Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

Summary: Ubuntu isn't going to displace Windows anytime soon. But it just keeps getting better. Schools owe it to their budgets and users to at least give it a look.

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The next version of Ubuntu is coming soon The easy answer here is "of course!" But it's a little tougher now that we aren't comparing Ubuntu to Windows Vista.

As many schools have begun rolling out Windows 7, an operating system that I actually like quite a bit and that has considerable traction just about everywhere, the arguments against Windows 7 began coming down to only cost and the occasional religious debate. Add in Windows Multipoint Server, easy remote desktop/multiuser environments enabled in Windows Server 2008, and a variety of multiuser and VDI scenarios from third parties that leverage Microsoft technologies and you have some pretty compelling arguments in favor of Microsoft operating systems in schools.

But then there's Ubuntu. There are plenty of other Linux distributions with the whole FREE thing going for them, but Ubuntu is fast, powerful, easy, flexible, and particularly well-suited to education. And the release candidate for the latest versions of Ubuntu and Edubuntu (their education-centered version of Ubuntu) is just plain awesome. Unless you're 100% wedded (for either religious or technical reasons) to Windows or OS X, it's hard not to like Ubuntu//Edubuntu with their huge array of free software, snappy performance, elegant interface, fast installations, and ultra-fast boot times.

As if that weren't enough, there's a robust server version, a newly-redesigned netbook/tablet-optimized interface, 32- and 64-bit support, and the chance to support a great community-driven, quintessential 21st-century project. Whether you need a web server, an LDAP server, a snappy interface for those netbooks running Windows XP Home, or a desktop upgrade from Windows XP without the price of Windows 7, Ubuntu can provide not only a viable alternative, but a really competitive OS.

With this release, Edubuntu also more carefully integrates the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP). This turns your Edubuntu PC into a multi-user environment that scales to classroom levels easily and is available on install. The Edubuntu install, by the way, is now fully graphical and, as with all of the *buntu installs, collects user information at the same time as it copies files and does other background installation tasks, making the whole process very speedy, even on single-processor machines (I tested on single and dual-core virtual machines with 1 and 2 gigabytes of RAM respectively).

And besides, the release data is 10-10-10. In binary, that's 42, an homage to Douglas Adams. For that reason alone it's worth a look.

Ubuntu is not for everyone, nor is it perfect. Without using LTSP, it is difficult to create role-based policies and Deep Freeze-style lab lockdowns. However, similar technologies do exist within Edubuntu/Ubuntu, even if they aren't as mature as their Windows brethren. More importantly, though, as a desktop OS, Ubuntu excels in everything from price to ease of use to ease of installation. As a server OS, Ubuntu has a well-deserved reputation for stability and reliability and, again, the price is certainly right.

The year is still young and you're bound to have some intrepid students or teachers who are tired of their XP or Vista desktops. Or maybe you've been thinking about rolling out a new web server. Your budget administrator will thank you for at least giving Ubuntu a look. It's better than ever, with 10.10 introducing important evolutionary features, performance enhancements, and bug fixes.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Open Source, Software, Windows

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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160 comments
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  • Until Canonical come with preloaded Ubuntu PC

    It will be extraordinary hard for Ubuntu to get significant market share in the PC market. I don't understand why it is so hard for you guys to get it.
    The main problem of Linux is that there are not enough offering of PC preloaded with a distribution such as Ubuntu.
    This is why, it is great that Canonical is building partnership with some asian manufacturers in order to offer PC preloaded with Ubuntu.
    timiteh
    • Dell Studio XPS 7100 Desktop preloaded with Ubuntu

      @timiteh <br><br>Read up:<br><a http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&l=en&cs=19/us/p/studio-xps-7100/pd?refid=studio-xps-7100&~oid=us~en~29~linux_3~~</a>
      Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • Funny dude...

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Blowtard
        As soon as I click the Select button on the page, it takes me to the configurator. The 2nd option on which is the OS you want.

        Surprise, surprise. There are only 3 options.

        Windows 7 Home Premium (default)
        Windows 7 Professional
        Windows 7 Ultimate

        No Linux...

        In fact, the page you linked us to - while it has the word 'Linux' embedded in the URL - there's not one mention of Linux nor Ubuntu ANYWHERE on the page. If anything there are several mentions of Windows 7.

        Epic [b]FAIL[/b] on your part. For not checking before posting the link if nothing else.

        Now.. You MAY be able to get Ubuntu on it if you call 'em up and beg - but it's not a default on ANY of the systems you linked nor even an option.
        Wolfie2K3
        • No, you are funny. Clever with the EPIC fail banter

          @Wolfie2K3
          It's the n-series that sports Ubuntu preload.

          http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&l=en&cs=19
          Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate <br><br>This might be a handier link: <a href="http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&l=en&cs=19" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&l=en&cs=19</a><br><br>All I see on the regular page is offerings for three versions of Windows7 and a reviewer who was not happy with the Ubuntu duel boot.
        Bill4
        • I've corrected the link

          @Bill4

          The n-series comes preloaded with Ubuntu Linux
          http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&l=en&cs=19
          Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
        In all fairness, the guy said there aren't *enough* OEMs offering Ubuntu preloaded. You can't refute this argument with one example. In fact, you can't effectively rebut the argument with all the examples that do exist. You would need to prove that having a larger selection of systems won't increase Ubuntu adoption.

        I'm not saying he's right or wrong, just that logical debate eludes you.
        ericesque
        • His last sentence

          @ericesque

          "This is why, it is great that Canonical is building partnership with some asian manufacturers in order to offer PC preloaded with Ubuntu. "

          The times they are a changin'.
          Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
        Page not found... What were you smoking when you "saw" that.
        rparker009
      • The average user is not goign to buy a Linux PC ...

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate ... sight-unseen. <br><br>Until the consumer can walk-into Wal-Mart (or their favorite electronics retailer) and see two, otherwise identical, systems running Windows and Linux at a competitive price, the consumer WILL NOT take a chance on Linux. <br><br>Also, not that that Dell will not let you choose between Linux and Windows on the same system. And, if you want support on those Linux systems, you will pay a steep premium for them.
        M Wagner
      • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

        Del! na, no thanks. i'll Stay custom
        Ez_Customs
      • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

        the link works just fine however i didn't notice much in linux on your link
        Ez_Customs
      • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

        Not in the UK you can't. There are no ubuntu PCs available on the Dell website at all. Not one.
        sherbey
      • Dell dropped Linux in july already HAHHAHAHA

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

        Ah i see you didn't look at the previous link stating Dell has dropped linux per-installs. It was conveniently not reported anywhere here on zdnet

        http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/359740/dell-drops-ubuntu-pcs-from-website-for-now
        Stan57
      • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

        @stan57
        Funny thing happened when I looked at your link, I actually read the article.
        Maybe you should do the same "this is not a permanent decision, and Dell remains committed to offering Ubuntu."

        That's a direct quote.
        tmsbrdrs
    • Many options

      @timiteh If you are buying as an organisation, i.e. buying in the 100s you can get preloaded Linux on a wider range of products from Dell and from most of the OEMs. If you are buying as an end user, better try one of specialists who buy without an OS and preinstall for you (an Internet search will get you a lot of choices).
      putt1ck
    • For business/enterprise use that doesn't matter

      @timiteh When we get a new batch of systems in (usually from Dell) we take one of them, wipe it completely, then load Windows 7 Enterprise on it. Then we load up all the software our users need and get if fully configured before creating an image of it. The image is then loaded on the rest of the machines followed by sysprep, encrypt with bitlocker, and join the domain. So basically what I'm saying is that it really does not matter what came pre-loaded on the system because the first time it's turned on will be to load our image on it.

      We have chosen to use Windows 7, but we could just as easily have created an image with Ubuntu or some other Linux distro. The fact that it doesn't come pre-loaded does not influence our decision. By the way, the Enterprise Edition of Windows 7 that we need for the bitlocker encryption does not come pre-loaded either.
      cornpie
      • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

        @cornpie
        So basically you've paid for the pre-installed windows 7 home premium AND the windows 7 Enterprise you ended up with on each and every computer. Nice one.

        What is needed is an option to buy (available to ANYONE, not just enterprise buyers) a computer with no pre-installed OS. I am thoroughly sick of being told that windows came 'free' on whatever hardware I've purchased when I'm attempting to get a refund on the pre-installed windows that I've declined the EULA of. Even better would be an option for a version of linux pre-installed; it would be dead easy to configure a first time boot option to either install ubuntu for free or to install windows for whatever extra cost it might be.
        sherbey
  • RE: Is Ubuntu 10.10 yet another chance to ditch Windows?

    I've had problems with 10.1 so reluctant to try the "fixed" version. Has anyone had problems with it or is it just my ancient IBM Thinkpad P4 2.5 gig single processor & 512 mb RAM that's the hangup? Thoughts?
    bamyclouse
    • My 1.6GHz Centrino 1GB RAM ThinkPad works okay...

      @bamyclouse@...

      ...so possibly a hardware failure issue. Did you in-place upgrade from an older version? If so, you could try a clean install.

      Ubuntu should still run quite happily on that hardware, so could be a hardware failure or just a non-perfect upgrade (it does happen).

      I'd be interested to know your situation?!
      DevJonny