Will Ubuntu remain a minor player

Will Ubuntu remain a minor player

Summary: It is time for open source advocates to take off the rose-colored glasses and ask if Ubuntu -- more appropriately its Canonical business arm headed by Mark Shuttleworth -- is ever going to be a factor below the server level.

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Click2try announced it is hosting a version of Ubuntu, and applications, which people can try free and rent if they like it.

It's the most innovative thing I've seen from Ubuntu in months. And, yes, they didn't even do it.

It is time for open source advocates to take off the rose-colored glasses and ask if Ubuntu -- more appropriately its Canonical business arm headed by Mark Shuttleworth -- is ever going to be a factor below the server level.

I have always assumed that Ubuntu was the desktop play, but it has been blown out in netbooks and seems to have no presence in phones.

Part of the problem is the channel because, as I have written here before, there is a price lower than free. Acquiring a retail presence costs money, and since a free operating system has none it's not happening.

This is doubly true in mobile, where subsidies have to go up the stack to carriers and even manufacturers. The market is a bazaar where everyone wants you to pay before you can play.

This limits Ubuntu's options. You can only get so far on downloads and the charisma of your chairman. Can Ubuntu get farther, or is it doomed to be a minor player?

I know Ubuntu has many friends here. I like to think I'm one of them. Ubuntu has opened many markets by offering localized versions of its software in many languages.

It can rely on others' efforts, like the Linux Foundation, to draw in applications by supporting the Linux Standard Base. It is also supporting Moblin, hosted by the Foundation, as its mobile phone solution.

But all this is low-hanging fruit. If Ubuntu can't gain any retail foothold, if it can't win share in netbooks or on phones, how far can it really go? And how should it get there?

And please don't put it all off on this guy.

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

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388 comments
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  • What's novel here?

    Not the fact that you can try Ubuntu.

    It's the fact that you try any operating system.

    How is that happening? Most likely Click2Try is another open source hoster running Xen, much as Amazon Web Services, only they are moving ahead with easy 'on demand' operating systems in the cloud management consoles that even a 5 year old could run with a Java twist.

    Nicely done Click2Try.

    The exposure that Ubuntu and other Linux Distros will gain is only enhanced by this wonderful facility.

    Microsoft may have a hold on the Retail Point of Sale Walk In setting, but they can't stop people from running Click2Try.

    That is significant.

    Your line about Ubuntu remaining a minor player is really kind of silly Dana. The readers are going to think most likely that you 'just don't get it'.

    Do you?
    Dietrich T. Schmitz
    • It will be a major player...

      In the smartbook market that is coming. Those will likely come through the same vendors as for smartphones, which are not the regular PC retailers.

      If you cannot win, change the rules.
      zelrikriando
      • Im sorry, but wheres your proof?

        I'm sorry, but wheres your proof? Saying it Will be a major player in the smart book market after it was blown out of the water in the notebook market/Desktop market, makes no sense at all. In fact nothing shows it will be a major player in anything except server markets where that makes sense.
        Stan57
        • Predictions do not require any proof and cannot be proved

          You are asking the impossible.

          Try to be reasonable, OK?
          InAction Man
          • Ok, where is the proven track record

            That Linux can get anything beyond 1% of desktops and that Ubuntu can get even the lions share of that 1%?

            Uh, huh...
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • Ax

            What ever happened to Mike Cox? I miss him. Why don't you bring him back...

            lrfocke
            Louis Ross Focke
          • The track record is in a different market

            Well, what about Linux on servers?

            This is to point that he's saying that once it's not the desktop it becomes a different game.

            Linux on the servers has shown that you cannot expect performance in a different segment based on the desktop market share.
            rarsa
          • Not applicable - The kernel developers dont care about the Linux desktop

            No really.

            "If there is any one big problem with kernel development and Linux it is the complete disconnection of the development process from normal users. You know, the ones who constitute 99.9% of the Linux user base."


            http://apcmag.com/interview_with_con_kolivas_part_2_his_effort_to_improve_linux_performance_on_the_desktop.htm

            Duke E. Love
          • @Duke E. Love

            Your quote doesn't say they don't care about the Linux Desktop. Read it again.

            What it says is that the problem is that normal users are disconnected from the development process. In other words, they want the normal users to be part of developing the system.

            That could mean through general feedback, bug reports, brainstorming, long term use with feedback, possibly even looking into the code if that user has the knowledge and skills necessary.

            But it doesn't say a thing about not caring about the Linux desktop.
            tmsbrdrs
          • Server or desktop

            Point is that servers do 1 thing and that is their
            function. Serve. Desktops are doing everything
            except serve. The O/S that can run the most varied
            software is the choice for the consumer. The O/S
            that is most stable is the choice for the
            professional or business. Since consumer
            population is higher microsoft wins. The consumer
            software is there for windows and Mac, but not
            there for Linux based O/S. Why try to compete?
            kb5898
          • Predictions do not require any proof and cannot be proved

            I'm sorry, but just what is the prediction based on?? Surly not past performances in the markets. I think its more then a reasonable question.
            Stan57
          • The prediction is about a new market (ARM smartbooks I assume)

            No market yet (it's new) not past performance to take into account.
            InAction Man
          • Once upon a time ...

            ... there wasn't a market for sub $300 laptops sans DVD drives, with very small , small amounts of memory, small screens and low-power processors.

            And then netbooks arrived. Linux owned the netbook market. Until Windows came along.

            Linux lost 95% of the market that it used to own 100% ... in < 1 year.

            That's Linux' track record. History will repeat itself when MS finished porting Windows to ARM.
            de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
          • @devoid: Is Microsoft on record to commiting to an ARM port?

            nt
            Dietrich T. Schmitz
          • @Dietrich

            The fact that someone is not on record for future plans does not mean there are no plans to speak of.

            Apple is very good at that: You never know what they are doing until they launch it.

            Microsoft may be doing the same thing to throw others off their guard?
            GuidingLight
          • @GuidingLight:i'll take that as a no

            nt
            Dietrich T. Schmitz
          • @Dietrich: No, but ...

            Interestingly:
            1) Microsoft didn't state that they WOULDN'T. This is unusual.
            2) They've already ported Windows to ARM once before (circa 2000 they ported the Win 2000 source to Intel's StrongARM)
            3) Since then, they've cleaned up the Windows source tree ENORMOUSLY, eliminating all but the absolutely necessary portions of assembler.
            4) And since then they've ported Windows to both IA64 and x64.
            5) At this point, it wouldn't be rocket science to port Windows to ARM.
            de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
          • No one would care

            If MS ported Windows to ARM (something they've said that they have no plan to do), no one would care because none of the x86 programs people want to use would run. People run Windows because the drivers and programs are there. An ARM port eliminates those two reasons.
            daengbo
          • @dietrich: Silly assumption...

            If the success of a product depends on the belief that its competitors would make mistakes, then it is not a smart situation to be in.

            Just because Microsoft hasn't said something doesn't mean Microsoft is not doing anything there.

            Apparently, NVDIA thinks that Microsoft's OS for ARM is better than Android.

            http://wmpoweruser.com/?p=5047

            I hope you still don't assume "I'll take that as a no" since it is not coming from Microsoft per-se. Absence of evidence is not always an evidence of absence of facts. I hope the Linux community at large doesn't make assumptions like you.

            More indirect information on ARM solutions from Microsoft:

            http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2009/06/17/qualcomm-goldman-upgrades-win-ce-on-snapdragon/
            tick tock
          • numbers vs. percentage

            "Linux lost 95% of the market that it used to own 100% ... in < 1 year."

            Claims like that get made fairly frequently. Nobody wants to mention the numbers though.

            For instance, it's also claimed that Linux has 1% of the market, yet it has 5% of the market when judging strictly from netbooks.

            It's also claimed that Linux has more returns, yet the percentage you like to claim is 5 times higher with Linux on netbooks than with Desktops and netbooks are growing at a faster rate.

            You also forget to mention the increase in Linux users. There are more netbooks in use today running Linux than there were at the beginning of the netbook.
            tmsbrdrs