Ubuntu seems to be becoming ever more mainstream, with new users coming to the system every day. There are signs that Ubuntu is becoming “Linux” in and of itself. Now, technically speaking, Ubuntu is not Linux, it’s just based on Linux, and Debian, although the popularity of Ubuntu makes it almost seem like it’s “Linux,” and Linux is referring to Ubuntu.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, a blogger over at ZDNet has been noticing an interesting trend. He has been noticing that new users of Linux and Ubuntu, are confusing the two, calling Linux “Ubuntu” and vice-versa. You can read his post here.
Ubuntu is very popular these days, more popular than any distribution to date, as far as the number of users are concerned. I agree with Adrian; Ubuntu becoming the generic distribution, especially in the eyes of newcomers, will only help Linux succeed. Ubuntu provides more for the end user than most other distributions, as far as a quality user experience is concerned. Ease of use, application availability, a reliable release cycle, ability to be installed inside of Windows, all of which make a better experience for new users.
Of course, not everyone is happy with the success of Ubuntu, because there are many people who have fought for the acclaimed “Year of the Desktop” where Linux takes over the market, while trying to give users some obscure distribution in order to reach that goal. Finally, there is a singular fighting force that can introduce new users to Linux in a professional and easy way. Sometimes, you just have to support one distribution so that it can succeed, and avoid the in-fighting of multiple distributions, which only leads to confusion for someone looking through roughly 350 random distributions to try. For those people who are angry with Ubuntu’s success (read: jealous), people will try their distribution, it is only a matter of time.
I have placed my efforts for promoting Ubuntu, not just on the web via this blog, but through a LoCo team, where I help organize events, give out free CDs through a CD stand at a local bookstore, and help new users with working on their new system. It is these kinds of efforts that make Ubuntu popular, not just to those who read “Dig” or “Slashdot,” but those who are everyday, average folks. If you want to get involved, LoCo teams are a great way to go. I have written about them before over at All About Ubuntu. I believe that Ubuntu has the greatest potential for mainstream adoption. More users equals better support, better applications, and a better system with every release.
Ubuntu is becoming the system with what I call the “complete” experience. By that, I mean that Ubuntu has a system for desktops, servers, and mobile devices, just as Microsoft which has versions for desktops, servers, and mobile devices or even Apple for that matter. All of the versions of Ubuntu means that your average user’s needs are taken care of, either on the desktop, at work, or on the go. The various distribution variants of Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Edubuntu) all have their own special purpose and user base, and they give users the choice for what works best for them, while still keeping that ease of use classic to Ubuntu.
See this article (courtesy of eWeek) for a peek into what Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s founder and SABDFL (Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator For Life) has to say about Ubuntu’s future. I especially like the part about an Ubuntu-powered PDA. An Ubuntu Mobile device is going to bring together that “complete” experience that I mentioned earlier.
Ubuntu has a bright future, and will most likely lead Linux into the mainstream, and I’m just fine with Ubuntu becoming the generic Linux desktop. For those who can’t stand that thought, new users will learn, it’s only a matter of time, but for now Ubuntu is the best chance that Linux has at ever becoming a viable alternative for mainstream users. The most exciting part for me is knowing that I will be there to watch and participate in Ubuntu’s rise to form the third viable operating system in the mainstream market next with Windows and Mac OS X.