Will the latest Ubuntu distro finally provide a mainstream Windows alternative?

It remains to be seen if any tier one OEMs will give Ubuntu (or any other distro, for that matter) the boost it needs to promote widespread adoption.

Long hampered by driver issues (especially surrounding wireless networking), Linux has failed to take off in mainstream markets.  Ubuntu (and its Kubuntu and Edubuntu brethren) have had more success than most owing to their easy installs and smart interfaces.  April 19th marks the release date for the latest and greatest Ubuntu, version 7.04.  According to ubuntu.com,

"Ubuntu 7.04 desktop edition includes a ground-breaking Windows migration assistant, excellent wireless networking support and improved multimedia support.

Ubuntu 7.04 server edition adds support for hardware facilities that speed up the use of virtual machines as well as other improved hardware support, making it an excellent choice as a web, database, file and print server, the fastest growing area of Linux server use. Ubuntu's already outstanding support for thin clients is boosted with advanced print and sound support."

It remains to be seen if any tier one OEMs will give Ubuntu (or any other distro, for that matter) the boost it needs to promote widespread adoption.  However, with XP support going away in early 2008, now is the time for schools to begin planning for OS migrations (if this hasn't already begun).  While early experiences with Vista have been largely positive, if Ubuntu can deliver on its promises of effortlessness, and adequate educational software can continue to be ported to Linux, then it may become a much more viable alternative for those outside the current, relatively small band of Linux devotees.  I already have a spare partition on my laptop ready to check out those built-in wireless drivers.

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