With the problems of Vista, the end of the availability of XP, and the lack of Apple to see the light and open up OS X to non-Apple hardware, much is expected of the next release of the most popular consumer Linux distribution. The release expected in April is code named Hardy Heron, and it is not by accident that this release includes more than passing reference to being ‘ready for the big show’. If Heron is indeed hardy, it could be the most important release of any non-Microsoft operating system ever.

With so many disgusted by the poor performance of Vista, and Microsoft’s poor efforts at removing the problems with that OS, it remains to be seen how the purchases of many will shake out over this year.  Many who don’t have large hardware investments may make the jump to the sanity of Apple and OS X. Others will not want to sell or give away older hardware that is networked in their houses, and will also not want to give up the ability to tinker with both hardware and software.

Ubuntu has shown such progress that many already use it occasionally, and it will only take a small nudge to get them in the habit of constant use. Once a level of comfort is established, the user base will grow beyond the expectations of anyone. As I’ve spoken to people who use any flavor of Linux, I’ve been given the idea that each user has the feeling that things are going great with Ubuntu, but that as they near any edge of knowledge, a small problem could send that user into a dark hole from which there is no recovery. Just the ability to ‘look it up’ with a hard copy would ameliorate much tension.

For those who wish for something to do about changing adoption rates in a positive direction, a good start would be work on a book that would make the underpinnings understood by the novice user. If you remember the days of MS DOS, many people purchased copies of a book called ‘Running MS-DOS’ to learn how to maneuver through the command line and syntax of the operating system. If a similar tome were written about Ubuntu, explaining the basics, yet treating the reader as ignorant but intelligent, many converts would be had. Also to remember for prospective authors – each time a change to the OS was made, a new book, incorporating the changes and explaining how the OS was affected was released, with lots of new purchases.

In the meantime, Hardy Heron is amazingly workable with little to no knowledge of what lies beneath the pretty face. With each iteration, Linux in general gets better, and makes an easier sell for the uninitiated. Lack of driver support used to be a reason for staying with Microsoft products, but with many having to purchase new equipment for use with Vista, simply because an agreement cannot be reached between Microsoft and the manufacturers, it no longer is clear how Microsoft is a better software solution.

Ubuntu shows how the open source community has concern for the average user with its Long Term Support versions. This means that active revisioning will take place for at least  three years, and after that time, the operating system doesn’t disappear, but remains available for those who are happy with it. No ‘change for the sake of change’ pervades the Linux camp. Getting things to work better is the motivator.

Since Ubuntu is free, and not difficult to obtain (for all, as obtaining a copy is as easy as asking for a CD to be sent), giving Hardy Heron a try at the end of April might be one of the best things you do for yourself this year. 

[tags] Ubuntu, Hardy Heron, Linux, Running MS-DOS, Vista, April 24 [tags]