Thursday, February 16, 2012

Has Canonical Lost the Plot?

For those not in the know, Canonical is the commercial company behind Ubuntu. They sell services.

They've announced "Ubuntu Business Remix". You have to register to download it. This is for licensing reasons on some of the components included.

The problem I have with it though - What's the point?

Every time you have to set up a computer, you install an OS, remove the bits you don't want, install the bits you do want. What advantage does a business remix have? It doesn't include games. It's got a few bits that require registration.

What if, instead, Canonical concentrated on something like "kickstart"? Kickstart is a way of configuring an installation of RedHat for mass deployments. Throw in a directory service (ldap - basically an equivalent to Microsoft Active Directory) and you're probably really close to what a business is likely to want/need. Even though I think this is an outdated model. It has the advantage over Redhat in that the users can run EXACTLY the same system at home with all the branding and bits they feel comfortable with.

A bit of infrastructure - an Ubuntu branded PXE (Preboot eXecution Environment - booting from a network server) server. Allowing some controls on the repositories i.e. allow the users the freedom to install what they need to work in the way they're comfortable (allowing users their choice of web browser for example) while allowing some applications to be blacklisted such as Drugwars. GUI based configuration tools to be able to do some of those more business orientated things like policies.

Linux has the advantage over Windows in that it's module system is more robust i.e. you're less likely to find that your computer crashes because a driver/module is on the system that isn't needed for your system. Boot times are drastically reduced. Things are customizable to a much greater degree meaning you can work in a way you're comfortable with. Things like hardware drivers tend to get more stable, rather than less (as manufacturers lose interest in supporting order products. How many times do people buy new printers because their old one is no longer supported in a newer version of Windows?).

So hey - there's a real opportunity here for Canonical. However, I think it's in the tools, not in a remix.

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