Ubuntu is THE ‘Linux Home Desktop’ distro; now onto the desktop wars

Just added another comment to Ubuntu Bug #1:

Two years ago Michael Dell said:


“People are always asking us to support Linux on the desktop, but the question is: ‘Which Linux are you talking about?’ If we say we like Ubuntu, then people will say we picked the wrong one. If we say we like and support Ubuntu, Novell, Red Hat, and Xandros, then someone would ask us, ‘Why don’t you support Mandriva? The challenge we have with picking one is that we think we’d disenchant the other distributions’ supporters. It’s not that there are too many Linux desktop distributions, it’s that they’re all different, they all have supporters, and none of them can claim a majority of the market. If you look at DistroWatch, you’ll see zillions of these distributions. Which one should we do? And, everyone keeps telling us that they want different distributions. So, our conclusion is to do them all and let the customer decide.”

A year ago they started selling Ubuntu systems.

[Update: right now, “sales of Linux on Dell computers continue to grow“]

Today I read this:

No Consumer Linux from Novell or Red Hat

Basically, Novell and Red Hat won’t be trying to get consumer desktop market share, focusing instead only on the ‘enterprise’ desktop market; Fedora and openSUSE thus appear to be relegated to ‘hobbyist OS’ level.  Ubuntu is now THE distro of choice for home use, with no major competitors, but I think we’ve known that for some time:

fedora debian ubuntu suse mandriva

(note that we’re due for a big bump in the search results in about a week :)

So going forward with Hardy, its time to focus on a new trend graph:

xp vista ubuntu apple

:-)

XP is on its way out; Vista is mediocre at best and an excellent example of bloatware, but still has inertia helping it along; OS X is tied to Apple’s hardware, so the mid-to-high end of the market.

There’s going to be a tipping point soon; the “race to the bottom” that Sony, et al are terrified of: $300 (or less) sub-notebooks and similar devices.

That’s not Apple’s market.  Vista won’t run on them.  XP, even discounted, would add a significant percentage cost.

Then there’s Ubuntu :)

I hope to see Hardy Heron really take flight and see some Ubuntu preloads from new sources this year.  On store shelves for Christmas would be nice :)

[Update April 25: Hardy was released yesterday; go grab your copy! :]

Update May 20: Apple now makes two-thirds of all PCs that are $1000 or more!  Looks like they’ve won the high-end of the market.  Also of note, Ubuntu has set a time schedule for LTS point releases (the first comes 3 months after a LTS release, followed every six months until the next LTS release) and confirmed that the next LTS release will be in April 2010 (unless Linux vendors decide to synchronize releases…)

Update June 11: And here’s Ubuntu looking to fuel the ‘race to the bottom':

Mark Shuttleworth, who runs Ubuntu’s distribution arm Canonical, says top PC makers are turning to him to help build out the next generation Internet notebook devices, or “netbooks.”

In a Monday item on his blog, Shuttleworth provides more detail about the effort, what the technology aims to do, and how it aims to do it.

“The Canonical OEM team has been approached by a number of OEM’s who want to sell netbooks (small, low-cost laptops with an emphasis on the web) based on Ubuntu,” Shuttleworth writes. “Almost universally, they’ve asked for standard Ubuntu packages and updates, with an app launcher that’s more suited to new users and has the feeling of a ‘device’ more than a PC.”

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13 Responses to “Ubuntu is THE ‘Linux Home Desktop’ distro; now onto the desktop wars”

  1. Oli Says:

    Search requests are an extremely fuzzy metric, at best.

    You could argue they show lots of users searching for support topics. You could negate that saying that a better platform would get fewer such requests.

    You could say they show lots of people interested in a platform/product; and again one could negate that by saying they’re existing users looking for support.

    To use these figures to say anything more than “this is what people are searching for”, you need data showing why they’re searching on that keyword, be that support or just plain intrigue.

    I happen to completely agree that Ubuntu offers the best structure for home users. It has an awe-inspiring release schedule and a good batch of improvements are pushed out each cycle.

    I just don’t think you can use these figures to show or disprove that as a popular trend.

  2. apokryphos Says:

    > Basically, Novell and Red Hat won’t be trying to get consumer desktop market share, focusing instead only on the ‘enterprise’ desktop market

    There has been no such statement from Novell, only from Red Hat. Novell are still employing more Linux desktop developers than anyone else.

  3. aussie Says:

    Distro wars? Desktop wars?

    Aren’t you making something out of nothing?

  4. JohnMc Says:

    First I use Kubuntu on all our home machinery and love it. But, conquest of mindshare, which is what you are reporting, is a far cry from what I define as enterprise success. Couple of markers —

    1/ Go out into the VPS hosting market. Who are the big players? Red Hat/Centos. Ubuntu server comes in a distant 5th.

    2/ Red Hat has a clear lock on the enterprise business server market.

    3/ Desktop plays are quite different and even here would someone want to really want to play the consumer franchise?

    Red Hat has a clear mission — expand and support Red Hat Linux as a business based server and desktop system. Yes, they do have a RH Desktop but only serve it to business. The play they are making is to support the enterprises than can manage their own shops with Linux and only tap RH for 3rd level support needs. IT keeps the 1st and 2nd level calls. Simple, managable and cost effective.

    Dell seems to be the biggest player at the consumer level. But they have only been at it for a year so I would consider the jury stil out as a business model. We’ll see how it goes.

    Personally I would like to see 4-5 distros be successful. It fosters good competition and innovation. It also gives the customer an exit strategy if somebody like a Ubuntu was to stub their toe.

  5. Miguel Says:

    I think you’re making wrong conclusions. I don’t think Ubuntu ‘has won the distro war’. According to all data I’ve read all along this last years, I don’t think Ubuntu can claim more than the 20% of REAL installations. Indeed, I think no single distro can claim so, even more, I don’t think any distro can claim more than the 15% of the Linux share. Obviously, in Google Trends one can clearly see that Ubuntu has a lot o ‘media’ coverage but this is only a flash of how much is talked about Ubuntu compared to (other distro/OS). So, when you say ‘Ubuntu is now THE distro of choice for home use, with no major competitors’ I think this is a wish more than a fact. I don’t think there is such an amount of ‘home’ users of Linux out there but people who had already some medium/advanced knowledge of computing, and those are not necessarily going go with ‘mainstream’.

  6. Limulus Says:

    apokryphos wrote:

    >> Basically, Novell and Red Hat won’t be trying to get consumer desktop market share, focusing instead only on the ‘enterprise’ desktop market

    >There has been no such statement from Novell, only from Red Hat. Novell are still employing more Linux desktop developers than anyone else.

    Actually, from the linked article, which was titled “No Consumer Linux from Novell or Red Hat”:

    “During a tour of the company’s new engineering center in India, [Novell] CEO Ron Hovsepian said, “The market for the desktop for the next three to five years is mainly enterprise-related.””

    Regarding my point, it matters not if Novell is “still employing more Linux desktop developers than anyone else”; they are not going to put much effort into the home Desktop market, while Ubuntu is.

    Anyway, some more data points:

    http://www.desktoplinux.com/articles/AT5816278551.html

    http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS8454912761.html

    claiming ~30% Ubuntu usage in their surveys for 2006 and 2007.

    aussie wrote: “Distro wars? Desktop wars? Aren’t you making something out of nothing?”

    If, in 2003, I wrote that IE would be facing serious trouble in the following years from an upstart based on the corpse of Netscape, I would have had to argue the point too. We know what’s happened since then:

    http://limulus.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/w3schools-march-data/

    Right now Microsoft has the vast majority of Desktop market share. But Vista was a dud and there is a genuine resurgence in desire for alternatives. Apple is doing really well right now. Dell sales of Ubuntu systems are doing quite well apparently:

    http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9077678&intsrc=hm_list

    I see these things as evidence of a ‘crack in the dam’ of MS’ monopoly.

    JohnMc: I wasn’t arguing about “enterprise success” at all; I was specifically talking about the home market that Red Hat is avoiding :)

  7. Goodbye Gentoo, I'm back with Ubuntu | The TIW Blog Says:

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  8. markharrison Says:

    Interestingly, Ubuntu seems to be synonymous with “Linux” among the Tier 2 retailers in the UK.

    I needed a new cheap server last week, so I ordered one from a UK etailer – it cost about £165 including VAT and delivery, and came with a keyboard and mouse, but no monitor. Frankly, I didn’t need the keyboard or mouse either, but there was no way to unbundle.

    I’m intending to install Ubuntu Server (LTS) on it, so really wasn’t worried about what it came with – the headline just read “Linux”…

    … as it happens, it seems to have come with Ubuntu desktop anyway. Presumably, this information was buried somewhere in the small print on the site but, as I said, the distro that came pre-shipped was immaterial to me.

    What I find really interesting is that this box is intended to replace _four_ older servers – a mix of aggregation and virtualisation – and £165 hardware cost does the trick for a small business.

  9. Caleb Cushing Says:

    Interesting since distro implies server and embedded as well. In which case ubuntu has won nothing. I recommend against using it on the server.

  10. Limulus Says:

    Caleb Cushing: Point taken; I’ll change the title to reflect ‘Home Desktop’

  11. Ubuntu has won the distro wars; now onto the desktop wars - TechEnclave Says:

    […] People are always asking us to support Linux on the desktop, but the question is: Which Linux are you talking about? If we say we like Ubuntu, then people will say we picked the wrong one. If we say we like and support Ubuntu, Novell, Red Hat, and Xandros, then someone would ask us, Why dont you support Mandriva? The challenge we have with picking one is that we think wed disenchant the other distributions supporters. Its not that there are too many Linux desktop distributions, its that theyre all different, they all have supporters, and none of them can claim a majority of the market. If you look at DistroWatch, youll see zillions of these distributions. Which one should we do? And, everyone keeps telling us that they want different distributions. So, our conclusion is to do them all and let the customer decide. http://www.google.com/trends/viz?q=F…mg&ctab=2&sa=N http://www.google.com/trends/viz?q=X…mg&ctab=2&sa=N Read More : Ubuntu is THE ‘Linux Home Desktop’ distro; now onto the desktop wars Limulus […]

  12. Ubuntu the Other Desktop Contender? « LoCo About Ubuntu! Says:

    […] Other Desktop Contender? Ubuntu the new desktop (not Linux desktop) contender?  Several other people believe […]

  13. The march to 2010 « Limulus Says:

    […] the realities on the ground are that Apple has pretty much captured the high-end market and today I read that Ubuntu has won a […]

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