Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Misunderstandings of Mark Shuttleworth

Matt Asay had a mild critique of Mark Shuttleworth to which I responded in the comments. Read Matt's critique first, and then I'll repost below what I wrote there:

I think his [Mark's] main point is that it's difficult to get a polished, end-user friendly product out of the other guys. I agree that the "going from shrink-wrap to shrink-wrap" is a bogus comment, but I don't think that was the real point. The real point is that he's slamming other community editions and stating that Ubuntu is a better supported and more polished community distro.

I happen to agree - not because Ubuntu is perfect, which it certainly is not, but because I'm a former Fedora user who was ultimately frustrated by the lack of devotion to something that actually worked for end-users.

I agree that Red Hat has every right to charge for services and must do that in order to survive. I think Mark is just trying to position Ubuntu favorably against the other guys. Whether he's successful at that is another question. IMHO, Linux supporters and distros will have to work very very hard to offer a compelling reason for Windows users and sysadmins to switch, and I don't feel that the current tactics of either Red Hat or Novell do that. In my mind, they have to have a compelling community edition in order to seed the earth in preparation for enterprise upselling.

I have long been a proponent of Ubuntu's community-based approach, mostly because I feel that the larger distributions get it wrong and aren't really helping win more market share for Linux.

Viva la Ubuntu!

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