back to article Shuttleworth heir opens up on Ubuntu biz

When you have Mark Shuttleworth as your backer, as commercial Linux distributor Canonical does, it is a bit like having money in the bank when the bank also believes fervently in your cause. It is a rare combination, and one that has allowed the Ubuntu project to reach out from its Linux desktop beginnings into commercial …


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  1. Macka

    Certified on HP Servers (sort of)

    I was waiting for Ubuntu to be certified on HP iron in the form of a Ubuntu version of their Proliant Support Pack. I honestly believed that Ubuntu would have to start rolling their own kernels as Rehat and SLES do before that would happen, but I just checked, and it's there: version 8.32-1 from the 14th Jan 2010 as well, even more up to date than the Redhat kit. However none of the long list of individual linux drivers kits are available yet. Good progress though.

  2. J 3

    Counting active installs

    I wonder why they don't do something like the following, to get a better estimate of how many active installs of the OS are around: When there is an update of a piece of system software, count how many times it was downloaded. Assuming a significant proportion of the installed machines do get updated, and that one copy of the OS won't update the same package more than once, wouldn't this give a better idea of the number of installed copies than number of OS downloads? (I for one download the distro once, burn to CD and/or copy to USB drive, and install on three our four computers, for example) This idea is so simple that someone must have thought of it, and found out it does not work for some reason. But which?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I have downloaded Ubuntu (and/or Kubuntu) many times but run neither, never having found it satisfactory. Whether that roughly cancels out your situation (and I would download once and install multiple times too if I actually liked *buntu) is anyone's guess, but your proposal sure looks more accurate to me at least!

    2. mike 32
      Thumb Down

      You're forgetting...

      that many institutions such as universities will host their own local repositories for ubuntu (and many other flavours). Thus a single download of the update may spawn a few hundred downloads locally, all totally invisible to Canonical.

      This may not be the case everywhere, but it certainly was the way things worked at Shuttleworths' alma mater, where many in the CS and EE departments were/are avid Ubuntu users. With the bandwidth available in SA, universities simply couldn't afford to allow everyone to update from Canonicals' repositories.

      Coincidentally, I've heard the situation has gotten much better at such tertiary institutions - right after I left :-(

    3. pootle

      erm, no, not really a good count

      With it being so easy to set up an apt-cache virtual machine (takes less than 1 hour), I suspect many people will be caching, I know I am at home, with 1 server, 2 desktops, 1 laptop and a couple of VM's all running ubuntu.

      1. lightweight

        I agree on apt-cache

        Our company has probably 40ish machines (desktops, laptops, physical and virtual servers) behind a single apt-cache using a mix of Hardy (8.04) and Karmic (9.10)... that's a roughly a 20 to 1 ratio of installs to downloads... wonder how many other businesses like ours and other organisations (universities?) are doing the same...

  3. Roger Greenwood

    Only 10 million machines?

    I thought it would be more than that. I have 3 Ubuntu machines at home already (and 1 SuSE).

  4. mhenriday

    Let us hope that Ubuntu can indeed

    work its way into the realm of black ink in the next few years, while continuing to provide an OS alternative for ordinary consumers. Decisions like making the Yahoo search engine the default on the Firefox version installed on the upcoming Lucid Lynx version are not, however, the way to go ; rather they will simply serve to annoy Ubuntu's consumer base....


    1. Eldnah
      Thumb Up

      Not to mention, Ubuntu has mono.

      Agreed ... and Ubuntu's willingness to happily install Mono-based applications ignores another opening move in Micro$oft's classic "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" strategy. I've been looking for a good alternative desktop-oriented distro for a while but still haven't found one that: is easy for non-techy end user clients; is powerful enough for techies; has a decent server version; has a large, active, friendly community and a large installed base; is preferably debian based; and affiliated vendors are not in bed with M$.

      Still looking and happy to jump ship if found. Might just have to go straight debian, or give up on debs and go rpm (ugh) with Mandriva if Ubuntu doesn't wake up and clean out the rot.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    PR crap-ola

    "consumers sometimes pay for an Ubuntu support contract indirectly when they buy Ubuntu embedded in a device"

    HAH! You (basically) cannot buy any Linux distro pre-installed on a consumer device. It's Windows or nothing (unless you go to Apple). So come on El Reg (an Canonical) show me this list of mythical devices that have Ubuntu installed. What price? What spec?

    I tried to find Linux on some HP kit the other day - nothing (note: consumer device, no servers). Dell may still sell one hobbled netbook with Ubuntu on it, but that's it. None of the big OEMs will sell Linux pre-installed in any serious way.

    It's a total crock and means if you want a Linux OS for some reason, you have to pay the MS tax.

    1. Keith Oldham

      Re PR crap-ola

      Well I've got a fileserver, 3 workstations and a netbook that have never had Windows anywhere near them.

      Build the desktops/servers yourself - it's easy.

      Not Ubuntu mainly though - mostly OpenSUSE + EEEbuntu on the netbook

      1. The BigYin

        For us, maybe

        For normal users, no way. And there is the after-sales support to consider.

        You need to be able to go the the Dell (say) website, select the machine, choose the OS, spec it and then buy. This just isn't happening and until it does Linux will stay in it's sub-1% niche.

      2. Keith Oldham


        Companies like Novatech sell a large range of PCs without any OS. Putting a modern Linux distribution on is easy. The cheaper ATOM based ones are ~£170+VAT without a monitor. Of course you need to factor in the cost of a CD or DVD to write the Linux download onto !

    2. SynnerCal
      Thumb Up

      HP ain't that bad

      AC wrote: "I tried to find Linux on some HP kit the other day - nothing (note: consumer device, no servers)."

      According to the HP UK website, both HP Mini netbooks (51xx and 21xx) come with the option of SLES11. And there's the lovely postscript "Contact your reseller or HP sales representative for additional operating system choices and domain join support". Translation - if you want some non-Windows OS then fine, just give us a big cheque.

      I'm guessing that both Mini's would have to be ordered with Linux - and for some reason HP regards netbooks as "business only" - doh!

      Agree with you that it'd be nice to get a little more choice in distro, oh, and being able to order a desktop/notebook with Linux would be neat - especially as I know HP internally can do this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Post the link then

        I have seen comments like this before. Post the link where you can actually buy them. Bet you can't find it in the UK (I kept getting redirected to the USA, then 404s etc).

  6. Anonymous Coward

    2 editorial issues.

    1. Have the bollocks to admit to mistakes and show your damned edits.

    2. Why delete a post that, albeit pedantically but politely pointed out the minor error!

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: 2 editorial issues.

      1. No. Why should we? Who elected you to the board?

      2. See above.

      1. Marvin the Martian

        OK, other editorial issue

        "judging by its employee headcount, Canonical is growing like crazy" should be corrected to "Canonical's employee headcount is growing like crazy" --- the first is a guess the second a factual statement.

  7. Adam Williamson 1


    "Depending on the year, Novell and Red Hat are generating around $235,000 to $240,000 per employee, and given that ratio, that should have put Canonical at somewhere around $30m in sales in calendar 2007, up above $52m in 2008 and kissing up against $80m in 2009."

    Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. Red Hat actually makes money. Unlike Canonical. Given that staff costs are the highest cost for an industry like software where there's few fixed capital costs, it seems quite likely that a company which doesn't make money (Canonical) would be generating less revenue per head than one which does (like Red Hat), unless Canonical pays its staff waaaay more. Which I don't think it does.

    (disclaimer: I work for Red Hat).

  8. Neil Greatorex
    Thumb Up

    Re. PR crap-ola

    Buy from Novatech ( I do & have done for yonks.

    No MS tax. Yay.

    Quality is v. good & customer service second to none, oh, & they know about that Viral O/S

    Note: No affiliation, just a satisfied customer since 1991

  9. Cameron 2

    get the name right

    There's no such thing as "Debian Linux." It's "Debian GNU/Linux".

    1. Ben Holmes

      In other news...

      ...who cares? Given that this is a (mostly) technical site, people know what you mean when you say 'Debian'.

      There is a time for pedanticisms. This is not one of those times.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        You're forgetting...

        ..doesn't pedantery work best when it's *not* requested? This looks a perfectly valid pedant call here - obscure, technical, targets a minor detail and with undertones of pettiness and pomposity.


  10. gimbal
    Paris Hilton

    Let me be the first to openly admit, sirs,

    I had no idea that that kind of clout was behind Canonical. I think I'll have to give a hard second-thought about not so-far installing Ubuntu. Cheers, Debian, and Cheers, Canonical, I may be switching ships, there.

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