When it comes to releasing operating systems, Ubuntu have it figured out

When it comes to releasing operating systems, Ubuntu have it figured out

Summary: I know that it might not seem like it at times, but I'm a big Ubuntu fan. I haven't fully figured out how and where it fits into my computing ecosystem yet, but I know that it does have a place there. One aspect of Ubuntu that particularly impresses me is the clear development time-line that is published and adhered to. You always know what's coming and when to expect it.


I know that it might not seem like it at times, but I'm a big Ubuntu fan.  I haven't fully figured out how and where it fits into my computing ecosystem yet, but I know that it does have a place there.  One aspect of Ubuntu that particularly impresses me is the clear development time-line that is published and adhered to.  You always know what's coming and when to expect it.

I like surprises, but I much prefer it when they are confined to Christmas and my birthday.  When it comes to trying to make the right technology choices, surprises aren't so good because they create too much uncertainty and doubt.  When I look at both Leopard and Vista, one this strikes me - both were highly anticipated, but once they were released the disappointment set in pretty quick.  I can't help but feel that some of this disappointment is down to a new operating system representing too big a change in how people interact with their computers.  Marketing people love big unveilings and generating "Wows!" but on the whole, people on the ground are wary of big changes.

With Ubuntu things are different.  Rather than a whole paradigm shift with every release, you get small, incremental changes on a regular basis.  Things get better, but the learning curve and disruption to workflow is kept to a minimum.  Sure, there has to be times when there's a radical shake-up and some big changes made, but that doesn't need to happen with every release.

I'm not going to try to suggest for one minute that Apple and Microsoft are going to change how they do things and adopt a similar pattern (although, so some extent Apple has already been doing this with OS X).  I'm not even sure if this model would work for commercial software which relies on having sweeping changes at regular intervals, but for Ubuntu, it's highly workable.  The Ubuntu model has some huge benefits, the main one being that the wheel doesn't have to be reinvented for each release.  The programmers can stick with what works, fix what doesn't and add features at a more controlled and leisurely pace.

When I look at the issues that seem to be facing early adopters of Vista and Leopard, I'm coming to the conclusion that modern operating systems are so complex that .0 releases are inevitably going to be problematic.  Pioneers get the arrows.

So, which do you prefer?  Do you like discovering secret features and figuring out how a new OS works, or do you prefer some consistency in your life?

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

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  • The reason Ubuntu can get away with that

    is because it is free. No one wants to pay $100 or $130 or whatever for an incremental release, and I can't see MS or Apple bringing the upgrade prices down to the $20 or so that people might be willing to pay for merely an incremental release knowing that the fact that there will be a significant percentage of people who will not do the incremental increases even if it is inexpensive because they will see it as "yet another bill". The other option for proprietary OSes of course would be the subscription model, but even though I would not personally object to it if it were reasonably priced, it give most other people the hives just thinking about it.
    Michael Kelly
    • Subscriptions and Free OS's

      I agree, more or less completely, with this reason Ubuntu works. I have downloaded several versions of Ubuntu (and Xubuntu) to try out, but have failed to take it up. With each new incremental release, I feel tempted to download it again and try it out some more (I just don't know well enough how Linux works to justify the time at the moment). I would never have tried it, however, if it cost. In fact, when I first looked into Linux, I was torn by the choice between Linspire, Suse, and Ubuntu. Ubuntu is free, so I tried it.

      Will Apple or MS do this? No, it's a primary source of income. I wonder, however, if MS might not be moving more towards a subscription model with their new Live platform? Perhaps, they will play with the idea of having 'improved security' or 'more frequent updates' or something when they start this and roll the model out across the MS platform?

      Who Knows?
      • Try PCLinuxOS...

        give it a shot
        Hrothgar - PCLinuxOS User
      • The very first Linux I tried I paid for

        I purchased the very first Linux I used. It was Lycoris (Mandriva Linux bought them out recently) in late 2000. I bought and paid for my first copy of Linux for the same reason I bought and paid for my first copy of Microsoft Windows - my expectation was that that is what one does.

        I knew nothing about Linux, but it's not as if learning it was any more difficult than learning Microsoft Windows was. There's a GUI and a mouse and a keyboard, and a menu, and you launch programs from the menu or the desktop. Some of the programs are almost exactly the same as what you find on Windows, in how the users works with them some are different. I learned the differences. Later I learned how to do command line stuff (as it happens it's easier than doing command line on Windows).
        tracy anne
      • subscription

        I'd pay $25 or $30 a year if I could get these "incremental" upgrades. It could work out for Microsoft in a simple way: no more forcing users to upgrade or to stop supporting an OS or having to drop support and force people to upgrade. This way, everyone upgrades unless you drop your subscription. If you do that, then you end up having something like how owning Windows 2000 is now.... no future support.

        No one would really have to take the plunge and upgrade the entire system. The Windows authentication is your subscription model. Change your computer, change your subscription. Still, Microsoft should be learning from Ubuntu instead of trying to sue Linux altogether. Steal from them like you stole from everyone else, Microsoft.
        • Time to move on.

          Mr Glenn, HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? No one, and I mean NO ONE supports obsolete O/Ss (Operating Systems) if Microsoft were to do that, then we might as well head back to DOS! Microsoft releases a new operating system ever half a decade or so, and developers get the new kernel quickly so they can create patches as needed for their products. And generally with the release of XML as a building platform it allows your, their, and my programs run without a change to the internal coding. Apple does the same thing, only with java and I have YET heard anyone whining about OS X's releases. I agree with you, and use Ubuntu myself, and happy about hearing that mainstream computer makers are building Ubuntu boxes for business. BUT FOR THE TIME BEING LEARN TO USE XML TO PROGRAM WITH!!!! Trust me it's not hard, I'm an old "C" programmer and was able to make the change.
    • Apple already DOES get away with it

      [i]No one wants to pay $100 or $130 or whatever for an incremental release[/i]

      I would call 5 releases in 7 years "incremental", wouldn't you? Apple [b]does[/b] get away with it and I say [b]good for them[/b]! They've found a set of consumers who are willing to pay $129 for incremental releases. Great business model, wish I'd thought of it first!

      I'm still shocked that the Leopard upgrade process is such a [b]huge disaster[/b]. It is an incremental release over Tiger and they [b]still[/b] screwed it up!
      • lets face it, there are plenty of

        mugs and fashion victims around to service both MS and Apple
      • Inconsistent logic

        Leopard isn't an incremental upgrade and it's not a [b]huge[/b] disaster, Mr. Bold.
      • No I wouldn't call that incremental

        5 in 7 years, that's about one every 16-18 months or so. That's more frequent than what we're used to, but not so much that I'd call them incremental upgrades. Ubuntu and other Linux distros are more on the order of one every 3-6 months.

        And yes, that is expensive compared to MS, or at least the cost of MS if they reach their goal of a new release every 2-3 years. But as you say, if their customers are happy...

        I'm not so shocked that there are problems with Leopard, because that programming team has had way too much on their plates as of late. Their company goals are growing much faster than their human resources. You can only stretch people so far.
        Michael Kelly
        • And with less than a quarter of engineers as Microsoft has too

          • How do you know that?

            Exactly how many engineers does each company employ?
        • Come on..

          There have and will always be issues with updating, but I think most have been blown
          out of order. I think this is more FUD. Compare this to what it is like to upgrade
          Windows. Perhaps this was not Apple best upgrade, but still not a disaster.
      • I have to argue...

        Apple's so-called 'incremental' upgrades are more than you
        think... and less. Each of the steps through the different cats has
        been a significant upgrade or change over the previous version,
        usually improving performance and reliability over its
        predecessor; until Leopard. On the other hand, the upgrades
        released between the cats IS an incremental upgrade and given

        Leopard is a significant change in many areas, mostly under the
        hood where you can't see them. Unfortunately, it is these 'hidden'
        changes that are causing the most problems. With OS X 10.5
        Apple has moved up to a more security-conscious version of
        Unix that adds another level of firewall protection not available in
        previous versions. This protection has changed a lot of the
        permissions within the OS which is, as a result, creating havoc for
        a lot of old-time users. Even in my own case, a mistake made in
        assigning permissions for some applications forced me to wipe
        and reinstall my main drive; something I've never before had to
        do in OS X but frequently had to do in every version of Windows
        I've used up to now.

        The point is, Ubuntu isn't doing anything different from Apple or
        Microsoft. The so-called Incremental Updates, whether it be
        Service Packs or 10.cat.x are free. The question is, will Ubuntu
        continue this for its major upgrades, if any?
        • huh?

          You said...
          "With OS X 10.5
          Apple has moved up to a more security-conscious version of
          Unix that adds another level of firewall protection not available in
          previous versions."
          What exactly are you talking about?
    • No not true

      I pay for my Mandriva Linux. I pay 59 Euros (that's $AU93.00 or about $US90.00) per year, and I get 2 copies of Mandriva Linux Powerpack edition a year, that's each of the 2 6 monthly releases that Mandriva release a year. It used to be more $US130.00 about $AU200.00 when the exchange rate was different).

      Obviously I'm not the only person who see's value in paying for Free Software, as Mandriva's business model is based on people doing exactly that.

      On th other hand I am completely at liberty to download and use any of the free (as in no cost) editions of Mandriva Linux, or indeed any other no cost Linux distribution.
      tracy anne
    • You're correct about why

      but I'm not sure if a low priced regularly updated Windows would work. Inevitably, people would skip over a few released and just pay the 20 bucks for one 2 or 3 releases down the road. What's more, MS/apple would have to support all of these different versions, which would be a nightmare, I suspect.

      I think the subscription model is the only way that these companies can do what Ubuntu is doing.

      It might not go over well with Joe Sixpack, but it might sit well with businesses. Then again, given how long it takes businesses to roll out a new OS, MS would probably have released 2 or 3 iterations before the company installed the first update ;)
    • Upgrades

      Witht he OS, that actually updates very slowly, but all of the apps I have installed get updated quite regularly which is very cool. I've been using Scribus to put out a magazine and the early versions were quite poor compared to the speed and ease of use of Publisher and Pagemaker, but when it hit 1.3.3.x it really picked up in quality. The best thing was my PC jsut kept updating automatically from the repositories. Same with OpenOffice. 2.3 jsut auto updated and fixed some of the problems I was having with Base and slow performance. (The database was fine but the front end made quick searches in forms very slow and t3edious. All better now)

      Without a single update source in Windows I'm always having to manually download the newest versions of all the apps and install them myself. Sure the OS keeps getting patched automatically, but them MS rolled out some updates to DotNet that broke other apps I use. Do ya tink I can find which update did it? Nope. 8(
    • incrimental upgrades

      Well dont even sugest us to pay $20 for incrimental upgrades because microsoft dont charge right now for that. By the way question what do you supose the windows upgrade is other than the ubantus incrimental upgrade. And it doesnt come with drastic changes but functional fixes. Wow what a new concept. But only ubontu could figure this one out. So let see if i call crap gold and convince you its gold it will start to smell good for you too. Windows,Tiger, vista, vixta,ubantu,fedora,gutsy gibon. Whatever name you come up with is just interface between you and the computer and its man made and forever need to get fixed and betered. So do yourselfs a favor and live with it. Oh by the way fedora vixta looks preaty good but i'm not a linux guy. For some reason I stuck with windows and now leopard looks mighty awsome too. For some reason the bugs just chelenge me to fix them. Meny times bugs show themselfs because of unconventional use. You do something you wouldnt otherwise breaking some of the ruls. Live with that and wait for the fix. It is so exiting to see all these choices. Having a computer with like 4 operating systems instaled and can boot anyone and just enjoying a difrent style of system. To me all are exelent in their own way. Any of you hear of the amiga? It seems like its trying to pul the same stunt apple did and come back from the grave yard. I'm interested to see if it the same way as apple be able to do it and what it turns out to be. Good luck to all of you with your bug fixes.
  • RE:"where it fits into my computing ecosystem yet"

    Adrian, here is some fun for you. I run multiple versions of 'nix' on my Vista (simultaniously) using MS Virtual PC. Display (#1&#2) are dedicated to Vista, while on (#3-26") I open the other OSs. Rather than re-booting or using another PC to compare features, one simply has to (click = in)(right alt = out) to switch. If you have problems capturing the mouse, 'arcanecode' has the fix. (requires re-writing a couple of lines in 7.10)
    Have FUN!