Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

Summary: Ubuntu has long been popular on the Linux enthusiast desktop, but, so far it hasn't been very popular on business desktops. Canonical plans on changing that with its next version.

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Say hello to Ubuntu Unity with its built-in cloud.

Say hello to Ubuntu Unity with its built-in cloud.

I use the Linux desktop at work, but I'm in a tiny minority. Most people use Windows. Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company, plans on getting at least some Windows users to switch though with its next long term support (LTS) release.

Canonical has announced that it would be extending the support and maintenance period for the April 2012 LTS Ubuntu Linux release for desktop users from three years to five years. The move comes in response to what the company claims is "increasing demand for Ubuntu desktops in corporate environments where longer maintenance periods are the norm. It brings the desktop product into line with Ubuntu Server which continues with five years of support for LTS releases."

In a blog posting, Ubuntu's founder, Mark Shuttleworth, expanded on this. "We need to do justice to the fact that 12.04 LTS will be the preferred desktop for many of the world's biggest Linux desktop deployments, in some cases exceeding half a million desktops in a single institution. So 12.04 is also an opportunity to ensure that our desktop is manageable at scale, that it can be locked down in the ways institutions need, and that it can be upgraded from 10.04 LTS smoothly as promised. Support for multiple monitors will improve, since that's a common workplace requirement."

That desktop, by the by, is going to stay Unity. There will be no return to a GNOME 2.x style desktop, never mind GNOME 3.x. According to Shuttleworth, "The nail-biting transitions to Unity and Gnome 3 are behind us, so this cycle is an opportunity to put perfection front and center. … That's an opportunity to work through the whole desktop interface and make sure we're using exactly the right weight in each place, bringing the work we've been doing for several cycles fully into focus."

Welcome to Ubuntu 11.10: Oneiric Ocelot (Photo Gallery)

Shuttleworth expects that there will be a lot of fit and polish work to come before Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is ready to deploy on the corporate desktop. He continued, During UDS [Ubuntu Developer Summit] we'll build out the list of areas for refinement, polish and 'precisioneering [sic]', but the theme for all of this work is one of continuous improvement; no new major infrastructure, no work on pieces which are not design-complete at the conclusion of the summit.

When Shuttleworth says no big changes, he means it. "While there are some remaining areas we'd like to tweak the user experience, they will probably be put on hold so we can focus on polish, performance and predictability," said Shuttleworth. "I'd like to improve the user experience around Workspaces for power users, and we'll publish our design work for that, but I think it would be wisest for us to defer that unless we get an early and effective contribution of that code." In short, the Unity interface you see today is pretty much the Unity you'll see in April 2012.

Canonical wants to make darn sure that the desktop is mature and ready to go because according to their own research, "LTS releases have become particularly popular with Ubuntu business users. Canonical's own survey data shows over 70% of server users are deployed on LTS versions of the product. Bringing this extended support to the desktop is a response to similar popularity in businesses of the desktop LTS releases."

Here's Ubuntu's Long Term Support Plans

Ubuntu's Long Term Support Plans

What does LTS mean for business users? According to the company, "The first two years of the LTS period will benefit businesses by including hardware updates (through regular point releases) allowing them to keep up to date with the latest hardware upgrades. Maintenance updates will continue for a further three years. Businesses can now rely on always running an LTS version regardless of their hardware refresh rate."

In addition, "PC manufacturers can now standardize their business-focused range of PCs on an LTS release with a five year support period. This is a more compelling proposition to bring to their customer base especially aligned with the Ubuntu Advantage support programs from Canonical which will fully support the new LTS period."

Can they do it? It's possible. I've looked at Windows 8 and I sure don't see anything about Metro, its new interface, that business users are going to want.

In addition, Ubuntu already has baked-in cloud-computing. While no one has announced an Ubuntu Unity tablet, I keep looking at Unity and I keep seeing a tablet interface. In short, Ubuntu's already a post-PC desktop, and that will be no small advantage in the twenty-teens.

In the past, users stuck with XP rather than upgrade to Vista. Indeed, it's only been in the last few weeks that more people have finally moved from XP to Windows 7. I expect most users to stick with Windows XP or 7 in the next three to five years, but as the desktop wanes and more and more of us use smartphones and tablets for our business computing, there just might be room for a well-supported desktop Linux to gain a niche to call its own.

Want to know more about why you might want to use Ubuntu for your business desktop? Check out Canonical's business desktop site.

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The Linux desktop is dead. Long live the Linux desktop.

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

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  • Latest Ubuntu Game Changer

    The latest Ubuntu makes me think this is possible. The "App Store" style method of installing apps is epic in the right direction. Think the Ubuntu dev's are finally realizing that people don't want to know ANYTHING about apt-get or rpms. They want to install apps like on an iPad.
    cowboycraig
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

      @cowboycraig
      Dude, what are you talking about? Graphic installer has been around for many years. It is called synaptic. Click on the menu, go to system and launch it. Why do you talk about apt-get?
      kirovs
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @kirovs@... Synaptic is not part of Ubuntu 11.10. Ubuntu 11.10 has transitioned completely to their app-store style package interface for the desktop. That's what he is talking about.
        cabdriverjim
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @SJVN: STOP THE PRESSES!! THIS IS __THE__ YEAR OF LINUX ON THE DESKTOP!!!!!
        markbn
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @kirovs@... Applications are not packets.
        kudraw
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @kirovs@...
        I almost exclusively use apt-get, recently moved my laptop and desktop from Ubuntu 10.10 to 11.10 (I tried using LUbuntu first, but had many weird issues, then went to KUbuntu as I've always liked the KDE interface, but continued having issues related to hardware. finally put Unity Ubuntu on my desktop and did not do what I did to screw the other ones up. and all is working fine for now. Until I decide I really want that one part of my sesytem to work properly...)

        at least apt-get tells me what it is going to do before it does it. Not to mention installing anything not from the app store (especially non-.deb packages) can not be done from the app store.
        aiellenon
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

      @cowboycraig Nothing about Linux is a game changer.
      jhammackHTH
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

      @cowboycraig
      I love it and I actually use Linux all the time now as a result. It's sleek, smooth, works great, looks great. I love it. It's time for Linux to move into the mainstream now. Ubuntu will be the driving force. Mr. Shuttleworth, make it happen.
      Galidari
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

      @cowboycraig

      Ubuntu 11.10 is nasty, however Kubuntu 11.10 is quite impressive. I'm looking forward to Kubuntu 12.04 and 5 year LTS.
      Alan Smithie
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @Alan Smithie

        It's all a matter of personal preference. I'd rather be hit by a bus, repeatedly, until the end of time than use KDE. But that's just me.
        Necrolin
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @Alan Smithie
        I will most likely switch back to KDE with 12.04, I miss having plasmoids, I used to have an entire desktop devoted to plasmoids, to monitor everything, from hardware tracking to keeping up to date blog pages open.
        aiellenon
  • I have to say, Unity is a regression

    I have been in the Ubuntu camp and still am only because I have chosen with 11.10 to switch to Xubuntu (running Xfce4).<br><br>Unity is a regression because it removes features what were central to the popularity of the Gnome 2.x interface.<br><br>Incremental improvements that enhance the Desktop Experience make sense, but Unity broke the Desktop Experience by forcing the user to 'dumb down' and accept the Unity way of doing things.<br><br>I'll stay with Xubuntu for the time being but Shuttleworth made a strategic mistake in taking it upon himself to decide what's best for everyone--that is 'elitist' and is why I've never liked Apple. Choice has been taken away.<br><br>I cherish choice and so should you.<br><br>Thanks Steve
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate I have to agree. I tried Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity and it slowed down my productivity so much that I removed it altogether and chose Xubuntu. Xfce has improved drastically in the past few years and to me it is better than Unity, GNOME 3, and KDE. [Posted from by Xubuntu]
      statuskwo5
      • Good deal. My AAO tops off at 150MB when Desktop is reached

        @statuskwo5
        Everything snaps with Xubuntu. Fast, lean, mean.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @statuskwo5
        Agree. Tried last week end and if I want MS Windows performance I will use MS Windows, if I want MAC style features I will use (and I am writing this from MBA) mac. Linux for me was everything about liberty to do whatever I think was right to be done with the computer and of course the speed. On the Unity desktop I tried the right click on the different task bars in order to modify them and ... nothing. So after few years of pleasure with Ubuntu / eeebuntu & CO. I will move to LMDE with Xfce.
        And regarding Linux as productivity laptop / desktop, it is absolutely capable. Most of European public services in France and Germany and using different flavors of Linux.
        njoncic
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz :<br><br>DESKTOP LINUX in any shape or form IS and always HAS BEEN a regression.
        markbn
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate I agree, I hate Unity.
      slickjim
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        @Peter Perry Don't know about Xubuntu, but as a former looong time user of KDE and Gnome and I see no loss of productivity with Unity. Takes a while to get used to and I did feel frustrations in the beginning, but once done, it's at least as productive. Does a better use of screen space for one. My only complain is that I hit a few minor bugs, but I assume these will eventually go away.
        desmarais99
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux will try for the business desktop

        I was a Ubuntu user since 8.04 up until 11.04. I am done with Ubuntu, I use Xubuntu and Linux Mint now. I hate Unity.
        m.ranjith
    • I hate to admit it

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      but after trying Xubuntu in my VM... I found that it runs so much quicker than Unity. No clue why, though.
      Michael Alan Goff