Ubuntu's "plateau" = Good news for education

Ubuntu's "plateau" = Good news for education

Summary: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wrote a piece Monday on whether Ubuntu had plateaued, essentially cranking out service packs on their 6 month release schedule. What I want to know, though, is why this is a bad thing?


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wrote a piece Monday on whether Ubuntu had plateaued, essentially cranking out service packs on their 6 month release schedule. What I want to know, though, is why this is a bad thing?

What this means is that Ubuntu has reached an incredible state of maturity and schools can quite happily use it without fear of obsolescence in 6 months. It also means that incremental updates are easily applied without significant disruption to labs or servers, while allowing users to take advantage of new features (whether they are exciting and sexy or merely useful and mundane).

It's one thing for me to fire up the latest and greatest distro from Canonical on my laptop and take it for a spin, kicking around visual effects and seeing what interesting packages I could find and use. It's quite another to do that in a school (or any enterprise, for that matter) with a barebones IT staff and teachers struggling to use something "not Windows" in the first place.

It's a great thing to revolutionize in computing and hats off to Canonical and all of the developers who have contributed to *buntu for bringing Linux into the mainstream and making it really usable for educators looking to credibly replace proprietary solutions. Hats off as well for just continuing to let the software evolve without making users jump through any new hoops.

While the geek in me is always looking for something new, improved, and uber-cool, the IT admin in me just wants something that works well and consistently, keeping my users happy and my costs down. Evolution can't be revolution for the geeks, but evolution is very much our friend as we make the case for rolling out non-Windows solutions in our schools.

Topics: Operating Systems, CXO, Linux, Open Source, Software

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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  • I agree

    I read the other article and it seems that when he wants updates he wants revolutionary new features. It's good to have fancy effects and such but Ubuntu already has those. What I see that their doing is trying to define Ubuntu. Trying to make it faster, better looking with more hardware support. That sounds good to me.

    Entr3p - learningubuntu.com
    • I concurr

      To add to what Entr3p stated, It finally seems as though Ubuntu is finally maturing into the Stable OS of choice for non-Windows Users. To restate the obvious, with its six month releases, places Ubuntu on par if not beyond, with the Windows OS. I have used it on a newer laptop (Kubuntu x64) and was more impressed with it than with my windows Vista, Which I still use and love. The question for canonical is whether they can market *buntu to take a bigger market share from Microsoft. Personally, I would team up with WINE and have a WINE package distributed with their retail Package and state that they can still use many of their favorite programs still. Yes users can still download the necessary packages, but it would be more convenient for the newbie and Windows user to have some of these basic packages installed from the get go to ease the transfer for those Windows users that are brave enough to let go of their Windows. But it is good to see Canonical's success with this variant of and what they have done with it. Personally it is hats off to Canonical for an excellent set of Distros.

  • Now they should get started on some

    context sensitive help and man pages that are somewhat close to current.
  • broader view

    If you think of Kubuntu or KDE as part of Ubuntu, I'd say that KDE 4.2 is revolutionary. Reviews usually focus just on Ubuntu and that's a pity, because they'll be missing one of the latest developments in desktop environment.
    • Maxwell Smart

      [i]If you think of Kubuntu or KDE as part of Ubuntu, I'd say that KDE 4.2 is revolutionary.[/i]

      Now all it needs is to be usable. Still working on that one.

      Unfortunately, there's no 3.5.10 release of kubuntu-desktop for Intrepid or Jaunty.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Real OS innovation is just beginning

    I think the real OS innovation is just beginning.

    The old OS paradigm was to add MORE & MORE features which resulted in slower machines with MORE & MORE bloat.

    The new OS paradigm seems to be "thin", "fast", "intuitive", "net connected", "cloud & app store building blocks".

    Smartphone OSs seem to be leading this rethinking & ultimately we should end up with some great "thin" OSs that can be augmented with whatever applications we want/need (education, business, games, social, media, ...).
    • OS Innovation? You mean OS Renovation

      "The new OS paradigm seems to be "thin", "fast", "intuitive", "net connected", "cloud & app store building blocks"."

      Back in the day we didn't need all new fancy terms. We just called it the mainframe.
  • Releases and service packs in Ubuntu: how to upgrade wisely

    Only LTS versions get "service packs" (point releases). Check this graphical overview of the release cycle of Ubuntu:

    A new version typically has a new Linux kernel, and that's a drastic innovation under the hood. So don't expect a new version simply to be a service pack....

    A wise way to upgrade is as follows:
    - wait until the new Ubuntu version is at least two months old: most annoying bugs will have disappeared by then, by means of updates.
    - preferably, in enterprise use, stick to LTS versions: they get 3 years of updates, whereas ordinary versions get only 18 months of updates.
    - upgrade cleanly: don't upgrade from within the older version, but do a clean install of the new version.

    Have fun, Pjotr.
  • RE: Ubuntu's

    The only way this could be good for education is if linux's plateau goes into a decline, which has already started. Then education sectors won't have to worry about ever using it again.
    Loverock Davidson
  • Not Really

    Maybe it's a good thing in primary and secondary
    education, but it isn't a good thing forhigher education or
    industry. I've been an enthusiast user of Linux for years
    and finally have started to use it in my research lab. But
    I've run into a problem, OpenSource on the desktop is still
    incredibly immature. Sure, the OS is fine, but application
    support is not. Where's my medical imaging software,
    where's my database client? Unfortunately, they don't
    exist. (And OpenOffice sucks.)

    To say thatt Ubuntu's plateau is good for education is like
    staring at the world through a straw. It's not, Ubuntu is
    much more than just the OS. It represents the best
    packaging of OpenSource offerings available. They have
    the ability to drive OpenSource innovation on the platform,
    and they have used that bully pulpit to great effect in the
    past. There are several more revolutions that are required
    on the OpenSource desktop, and Ubuntu can make those

    One other point, while using a plateaued (read
    technologically stagnant) distribution might be good for
    teachers, it isn't good for students. If OpenSource is really
    going to supplant commercial offerings, it needs to offer
    functional equivalency. Otherwise, students will abandon it
    as soon as they reach college for the real stuff. I like
    OpenSource, it should be the "real stuff" not a watered
    down imitation.

    <a href="http://www.oak-tree.us/blog">Oak-
    Rob Oakes
    • Giving choice is always good for education

      I appreciate what you say about your situation. But I do not see 'the rise of the (Ubuntu) machines' as being an either/or situation. With standard hardware, there are more choices available for students and faculty.

      And that has to be good.
  • Let's help Adrian.

    I feel a bit sad for the poor Adrian not finding his way up with 'buntu and brand new technology.

    We shall help him getting a grip on it. Thus I recommend 1 week of console mode, another week of obsolete Linux distros installation on obsolete computers and two weeks computer free with some wood shop in it or some Instructables week-end projects.
    I'm sure it will do him good ;-)
    • Yes, let's do it.

      In spite of his recent articles being off the mark I still believe Adrian is an honest blogger, he sure gives the impression that he tries hard.

      I'm sure it's just a bad phase he is going through. With some help he should come out of it stronger.
      InAction Man
      • Hehehe

        Adrian is a dedicated blogger. Trying to look forward for any tech events can makes you forget about the big picture, sometimes. It is a bad phase. I'm sure.
  • More seriously

    International apologies to Adrian if I've been hurtful or harsh ;-)
    More seriously, how do you benchmark evolution or performance. Having a turning cube or a move-able widget is just beautification.
    It might help in terms of ergonomics but still not necessarily for a basic user. Simplicity is tha word.

    How about performance. the need for more electricity and power to run an apps is devolution and waste.
    I learned it at grade school that the best performance is when you use the less amount of energy to do it. Computers might not do that anymore. As a car uses less gas to run more miles, the performance is inside and does nor reside in more lights in the front. Those times are gone.
  • XP the same for years

    Windows XP has been the same for years, except for fixes and many still won't use Vista for good reason. Vista requires spending more on hardware.

    Why is bad if Ubuntu's upgrades are more mundane than in the past? Some stability is good.
  • This is about education right?

    You know getting students familiar with an OS, modern applications lots of educational content. That would be Windows, not something used by less than 1% of the world (and that's total Linux, not just its many variants)

    It's not the students or the teachers who want last century's software and apps Chris - it's only you. I'm beginning to feel like I need to write to your school council and warn them.
    • So...

      You'd have Chris (and other teachers) to teach the kids a version of Windows which will be hopelessly out of date by the time they enter the workforce? Oh, and pay large amounts in license fees for the "privilege."

      Nah, you're the one living in "La la land" if you think that's the way schools should go.
  • RE: Ubuntu's Stable enough to count on...

    and use to teach CONCEPTS. If we want to teach a program
    we have a course or a trade school. If we want to teach
    writing, presenting, analyzing, we can use Office,
    OpenOffice, iWork, WordPerfect, NeoOffice, Appleworks...in
    other words, anything that will work. Do we need to pay
    outrageous licensing fees to teach people only one
    program so they can go into the workforce and make their
    employers buy outrageously priced "Productivity Software"?
    ? NO! In Education we want to teach the students how to
    think, not just which button to push.
    A stable FREE operating system and FREE productivity
    packages are the way to go. I'm glad they're saving MY tax
    dollars, what about yours?
  • balderdash

    "Last century's software". Sheesh. That hurts.

    "Clouds". All versions of *nix including Ubuntu have been able to run X windows apps from remote machines for YEARS. Not exactly new trendy cloud, but pretty up in the air. You can easily mix local and remote apps - Linux is designed that way and has worked that way for longer than I care to remember. And a bit more flexible than Remote Desktop under windows.

    "Vista requires expensive updates" - and by implication Linux doesn't. I started with ancient Redhat on an old 486. OK. It kept going longer under Linux than a 486 did did under NT. But are you seriously suggesting we can all install latest Linux distros on low spec kit? Linux has moved on just like WIndows has. But I agree that windows bloatrate is faster.