If I had a magic wand, I would take Novell’s resources and Ubuntu’s (Canonical) vision and see the birth of a single Linux product. Each entity has half of it right and the other half of it totally wrong. Novell understands the needs of the enterprise situation while Ubuntu has the DPKG system for software. I am sorry SuSE fans, but RPMs are like bad seafood – great until you end up with a rotten serving. Every instance of SuSE I have ever used up to 10.1 has been great until you want to install updates. Continuing on…
Ubuntu, while a fun distro, leaves Canonical clueless as to why it’s still not making any real money. It’s not the product – Ubuntu is fantastic choice for those who understand what it is and isn’t. But Canonical still fails to understand the enterprise market for the desktop does, indeed, belong to Novell and Red Hat. Both of these companies have spent tons of time and cold hard cash investigating shortcomings that they might be able to offer some relief with. Competing distros are simply not in a viable position to enter the enterprise market at this stage in the game. Call it a lack of resources and the yet-to-become-apparent business savvy. At the end of the day, the numbers of enterprise users using Novell and Red Hat speak for themselves.
On the flip side of this, Ubuntu has mopped the floor with otherwise decent distros such as Linspire/Freespire within the home user market. To be fair, Linspire did succeeded in making the bundling of open and proprietary software palatable even to a cynic such as myself. It’s just too bad that it has a record of not taking care of a consistently crashing sound system within its Linux offering.
All right, so how does all of this really break down? It comes down to this: Ubuntu is sharing the home desktop market equally with OpenSuSE. Linspire/Freespire is hardly a blip on the radar any longer, so it remains more of a niche within a market. Ubuntu and OpenSuSE rule the desktop domain with Fedora tagging along very closely.
Red Hat and SuSE (SLED 10) are masters of the enterprise desktop Linux realm. I have watched Ubuntu and Mandriva try and make some headway here, but Mandriva simply does not have the wow-factor that it once did. As for Ubuntu, well, it is still trying to define where it fits into the enterprise market at this point.
What’s interesting is the constant here with Novell and Red Hat. Both entities have open properties that they support within the desktop realm, whereas Ubuntu only offers its version of a non-commercial product.
What does this mean? In order for Ubuntu to be taken seriously within the enterprise realm, it will need Canonical to bite the bullet and take the Red Hat/SLED 10 approach to providing the enterprise user what they need. Granted, the support that Canonical is offering is great. But it will need a commercial grade Linux product to back this up. It’s as simple as that.
So will this happen or is this already happening? To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe so. If I am wrong, please fill me in on any details that I may have missed in the comments area above.