back to article Shuttleworth stretches Ubuntu from netbooks to heavens

Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and the marketing machine that is Microsoft are tough acts to follow. But Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu Linux project, is relieved that Windows 7 is out. Now, Ubuntu 9.10 - which is arguably the best desktop Linux released by the project and supported by Canonical, the commercial …


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  1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Quality line

    OK, that made my day:

    "To put it another way, Shuttleworth is not doing this for the money, but to see the look on Steve Ballmer's face."


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "To put it another way, Shuttleworth is not doing this for the money, but to see the look on Steve Ballmer's face."

    My money is on Ballmer going "Unbongo? what? who? where? Shuttlecock?"

    I'm sorry, but if Shuttleworth is doing this to see the look on Ballmers face, I fail to see the point?

    I'm almost positive this is most certainly NOT why Shuttleworth is funding a Linux venture.

    And as for any impact on Windows 7 - tell you what, when the average computer user on street actually has a clue WTF Ubuntu is, then perhaps the world will sit up and take notice.

    Until then, file under oddity, alongside "unknown", because Unbuntu is about as well known as Shuttleworth himself = not very.

  3. Glen Turner 666

    Did Microsoft milk the cash cow for too long?

    What has Microsoft come to when two people inspiring small companies -- Shuttleworth and Jobs -- can for their own particular reasons independently release strong competitors to Microsoft's key product. For Microsoft's level of staffing and their expenditure on development they should be years ahead of anyone else.

    [Beer, because the frat boys at MS have obviously been partying rather than studying. And now it's showing in their grades.]

  4. gerdesj Silver badge

    Not doing this for the money

    "To put it another way, Shuttleworth is not doing this for the money, but to see the look on Steve Ballmer's face."

    It's true that Mr Shuttleworth is absolutely minted beyond avarice's wildest dreams but he is still an entrepreneur. I suspect that Canonical's long term strategy will eventually pay off and I am very glad that someone like Mark decided to do this. I think that strategy is pretty commercially minded but with a real payoff period that would make most investors wince.

    It will take a few more years to put the spit 'n' polish on a GNU/Linux based desktop. The pieces are coming together slowly but inexorably. Whether you use SuSE, Ubuntu, Mint, or Yggdrasil or whatever, even if you have snags with some hardware, you must admit things are improving at a hell of a rate (OK the last is dead but it was my first distro). The pace of development is absolutely frighteningly quick. Unless you are heavily into office suites (but that is a different story)

    Now all I need in Linux land is a billionaire to support Gentoo and I'll be really happy.

  5. Gil Grissum
    Thumb Up

    Ubuntu Rocks

    I have Ubuntu 9.04 running on my main Laptop and have wine running MS Office on that, perfectly. I'm not going to put Windows 7 on that Laptop, nor my XP laptop. As a matter of fact, I'm waiting until Thursday to download 9.10 so can test the Live CD on my XP Laptop. If everything works well, then I will be dual booting XP and Ubuntu on that laptop as well. I love Ubuntu. It's fast, stable and free. It does everything I need it to do and then some. With Wine, I can run Windows app on it as well.

  6. rhoderickj

    Spread too thin

    Props to Canonical and Shuttleworth for what they have achieved, but trying to engage in so many fronts in one of the same mistakes Microsoft made. Canonical should have stayed focused on the Linux desktop for the end-user, rather than attempting to take on both Microsoft on the desktop, Red Hat in the server space, and Google, Amazon, and others in the cloud. Before branching into other markets, Ubuntu needed to secure at least a good share of a base market. It didn't, and now resources are just melting away while the desktop -- the ultimate product that boosted Ubuntu's popularity in the first place -- just stagnates.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New release doesn't matter really

    I evaluated Ubuntu a few weeks ago when considering a switch from Vista. The desktop shell (Gnome) is functional enough and Firefox is familiar but where Ubuntu really misses out for users is on the productivity suite front. just isn't upto par with MS office and Evolution cannot even be compared to Outlook. There's no sync facility (well there is but it's not guaranteed and there are several hacks you have to do to get it working) for WinMo.

    I think Ubuntu's focus should be to work with Sun and significantly improve their productivity suite or for MS Office to ship on Linux (and not thru Wine which has mixed success).

    I'm back to Windows for now. Yeah it's not Free (either as in beer or as in "freedom") but I'll take functionality and ease of use over a philosophical ideal that too abstract to bother me anyway. Thanks!

  8. Terryphi

    Koala Upgrade trashed my Ubuntu

    An upgrade of a WUBI install of Jaunty to Koala has wiped the system fonts so I can't even get into terminal to fix it. Luckily I always copy \ubuntu so it was simple to get back to Jaunty which has been rock solid.

  9. jake Silver badge

    Time will tell what end users and corporations think.

    This end user will stick with Slackware.

    Shuttleworth's a spacecadet ... and his Linux distribution is just as bloated as Win7 (or Vista SP2, if you prefer) for exactly the same reasons.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Best so far, by a long shot.

    I am running it as my mine desktop at work as Unix SA/DBA. Fanatsticly stable, easy to set up and rock solid. It gets pounded with all sorts of Linux variations of DB software, Sybase, Oracle, etc. When it was under 8.10, I think I rebooted it once in about 4 months for a new kernel revision.

    Don't give me that crap about graphics drivers! I am running Dual-head Eizos with an NVidia card, straight off the installed O/S. Install O/S, make do with supplied driver, which I have no problems running all the snazzy desktop effects. Then if you really want to you simply go to the Nvidia site and download their driver, install it by running one script! Nothing too difficult and certainly no different from Windows.

    The cherry on top, running VirtualBox 3.0 on top of it and it's great to have the best of all worlds, VMs of other Linux distros for testing and various flavours of Windows.

    I don't use it at home though, have Apple Macs at home! Unix is the past, present and the future!

  11. Anonymous Coward


    From the article

    And in that environment, I think we can compete." Especially with an Ubuntu desktop support contract costing only $55 per year."

    That much to be told "Reformat your hard drive and resinstall"

    Oh sorry, that is what you get from Microsoft.

    Personally, I don't like the nannying that Ubuntu does. Sorta like the nannying that Windows does.

    I prefer Debian or Fedora/CentOS/RHEL as they don't get in the way of what I want to do.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    First Impressions

    I've had 9.10 running thru Alpha and Beta on a test rig, and must say I am impressed with this release. I'm still dissapointed that Xorg doesn't run my Matrox G450MMS quad head video card, but thats an Xorg/Matrox issue, not Ubuntu. So to get that running I've had to roll back Xorg and lock it from upgrading. Not a difficult process, but maybe not for beginners. I wish Matrox would update their drivers to use the new Xorg arch.

    Ubuntu 9.10 as a desk top is quite a nice interface. I've seen some problems with Empathy IM and sound, I believe this is because of some audio sample packages missing in the Beta, but read that this is fixed for the public launch. That's about the only gripe I've had with the Beta.

    The only other gotcha to be aware of is that I have a backend machine running 9.04 and a MythTV backend. The Frontend in the software repos for Myth is a later revision, and the Myth project seem to have changed the database schema. Again, you can install the older Frontend and hold it back to maintain compatibility.

    The install is maybe not as fast as Windows 7, but 9.10 is running on an older test rig than I have the Win7 Beta on. However all my hardware was detected nicely. As ever adding Printers was a breeze. WE have some very hardcore Rioch and Gestetner professional printers on the network, and CUPS found them without any poking. Drivers went on with no hassle and everything was away. My TomTom and Suunto Sports watch still lack proper support, but again this is down to the manufacturers, not Ubuntu.

    The speed of the desktop is impressive, responsive, and maintains it's speed. This in comparison with my Windows 7 experiences where it is slowing down (mentioned in a previous post) is pleasing to see. I've put a LOT more software on 9.10 than I have dared to on Windows 7, and Ubuntu is still maintaining it's speed.

    I'm looking forward to installing the final release, as so far I'm impressed with the work that has gone in.

  13. Dave Bell

    Awkward Timing

    I am already signed up for NaNoWriMo, so I shall not be upgrading any OS in November.

    That should give time for the bugs to come from the woodwork out.

    Besides, my plans include ninja pirate clowns. One must have the roght priorities.

  14. John Robson Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    Not for profit

    Just to see the look on Balmers face - that's priceless!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe he's got it right?

    Actually, maybe Mark S _has_ got the right idea - after all if you check out the mainstream computer press it's Ubuntu that's usually touted as the alternative to Windows (along with MacOS) - so he's certainly getting the 'brand' out there.

    I've used 8.04LTS-64bit since not long after it came out and it's been very solid and dependable - it just works. And I replaced Linpus on my Acer netbook with 9.04UNR and it's been an improvement in just about every way. In which case I'll be looking forward to 9.10UNR with eagerness.

    Okay, I realise that this sounds pretty upbeat - but Mr S needs to remember not to start driving for feature count over stability - Ubuntu still hasn't got a stellar reputation in that latter area.

    Oh, and if his mission is to annoy Steve B @ Redmond, then would this be a good time to buy shares in office furniture companies in the Redmond area? :D

  16. Doug Glass

    But is it ....

    .... as good as Vista? But is it as good as Windows 7? Or maybe it's better than Vista or 7 ... dunno.

    I can't wait for the comparisons to start, life's been a bit dull lately and I could use some good old fashioned hate and discontent.

  17. James Hughes 1

    Go for it...

    Shuttleworth must really not like MS at all - he must have spent big wonga to get Ubuntu to where it is now (pretty good I think, still some way to go). Just to get on MS's tatty bojangles?

    Even Radio 4 have mentioned Linux in the last week or so (in the same breath as Windows 7). Could its time nearly be upon us......

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Karmic Koala ... ugh

    The OS might be just fine, but the names need some work.

    How about:

    Lame Lemming

    Moronic Mongoose

    Neutered Newt

    Obvious Ostrich

    Pleasant Pheasant

    Retarded Rhinoceros


  19. Ron Enderland

    Agree with you, rhoderickj

    I'd really like Ubuntu to concentrate on the desktop for now, ease into the cloud later. There's a funkiness to the Gnome desktop that's hard to put your finger on, but I will say that I prefer Ubuntu's Gnome to any others I've tried. As for the server, I stick with CentOS and its rpm/yum system. It's just tried and true for me. I have it playing ball perfectly with Active Directory at work, serving up an application-rich intranet.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Rocket Science

    Ditch the stupid names and the brown theme and it will become more popular. Hardly ******* rocket science.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Roll on Thursday

    Can't wait, I am not a linux fanboy but I just like the fact it works. And after three days of hell with windows 7 (don't get me started) I am looking to upgrage my ubuntu which has been hassle and effort free since I installed it two years ago.

    My windows Pc is a 6.8 score gaming rig, my linux machine is a three year old single core. Guess which is faster and generally all round more productive?

    @Matt 89

    The stocks and shares paper put forward by MS shows they consider him more of a threat, so perhaps you should take stock (no pun) of that if nothing else.

    I have used win7, it isn't replacing my linux machine as to me it is just about catching upto linux 8.10 and Mandriva 2009.1 All these "new" features are just old for the linux distros I use. For the people that know about IT, win7 is just one of a good list of options. However it still carries the vista coding (It still says build 6.1 in palces), the viruses, the price tag, the MS baggage.

  22. Dexter
    Thumb Down

    It's good but

    I've been using Ubuntu for the last year or so at home after one too many WIndoze virus.

    Absolutely great for web browsing, word processing and general stuff.

    But there are still some things that it doesn't do well, and some that it doesn't do at all.

    Printing 6x4 photos is a major hassle compared to Windows. Scanner support not nearly as good, even with HPLIP, quality is very poor.

    Doesn't work properly with newer iPods (doesn't work at all with the Touch or the iPhone) - scrambled all the cover art last time I tried.

    And of course there are all those cheapo bits of hardware I have which only work with Windows, such as a little frame grabber and a slide scanner.

    Fine for a lot of things, but it's not a replacement for a 'mainstream' OS like Windows or Mac OSX.

  23. The BigYin
    Thumb Up

    @Gil Grissum

    Can you please let us know where you got the instructions on how to run office? There's loads of guides on the net, but many are out of date/wrong.

    Ta much!

  24. copsewood

    @Glen Turner 666

    "What has Microsoft come to when two people inspiring small companies -- Shuttleworth and Jobs -- can for their own particular reasons independently release strong competitors to Microsoft's key product. For Microsoft's level of staffing and their expenditure on development they should be years ahead of anyone else."

    If the proprietary methodologies used by Microsoft are much less cost effective than the open source methodologies used by Apple (for all but cosmetics) and by Canonical then this would explain why Microsoft is doing so badly in comparison. It wouldn't matter how much money Microsoft has and spends, they could not easily outcompete an open source Mac with proprietary cosmetics or a fully open source Linux.

    What is likely to happen is that Microsoft will have to opensource increasing parts of the Windows system, so they can benefit from collaborative development, rather than having to develop and own everything in house. Ubuntu and Apple do as well as they do simply because most of the software they package is developed collaboratively elsewhere and by other people.

    But when Microsoft do start to opensource their system (e.g. as with their so called "shared source" program) they are still several years behind and have much to do to catch up.

  25. Number6

    @Anonymous Coward 08:28

    Sadly, nannying is what most computer users need, both for the initial install and then just click-and-run for important programs. The discerning ones probably already run Linux and are happy to compile the kernel for breakfast every morning instead of downloading it from a box.

    The trick is to allow nannying by default but still make the underlying config easily available for those that disagree with the OS about what's best.

  26. Kevin Bailey


    I wonder how easy it would be to get the calendar and contacts to sync with a phone. I'm happy with Ubuntu on laptop and Mini 9. But am thinking of switching to Google calendar/contacts as I'd be able to sync to a new Android (possibly Google) phone.

  27. IGnatius T Foobar

    Microsoft does not innovate

    It is somewhat ironic that on the same page as this article, there's a link to another El Reg article called "Windows 95 to Windows 7: How Microsoft lost its vision" [] in which Tim Anderson asserts that Windows 7 is basically just an incremental improvement of Windows 95. For Microsoft, the uncomfortable truth is that there are really only a few things that an operating system should do, and Windows already does them. Anything beyond that just gets in the way. It's a platform for launching applications. That's quite a problem if you're trying to wring more and more money out of your customers each year, but it's just fine for a Linux vendor. Make it simple, make it reliable, make it easy to use. I look forward to Ubuntu's expanded presence in the computing scene.

    And yes, I've already tried both Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.10, and found that Ubuntu's release is far more worth getting excited about than Microsoft's.

  28. Rafael 1

    @Sid D

    "I think Ubuntu's focus should be to work with Sun and significantly improve their productivity suite or for MS Office to ship on Linux (and not thru Wine which has mixed success)."

    MS Office to ship on Linux? Heh.

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