back to article Ubuntu will hit the big time on Amazon: Here's how

The cloud is the new operating system, and Amazon owns the cloud. Big iron vendors like IBM and HP are feeling the heat as workloads itch to move off expensive mainframes into Amazon's public cloud. Even Microsoft, the once undisputed king of the operating system, is under siege as its Seattle neighbor embraces and extends .NET …


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  1. Tim Brown 1


    That graph has to be one of the most confusing pieces of 'research' going. Ubuntu is shown as top, but then the second line down is 'linux'. What linux? All the major linux distributions have their own lines. Is it a sum of those? But Ubuntu is linux too...

    The original source site throws no light on the subject. There is also no explanation of how this data was derived.

    1. tgm

      Re: Huh?

      I think, but don't quote me on this, that "linux" is Amazons own AMI - which is just called "linux".

  2. Ogi

    What does Ubuntu offer? What is its unique selling point they can make money from?

    The article nicely points out how Red Hat makes its money, and also says that Ubuntu will not do it that way.

    So... how can Ubuntu make money? If they start charging for using the OS, surely places like Amazon etc... will just switch to another free OS, like Debian? That would require very little infra changes (e.g. I've switched between them many times). Does Ubuntu offer anything in particular that would prevent people just dumping it if they start charging?

    It's all well and good saying Ubuntu should start making money from the cloud deployments, but I don't see how they can do it, unless they write some sort of proprietary Ubuntu-only extensions/software geared towards cloud management, then perhaps. However I don't see that happening either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What does Ubuntu offer?

      I'm wondering this too.

      The software store is a start-but they probably only break even on that. The advantage to the consumer is simple: scaling works better than with RedHat. Once you've started using Ubuntu and got the training adding on extra laptops is free. Second advantage is fan base-more people know Ubuntu than Fedora. I think the kickbacks from the Dell programme might help them too. In the end they may just be able to fund development due to their scale-with Ubuntu based on Debian and Unity finished I suspect their costs are pretty low from now on. RHEL needs to invest in developing for its deployment on 'special' computers in a way Ubuntu doesn't.

      One big advantage that I've noticed is virtualisation. In my experience, Ubuntu runs flawlessly in VirtualBox with minimal attention in a way RH, Debian and Fedora just don't. So organising training sessions prior to changeover may be easier with Ubuntu.

      1. Ogi

        Re: What does Ubuntu offer?

        Out of curiosity? what problems did you have with virtualising Debian? I ask because we settled on virtualising all our old Debian servers (running on a Debian qemu/kvm host) and have not had a single problem with them. I've even moved to virtualising all my old servers (broken laptops mostly) into one single server at home, all worked flawlessly :).

        Virtualised some Ubuntu as well, and it was also painless.

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: What does Ubuntu offer?

          Also: Plan9, CentOS, gentoo, FreeBSD, and Minix 3 run quite decently; qemu/kvm on Debian is a quite acceptable virtualization platform.

          Haven't yet figured out what Ubuntu has to offer over native Debian, though.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Author can't understand anything but money

    The whole article is a paean to capitalism. Something that is free can't possibly remain top of the pile. there must be monetisation!

    The same logic would say that Ubuntu can't possibly exist, or indeed currently be top of the tree.

    Get a life

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Author can't understand anything but money

      I think the point is that if your business model - and we are talking about business, in case you didn't notice - is built on developing something, employing highly paid developers to do it and then funded by giving your product away for free, it's not going to last very long.

      Look at Premiership football - many teams are owned by zillionaires, they are excellent during the good times, but then the zillionaire decides that he's loosing too much money, so tries to make the club (at least partially) stand on its own two feet. The club then goes into administration. If Canonical doesn't generate money, Ubuntu will fail as a venture.

      1. DRendar

        Re: Author can't understand anything but money

        You mean 'losing', not 'loosing'.

      2. Michael Dunn

        Re: "Look at Premiership football"

        I think that the clubs actually stand on twenty-two feet!

  4. Blarkon

    Chromebook - Emperor of the Galaxy of Cloud Laptops

    The question is, can Ubuntu match the market share of the current reigning champion of the "Cloud is the Computer" - the Chromebook. We all know that the Chromebook can kick more buttock than a millipede with a headache, which is why it clearly dominates the client operating system market share stats.

    Can an Ubuntu cloud computer going to be able to compete with the monolithic success of the Chromebook?

  5. Mahou Saru

    I guess one area would be certification/training

    I think the more popular Ubuntu becomes on the server side the greater the demand for certification and training which Canonical could capitalise on. Also the more certified Ubuntumins out there, could help with more adoption so it would be a win win situation.

  6. paulc

    Stupid Question...

    OK, they're running instances of Linux up there on the cloud... but what are they running inside those instances of Linux? Are they just using them as virtual LAMP servers?

    Personally, I've not seen the attraction of the cloud...

  7. manu ^^


    Tech support is one of the most feasible starting points for Canonical's business model. One could think that Amazon has their own IT experts, but my experience working at a security software provider is that, most of the time, companies choose to call tech support to officialize their issues with the product or service, and then be legally safeguarded with the provided solution, regardless its effectiveness. This way, Amazon purchases its peace of mind at the price Canonical stipulates.

  8. Bernard

    My sense

    is that this article and its author fall into the trap that says 'the field in which I work is the WHOLE WORLD' fallacy.

    Sure Amazon are growing great guns and by many estimates have nearly a billion in revenue now, but nearly a billion is still a tiny slice of the overall software, hardware and services market and they'll find the headwinds much stronger moving forward.

    It's a fascinating business, but people are turned off by the silly sleight of hand which starts with defining 'cloud' so broadly that my old black and white tv is part of it, then identifying Amazon as the runaway leader of a much smaller market and so concluding that they're poised to dominate the world.

    If we're playing that game then I own a Samsung Galaxy, and the Galaxy is also a giant collection of stars, so as the Owner of the Galaxy I'm an important person who should be listened to.

  9. tillm

    Cloud & Big Old Corporations

    ..don't mix. At least the super-corpo I am currently working with has an explicit policy of "all data must be inside our perimeter". Which often means on Laptops, as the corporate data center is outrageously expensive.

    They would not even allow for storing data strongly encrypted in the cloud. So AWS ? Probably only when they are getting badly squeezed in some kind of nasty downturn. But even then, I doubt it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cloud & Big Old Corporations

      Agree, it is not that corporations will not use the "cloud" in general (they can't get enough of's SaaS model), they just won't use Amazon's version of it. Amazon does not have enterprise security or any data governance. It is amateur night for web hosting.

    2. MacGyver
      IT Angle

      Re: Cloud & Big Old Corporations

      No, first they will move all of their services to "The Cloud" because that is what "The Wall Street Journal" says all up and coming CEOs are doing despite the warnings from their IT department, then when the service goes down, they'll get pissed-off that the world doesn't work the way they want it to, and move everything back to their central office, after losing a lot of time and money in the process. Virtualized cloud services==Thin-clients; been there, done that, bought the vampire-taps. A single point of failure, is still a single point of failure, whether that is the internet a a whole, or just the power at your ISP, or the fiber lines that Cletus pulls up in his back yard when digging a septic tank. At least when your IT fails now, you can still mostly work, try that when nobody in your building can bring up their Office 365. "The Cloud" is stupid, and time will show that, oh wait, it did already.

      Oh and Ubuntu, Unity sucks, but so does Gnome 3, so I guess it doesn't matter. It's clear that young men that wear skinny jeans and enjoy reading Twilight are now designing our GUIs.

  10. tillm


    From their website:

    "We've come a long way since our launch in 2004. We now have over 400 staff in more than 30 countries, and offices in London, Boston, Taipei, Montreal, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and the Isle of Man."

    It appears to me that Mr Shuttleworth is a highly skilled businessman and that he would not expand to 400 staffers if he were losing money. I guess he is already raking it in big-time just on the support contracts they have. Or maybe it is the OEM business. But surely he is not subsidizing 400 well-paid people just for the sake of Linux.

    Just look at the list of their job openings and it becomes clear that they don't need any advice on how to make money:

    Rather, it appears that this is the European Redhat In The Making. Just that they also aim for the hearts of MS and Apple. Mr Shuttleworth is a shrewd guy....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ubuntu will hit big time on Amazon

    Really Soon Now. The year right after The Year Of The Linux Desktop.

  12. Dare to Think
    IT Angle

    Is Matt Asay's column ghost written?

    Nice words about already known facts, gently flowing around open source. Spot on when it comes to trends. And very much the quality of and essay from a reporter. Discuss in 500 words.

    But nothing of CIO level.

    Real hitters would be subjects like this:

    TCO is just a marketing ploy, an aspirational estimate, literally fluff in your mind, stretchable as you see fit.

    A CIO should actually be the CFO with technical knowledge, and ask his suppliers to commit to financial targets and penalties.

    External clouds are just cool, but very expensive - building the cloud in house reduces the cost of CPU, memory and storage units to pennies - here is the proof, etc.

  13. Denarius Silver badge

    well to disagree a little

    RH support ? Nice idea if it existed as a working unit like the old HP, IBM or Sun help desks. In my small experience it wasted a week not answering my question. Neither did google ;-) At least detailed Debian/Ubuntu answers are there in the docs or google.

    As for cloud, still have my doubts. Private clouds maybe, but what does the corporation get that a VMWare farm or virtualbox does not give you already ? Lastly, having seen the new desktops from Gnome and Ubuntu there will never be a year of the linux desktop, unless M$ succeed in making their OS even more user hostile.

  14. John Sanders

    Year of Linux

    Is coming, it is just not going to happen like people think.

    The Android kernel and the regular kernel version will eventually merge, by the time that is happened, Android will have such a large software library that putting 2+2 together will become so evident that either google or someone else will release an Android framework to make Android apps run in Linux next to regular apps.

    At that time you have cracked two of the biggest Linux problems hampering the adoption for commercial development in linux, the package format and the OS level fragmentation.

    Suddenly you do not release .deb or .rpm for your commercial app or game, you release .apks your app running on the Android framework relies on the Dalwik VM so your little accounting package suddenly runs everywhere from tablets to phones to desktop computers.

    It is not hard to see that happening.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The main thrust of the article was about monetising software, with the primary question being how can it be achieved? However, I strongly believe that this concern is one that will prove to be a transient issue and will ultimately become irrelevant in the not to distant future.

    This will not be because of open-source factors, or because splitting the hardware and the software into two entirely different businesses means that neither business can exist without that fragile symbiotic relationship with the other, but because the fundamental idea of software being produced by people is flawed.

    In the not to distant future (and it could actually be done now) all software will be produced by AIs. These AI agents wouldn't need to be as 'clever' as IBM's Watson or need to simulate sentience but would start by just have the ability to correlate simple and well established sets of rules and logic to derive not only better versions of themselves but also applications and hardware drivers. However, as they're doing this they'll also end up deriving new sets of rules and logic which will be shared amongst each other and fed back into this self-development loop.

    I would argue that monetisation of such a system cannot work without limiting its functionality, which is fundamentally at odds with how it must work.

    Yes, it does sound a bit like the Skynet system in the Terminator films, but supposing that it will inevitably spontaneously develop a human-hating sentience and then try to destroy all the wet-ware is no more rational than believing in magic.

    In any case, it's inevitable.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


      Machines writing software to logical rules is quite practice, the problem then is you need to define those logical rules to be complete and in-turn with what you actually *want* the system to do.

      For simpler systems you already have this and it works quite well (e.g. MATLAB's code generation option to produce C/Ada/etc from a block diagram simulation system).

      But although this may avoid simple coding errors, I think you will find that it is no easier (in fact possibly harder) to formalise a large complex system in strict logical terms, than to allow humans to fill in the gaps of the specification as they develop it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @LeeE

        Humans aren't very good at dealing with large complex systems either so we tend to reduce them to hierarchies of many less complex systems. The trouble is that neither are we very good at keeping track of hierarchies of of many small and less complex systems, whereas computers are.

        In addition to logical rules, and other learning systems, I'd also expect an implementation of Darwinian evolution to be incorporated; take a functional block of code, randomly modify it, check whether it still works. If it doesn't work at all or doesn't work better then discard it and try something else. Terribly wasteful, just like the real thing, but with the majority of cores in the current generation of multi-core cpus doing nothing for most of the time, and considering the speed at which they work, software development based upon random mutation could work relatively quickly, at least in human terms.

        ...and I haven't even mentioned running the AIs on arrays of FPGAs, which they could also reconfigure.

        And oh yes, as some who has developed quite a lot of software, over quite a few decades, I'm not sure that letting developers fill in the gaps of a specification as they develop the software is a good way to produce what was required in the first place. Heh, not that I'm going to claim that getting a complete specification to start from is easy either.

        1. tillm

          Oh Yeah, Powered by One-Horns

          ..and I forgot the Pixie Dust. AI has been and is a PORK-SCAM by some MIT bloodsuckers like Marvin Minsky. Or should I call him a Funding Whore ? This man predicted that by 2010 machines would be more intelligent than humans.

          Just try out Google translate and you will see how much machine "intelligence" there is. Very little to nothing. Translating requires A) transforming sentences from the source language into a mental model and B) "rendering" that model into the target language. All these souped-up little statistical, shitty approaches never resemble anything which could be called a "model".

          AI has been specifically invented by MIT to suck in money so that these pinky liberals could play with computers and pursue their social engineering desires. Achieved they have nothing except GNU and Lisa. The former is useful while the latter displays the SCAM. But GNU is not about AI, it is about run-of-the-mill software released in the open and free as speech etc.

          So AI == Pinko-Liberal codeword for Sucking Money Out Of Others Using Computers.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oh Yeah, Powered by One-Horns

            Hmm... only 5/10 for this rather perfunctory effort.

            Whilst you've managed to combine inaccuracy, irrelevance, paranoia and a meaningless acronym (SMOOOUC) into a single post adequately well there aren't nearly enough random and unnecessarily capitalised words to clearly convey the shouting. The result is that the corresponding mental images that should be induced in the mind of the reader, of you 'frothing at the mouth' and the resultant 'foam specked spittle running down your screen', are almost entirely absent.

            In summary, you come across as being far too calm and composed, and don't really seem to be trying.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You lost me at...

    "Microsoft, the once undisputed king of the operating system." Who says stuff like that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You lost me at...

      Microsoft... and people who think the server world is the same as their PC world.

  17. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  18. RonWheeler

    cheap commoditization of trendy cloudyness until

    ....until another big name failsafe brand comes along. The Cisco/HP/VMWare/MS axis of the cloud that IT directors will not vote against as it is the 'safe' choice. Inevitable certification and people who are invested in the status-quo sounding like experts.


    ubuntu need to get a bunch of crooks, er, experts certified in their stuff tho make it profitable otherwise Amazon pocket the cash.

  19. CHRoNoSS

    welcome to the attempted scam called cloud

    that's all it is DON'T BE FOOLED, its a scam , how you say? LOOK at whom is pushing it around the world and i mean the people saying it. THEY often are unsavory capitalistic scammers that will do anything for a buck as long as it involves NO WORK.

    the cloud is storage somewhere not in your control. SORRY that's not only NOT new its dangerous for companies to "get on board to it and think your stuff is safe"

    last time i give a warnign cause after this you deserve what you get.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: welcome to the attempted scam called cloud

      A good effort: 8.75/10

      Nice abusage of capitalisation throughout the piece, and the extra spaces before the comma in the very first sentence, after "scam", were a very nice and subtle touch, worth 0.5 bonus points, as was your intermittent grammar, which was worth another 0.25 bonus points (I've added both bonuses to your total overall score).

      However, I had to dock you two points because you forgot about spelling and only added a token gesture right at the end, almost as an afterword, when you should have spotted the rather obvious opportunity to use 'FOLLED' right at the beginning, and because your very first word had a correctly placed omissive apostrophe. It is also of some concern to see that you included fullstops at the end of nearly every sentence; as you are well aware this is covered in the very first lesson so I'll put this aberration down to the undoubted stress of learning but you must ensure that it never happens again.

      All in all though, not bad, grasshopper.

  20. steeplejack


    Rubbish for two reasons. Firstly, the hyperlink where it says that Ubuntu is doing better than Red Hat as a cloud OS goes to an article that says the exact opposite. Ubuntu have suggested that, and been vigorously disputed. Secondly, the graph here is clearly rubbish created by someone who doesn't know operating systems.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is impossible to write about the "cloud" without making a fool of yourself


    What are you writing about? Ubuntu is Linux. Not some non-Linux category of its own. Ubuntu is not out performing RHEL by any stretch of the imagination.

    You write that Amazon is somehow competing with MS by running Windows Server, MS SQL, .NET, etc in their cloud. That is like saying that HP competes with MS because people run MS Server on their hardware. As long as Amazon keeps paying for MS licenses, I am sure Redmond hopes they are very successful.

    I don't see how running Linux on premise vs. the magical water vapor will make any difference in the migration of "mainframe" workloads (by which you seem to mean Unix and mini-server (AS/400, VMS)... but do not mention mainframe, z/OS). One of the key benefits of proprietary is the higher level of security and data governance. Amazon has absolutely horrid data security and governance.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Name one...

    user that has migrated from Unix (any variety), AS/400, VMS, or z/OS to Amazon. I have never heard of one. Amazon is almost entirely for web hosting, file serving and other commodity tasks, i.e. people moving from an on premise Linux or Windows server to Amazon. Unix servers are used for running workloads like Oracle or DB2 for SAP. I am not familiar with a company running anything mission critical on AWS. This article is Amazon propaganda.

  23. Alan Bourke

    "The cloud is the new operating system"


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