In a recent article published on CodingExperiments.com, it was noticed that the search term “Ubuntu” was coming closer to passing the term “Linux” on Google’s search engine. Many wondered why and several complained that Ubuntu was becoming “Linux.” So, why is this?
Here’s why: new Linux users are using Ubuntu.
Ubuntu has become the most popular distribution around, and as a result, people who like Ubuntu are giving it out to new users. Even folks who may use other distributions may give a new user an Ubuntu CD, just because Ubuntu is the easiest to install and use. Then, to all these new users, Ubuntu has become your generic Linux distribution. Thus, Ubuntu = Linux. Strange? Not for your average new user. It just makes sense, like Windows or Mac. Ubuntu has become the face of Linux.
Now, the reason that new users are using Linux is in part to the fact that Ubuntu users, or LoCo teams, are actively spreading Linux to new users. Notice that there are no other distributions that are spreading Linux like Ubuntu. Thousands of volunteers (in the U.S. alone) work to spread Ubuntu Linux to the masses. My little CD stand has already distributed close to 500 CDs. Now that’s what I call progress!
The fact is other distributions are not doing enough to make their name known. Several, such as Fedora or OpenSUSE, have the resources to start something similar to Ubuntu’s own LoCo effort, but have yet to try something so ambitious.
Another question comes to mind when thinking about Ubuntu = Linux:
Is it good for Linux?
In my mind, there are two groups who use Linux — those who want Linux to make it to the mass market, and those who don’t. Those who do support the idea of having Linux enter the mainstream market support Ubuntu or one of the other top two distributions. Others who would rather keep Linux to the local geek base, and create forks whenever they have a disagreement with someone in their particular distribution. For this to make sense, you have to look at it realistically.
For one, there can’t be 500+ options running around in the mainstream desktop market. It’s just not going to happen. Even three top distributions mainstream in the desktop market may be too much. Second, those who want desktop Linux to become mainstream jump behind Ubuntu, the Linux leader with the best potential to succeed. If Ubuntu was not positioned to take the lead for Linux in the mainstream market with Windows and Mac, then I probably would not be supporting it, or even would not have begun to support it. So for me, if Ubuntu equals Linux, it’s a good thing. New users are not overwhelmed by alternatives, and have a professional, easy to use system for their computers. Over time, they will learn that Ubuntu is not the only Linux distribution (once they figure out what a distribution is…) and will maybe try some others.