the first place. Ubuntu hasn't the resources to duplicate even a fraction of Debian's activity, so they serve both themselves better and the Debian community by simply supporting Debian stable and, if they *really* want, maintaining a custom patch set for whatever changes they may want (different process scheduler or whatnot).

I never understood why they needed or even wanted to create their own server distro when Debian stable is a rock solid, well known, highly regarded distro that they could profit from by supporting the existing users rather than trying to create a server user community of their own by convincing sysadmins (who are very hard to change by the way) to use their own, new, shiny distro that is untested and unproven, especially when compared to the likes of Debian stable.

Dumb move from Canonical, IMHO, and it smacks of the NIH (not invented here) mindset.

Re:The server version? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570433)

As you said, debian stable has a history of totally unpredictable release cycles and what? Six month of legacy security support once a new version has come out? A Year?

While that may be sufficient for some server tasks, calling stable a good general purpose server OS would in my opinion be a bit too enthusiastic.

Other distributions do have deficiencies in package management or in the size of their supported software repositories. Debian has a quite low number of major bugs remaining in their releases when they ship. Upgrades that (mostly) work. That is all well.

But IMHO for a Good Server OS [TM], you have to give your users timetables they can depend on.

Commercial unix distributors do this actually better than Red Hat and SuSE do right now. Things like 10 Year support cycles come to mind here.

If Canonical could do more in this direction than the odd LTS, I for one would like to welcome them.

Re:The server version? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570491)

Hasn't this gone full circle? The Debian release cycle is too long and uncertain so out comes Ubuntu.

And isn't it still? The last three took 23, 35 and 22 months respectively and now we're at 18 and counting. If you're waiting for any functionality to be in the next stable, you never really know when it'll be. Every time they estimate 18 and slip by many months without any real timeline for others to plan with, it's done when it's done. In a pinch you could run a non-LTS release of Ubuntu or try a little crossbreed with LTS and "normal" supported packages. I really don't see testing as any serious option as I've experienced breakage with that which I don't think would be acceptable even on the corporate desktop, far less the business critical server. If you really have the luxury of not using any features made in the last two years then by all means choose Debian. If someone asked if we could run more current versions, I'd jump ship to Ubuntu. And if you've done that once and the next LTS is good, you're probably not coming back...

So, er..... (1)

byolinux (535260) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569727)

3 years - 2 years = not a problem.

But er.. yeah.

server edition of Ubuntu (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569767)

Debian?

Server edition of Ubuntu != Debian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570339)

A couple of people on this list have jumped to the conclusion that the "server version" of Ubuntu is Debian. I'm not sure where that comes from...Debian can be used on the desktop or the server (I'm using it for both), and Ubuntu can be used on both, as well.

By "server version", I'm guessing Mark is talking backoffice functionality: for example, beefing up the ability to connect to NAS or SAN devices, remote management, etc.

Re:server edition of Ubuntu (1)

ja (14684) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570465)

Debian (stable) is occasionally so out of touch it won't even boot on contemporary Intel hardware. So no!

Great... (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569775)

...give Linus more ammo to complain about desktop Linux. :p

Linux desktop has never been profitable (2, Insightful)

Boriel (1396959) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569791)

To me Linux has never been profitable in the Desktop-User side, but in the Servers Side. How can one make profit in the desktop world? Free software is mostly based on services not software license selling and it's not only libre but gratis (free as beer).

Linux (Ubuntu) has become really easy to use, and Linux users are mostly advanced users which can take care of themselves rather than paying for support, of for another service. And nowadays, most services are platform independent, IMHO.

Re:Linux desktop has never been profitable (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569913)

Sure guys like Novell offer SLED, but I haven't seen a company aggressively pursue the enterprise desktop market. With the flop that is Vista, now is the time.

Re:Linux desktop has never been profitable (4, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570395)

To me Linux has never been profitable in the Desktop-User side, but in the Servers Side.
How can one make profit in the desktop world? Free software is mostly based on services not software license selling and it's not only libre but gratis (free as beer).

You're focused on the wrong thing. It doesn't matter if it's "desktop" or "server". What matters is who is doing the buying. Consumers / end users don't spend the big money on services. Enterprises do. And so what you want to do is provide a product that meets needs of the Enterprise. If enterprise customers want desktop Linux support, then that's a nice market to be in. The reality is that such a market is still very limited and niche. But enterprise customers are doing plenty of Linux deployments in the datacenter. That market is sizable and growing. That's where the money is.

Re:Linux desktop has never been profitable (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570669)

Now hold on right there billy joe!

When you say

...Linux users are mostly advanced users which can take care of themselves rather than paying for support...

it gets right up my craw, and I'll tell you why. To demonstrate, lets rewrite that line:

Windows users are mostly computer-ignorant users which try to take care of their own stuff rather than paying for support.

Yes, it does sound a bit ridiculous, but Ubuntu is aimed at replacing the Windows desktop environment, and thus aiming at being the OS used by computer-ignorant users, NOT sysadmins and technically savvy Linux users. When the Linux ball gets rolling a bit more, Ubuntu and Canonical can move into the support space where RedHat and Suse have not been able to go. So, you can look forward to RedHat in the data center under support contract and Ubuntu on the desktop under support contract.

IMO, I think it's very savvy to not aim at other Distro's strong points and instead concentrate on the areas where they are weakest. Setting up a burger stand between a McDonalds and a Wendy's is probably not a good business plan.

Remember, the idea is to sell the idea of Ubuntu Linux to people who are NOT advanced users, people who need all the help they can get but usually don't pay for it. With any kind of luck, this will shortly present itself as a business opportunity for those ready to accept the challenge.

... and bless him (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569833)

Mr. Shuttleworth is truly praise-"worthy" (forgive the pun) because he's willing to put his money where his mouth is, and pay out of pocket to support his principles.

In the end, nothing is actually "free". While people can and do put in their time, without expecting to be compensated for their work on the various Linux distributions, or other open-source software, they do so because they have other jobs that support them financially. As the Linux desktop market expands, there will be a need for even more people to dedicate even more time to maintaining and perfecting the codebase... and this will require a positive cash flow into the industry. One way or the other we (the consumers of these wonderful products) are going to have to pay... and we shouldn't be apprehensive about it. I have no problem with paying let's say $50/year for Ubuntu, because it has worked great for me.

Re:... and bless him (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569975)

One way or the other we (the consumers of these wonderful products) are going to have to pay... and we shouldn't be apprehensive about it. I have no problem with paying let's say $50/year for Ubuntu, because it has worked great for me.

And here you go:
http://www.ubuntu.com/community/donations [ubuntu.com]

Personally, for myself, I would think with every release, $20 is warranted... Microsoft would love to fleece me of much more for the amount of computers I put it on.

Re:... and bless him (2)

olden (772043) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570193)

Amen to that. I gladly donate for every OpenBSD release, because this OS works great for me as bastion host, router etc.
Surely I can (and will) do the same for my desktop OS; their developers/maintainers deserve more than just credit after all.

Re:... and bless him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570713)

Thanks for the link, just donated $50.

Although I only use Ubuntu rarely as a dual boot on my laptop (my 300mbit wifi doesn't work) they're doing an excellent job and should be rewarded.
I dont know if Ubuntu will end up the dominant desktop flavour of Linux or something else will (I just hope its not google linux), anything that helps people realize there is a better alternative (in most cases) than Vista and MS in general is a good thing.

I decided earlier this year that I would no longer support Windows. Most of the people I know come to me when their PC needs fixing/upgrading/cleaning. I've told everyone I'll no longer help with anything Windows related but I will install Ubuntu (or another flavour of linux if they want) set it up and get everything working as much and as often as they need. None of the people I've installed Ubuntu for have complained, most prefer the speed and that they dont have to worry about viruses/spyware as much now.

Re:... and bless him (1)

lytles (24756) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570483)

i'll second this

i've been using ubuntu for the last several years on both my laptop and my workstation and love it - the ease of use is great, the development tools are pretty up-to-date, and things just work. my parents (computer illiterate, dialup) are running it as well, and when i go to visit, the box is usually up to date and working fine - can't remember the last time i really had to do something to it.

every time i find myself on a suse or fedora box i cringe - things are always out of date. i haven't tried SLES since zypper dropped (partially because upgrading was going to be a nightmare :), and i haven't tried to admin my own fedora box in a while. but those distributions being out of date is a reflection of how hard it has been to admin those non-canonical boxes. things may have improved over the last year, and suse and/or fedora may catch up eventually, but ubuntu was way ahead of the curve and has a proven track record at this point.

so here's to hoping that canonical can find a business model that works. a subscription fee (though i'd hope way less that the $50/year mentioned above) might work. or pay to prioritize maintenance of a particular package or bug. or the enterprise management stuff they've been pushing. or ...

whatever it takes to make linux user-friendly. because if canonical shuts down, my admin responsibilities become way harder :)

Re:... and bless him (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570663)

Let's assume that Canonical needs 100 full-time staff to maintain Ubuntu (though I suspect the number is much higher). At an average salary of, say, $75'000/year, that's $7.5 million/year for salary alone. If there are 100 thousand Ubuntu users in the US, who would pay the subscription fee, then $50/year would only cover 2/3 of salary costs... much rather anything else.

I don't think it's that much. Could even spread it at $25/release. Surely that cannot be too much for a great desktop OS.

Re:... and bless him (1)

rzei (622725) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570677)

While making any Ubuntu non-free doesn't sound so good, Canonical could start giving people some reasons to throw money at them..

Someone already mentioned some value adding services (like Apple does .Mac etc.) but how about throwing money at a bug?

Users could throw 1-20€, companies even more if they don't want to pay for a subscription.

This could work like first defining a bug, it gets confirmations, dev sees it, and it doesn't seem like too interesting to tackle with. People start throwing money at it until someone fixes it. All this could be open, and the one who posts the patch would get money and canonical could keep the some percentage of it. Or if their dev's fix it before everyone else, it's another PR stunt, more trust in the system, and cash to pay for a dev's day at canonical.

The real interesting part to me... (1)

VoxMagis (1036530) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569883)

Is that he is willing to keep bankrolling it for now. I give him credit, whether Ubuntu makes it or not, for that.

Doesn't surprise me (4, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569893)

Desktop users are not the ones likely to need to purchase support contracts, aside from business environments. Every business that I've worked for that has used Linux has used Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation for that very reason. Canonical's big problem here is that they have taken over a market where the majority of sales come from people buying off-the-shelf licenses or through OEM sales. the only way that they could get around that would be to charge say... $20/copy of Ubuntu to Dell, Asus, etc. to provide support for their netbook users.

Year of the Linux desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25569903)

If they concentrate on server, we can see 2008 will mark the year of the linux desktop.

Not cash flow positive?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25569921)

Noooooooooo! Say it ain't so, Joe!

Slack vs Ubuntu (3, Interesting)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#25569943)

Here at the University, our department has a few clusters and a few standalone processing machines with a bit of disk attached. We were using ROCKS on the clusters and Slackware on the standalones, but then ROCKS went south in terms of hardware recognition, installation ease, and reconfiguration ease (so says my cluster admin). Now we use Slackware on everything.

However, when I asked him if he would like to try to use something with dependency checking, he suggested, not Debian, but Ubuntu...as he felt the server version of Ubuntu was essentially Debian anyway. Ubuntu's nice, but for us it all comes down to how easy it is to change, install our non-standard apps, and how often it requires updates.

Thoughts from the /. community?

Re:Slack vs Ubuntu (2, Informative)

GauteL (29207) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570131)

"how often it requires updates"

I am uncertain what you mean. No Linux distribution 'requires' updates, although you are certainly encouraged to update them from a security (and stability) point of view.

If you on the other hand mean operating system upgrades, then the Long Term Support releases from Ubuntu which comes out once a year are supported with security and stability fixes for three years (same time scale as Debian I think). This may be slightly too short for you, in case you might want to consider for instance Red Hat Enterprise Linux, who have 7 year support cycles.

Neither Ubuntu or RHEL will stop working after the support cycle is over, although no more security updates will be released by Canonical or Red Hat Inc.

I have no idea how long security updates are released for Slackware.

Re:Slack vs Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570539)

Server edition LTS support is 5 years. And LTS versions generally appear biannually.

Re:Slack vs Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570137)

Ubuntu server is cute but it's not anywhere near as stable or reliable as Debain Stable. Why you would go with a less stable OS for a cluster encironemnt is beyond me.

Re:Slack vs Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570269)

Thoughts from the /. community?

The community wants a pony.

Re:Slack vs Ubuntu (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570373)

Anything is easier to change than Slackware; package managers and dependency checkers will make your life astoundingly easier.

Of course, in a University environment it's not a bad thing to have to do everything from scratch, but I think it's more valuable to learn to create your own packages, etc, than to learn to manage everything from source/binaries.

That being said, the biggest difference is likely in how "bleeding edge" the software is. Ubuntu will (necessarily) be more up to date, but that's not always a good thing.

Focus on one more.... (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570083)

Give me a Commercial version that is a bit more polished and has the important stuff already installed and ready instead of me having to go and run the installers to get everything ready. also get a "remote help" system in place so aunt millie can press "help me" and type in my email address and then I can easily help her with it, or she can call you and get paid support.

Honestly, Ubuntu is ALMOST there. if it takes a pay for version for me to point the Friends and family at then so be it.

Re:Focus on one more.... (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570273)

Yes, a reasonably-priced paid version with email support, multimedia codecs and dvd playing would be nice.

...of course, "reasonably-priced" is a nebulous term, so maybe we should start a donations rally instead.

Re:Focus on one more.... (2, Interesting)

cabjf (710106) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570457)

This makes sense. Usability and polish issues aside, the biggest things holding Linux back are a consistent face behind the Operating System and perceived value. Canonical standing behind Ubuntu solves the first (note this is about desktop versions, not server). Releasing an ultra-polished pay for version would solve the second. The general public will not use something that is free because the perceived value is so low; "They're giving it away, it must not be that good."

Options for revenue (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570115)

There are ways canonical could try to raise revenue. One is by selling versions to desktop users with technical support or extras like a user guide. It could also sell t-shirts, mugs and other such things to bring in more revenue. It could even sell third party Linux books.

Re:Options for revenue (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570247)

I know this option won't be popular due to the potential for how it could go completely wrong... however, they could sell app or ad space. I think that as long as Canonical is selective and restrictive about how far it goes, and as long as the users can uninstall / remove whatever apps or ads are included in the default then it could be a powerful revenue stream and I think most users would be ok with it, knowing that it's what's keeping it free and that if it annoys them they can remove it.

Heck, even ads that are shown only during the install might work. Or making Firefox's default home page an ad page that can be changed etc.

Canonical should consider pay-services (4, Interesting)

GauteL (29207) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570203)

... for users.

I'm thinking easy on line storage integrated with OS and applications. Similarly they could offer backup space, email accounts, web space, picture storage and sharing,, Jabber service, OpenID, etc.

Think ".Mac/MobileMe" style services.

I would certainly be willing to pay a reasonable subscription fee for a nicely integrated service.

Re:Canonical should consider pay-services (1)

asdir (1195869) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570497)

Someone must have thought of that before. Seriously, why don't they do that? It would be just great: The OS for free and if you don't wanna pay for services, just don't use them.

Re:Canonical should consider pay-services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570701)

Et tu, Cloud-us?

Open Source Funding (4, Interesting)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570331)

This raises an interesting point that I'd like to see /.ers discuss:

Without the charity of well-to-do geeks or companies that fund open source development from profitable product lines, can Open Source succeed at the enterprise level?

This thread is a good example of the first case. Sun/Open Office, the Google/Mozilla "relationship", IBM, et al./Eclipse are examples of the second as is the general practice of different companies employing Linus, Guido and a few other key people to keep Linux/Python/etc going.

Without the strong investment from those with deep pockets, can Open Source software progress at the rate needed to remain viable in the enterprise? What happens when the product lines funding those projects start losing money?

If you respond with counter-examples, make sure you do a proper accounting of who is really doing the development work on the project. Is it people in their spare time or is it paid workers being funded by the revenues from other projects? And, of course, focus on Open Source software that is being pushed and is _viable_ for enterprise use - hobbiest level software and boutique libraries will always have volunteers available.

-Chris

Re:Open Source Funding (2, Insightful)

cyxxon (773198) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570689)

I think you are missing the point here. With the GPL kind of open source software, there will always be a company who sees they can profit or at least not spend as much if they simply take available open source offerings and continue developing them instead of forking over some pile of cash to another company. In reality this is also what happened to the examples you mentioned, in a way - these companies did not suddenly create a new OSS product out of thin air, but started participating, bought other companies, employed developers etc. So while the basic idea of your thought has merit, in reality the situation will probably never really comeup where suddenly no company is behind the big OSS projects anymore...

Re:Open Source Funding (1)

semateos (990275) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570693)

I thought the idea behind Canonical was to a become a "foundation" for Linux development - take your billion dollars, invest it, use the dividends to fund linux developers and thus better the world. That would obviously require a market that didn't suck, but over a long enough period of time you'd think it would work out (end of the world theories aside). Aren't there lots of non-profit foundations that work that way?

Here comes the cries for taxes (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570715)

You know what's going to happen, is that Open Source advocates are going to argue for public funding of open source projects because they can't make money giving something away for free, and there's never going to be enough donations or volunteers to pay the people you need to pay. It's going to be like public radio, all over again. They are too good to charge for ads, make billions of dollars merchandising Sesame Street, take corporate money anyway, and still run ads of a sort, and yet STILL look for public money and will probably look for a lot more once the Dems get in.

I imagine that, while Windows may stop because of WGA, Linux will periodically halt and start playing entertaining videos about all the buffoons that write it, as part of an NPR like Linux beggars night. Donate to Linux, and get a stack of 2nd tier magazines and a handy tote bag!

Donate $10/release (1)

wtfispcloadletter (1303253) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570753)

Even the poorest of the poor who have a computer can afford $10 per release or at least per year. If you truly cannot afford that little amount, then do $5 or if you're really on hard times, then so long as everyone else donates something, they're helping out.

Those a-holes that dozens of free Ubuntu CDs and hand them out without donating a dime piss me off. In the long run it might help as it gets Ubuntu into the hands of the people, but most of those people won't realize that they can or, IMO, should, donate to the project.

If everyone who used Ubuntu donated just a little bit and institutions who install Ubuntu across their entire school or company paid just $10 per install per release they'd really be helping out. Either that or came up with what they thought was a fair number. Instead of $7,000 for 700 seats, maybe just $1000 for 700 seats. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than Microsoft or Apple.

If you can give more and want to, then do so. I give to Ubuntu, OpenOffice and Gimp for each release and donate time supporting other projects.

It might also help Ubuntu and other projects to become non-profit (501c3 in the US) as then donations would be tax deductible. Of course there's other overhead (administrative and monetary) associated with that and you have to way the pros and cons of doing so.

Donate (1)

zbharucha (1331473) | more than 4 years ago | (#25570791)

I am a huge fan of OSS. I have been using open-source stuff for some three years now and I think it's time I gave something back. To this effect, I have decided to donate a modest sum (modest by student standards) to the following outfits (one every month): *Ubuntu (for showing me a world outside Winduhs) *Gnome (ease of use) *Inkscape (how would I ever make diagrams without this?) *Kile (easy to use LaTeX editor) *Amarok (not just music) *other (this list will certainly be expanded) Show your appreciation by donating!

WWOT!? FP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#25570869)

only way to go: juugernaut either
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