Canonical — the commercial outfit behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution — is offering a version of the open source operating system meant specifically for desktop PCs inside the world’s businesses.
“Ubuntu has been hot-rodded for business,” says Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon.
It’s called Ubuntu Business Desktop Remix, and according to Bacon, there’s a growing need for it. Many companies, he says, are looking to use the OS on the desktop because they already use it on the server. Plus, he adds, “Doing business with Microsoft or Apple is expensive.”
Canonical’s Business Desktop Remix is configured with the tools the company already sees its community using, including the Adobe Flash Plugin, the VMware View virtual desktop tool, and the OpenJDK 6 Java run-time environment. Meanwhile, the release does away with social networking and file sharing applications, games, and development and sysadmin tools.
“Having a common starting point, or booting straight into a business-oriented image makes it easier for institutional users to evaluate Ubuntu Desktop for their specific needs,” read a blog post from Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth. Canoncial is a for-profit company that sponsors Ubuntu and makes its money by selling auxiliary service and support packages for Ubuntu releases.
Quietly, Ubuntu has risen to the top of the Linux charts since its first release in 2004. In a recent Members Choice Award, Ubuntu (21.83 percent of votes) barely edged out Slackware (21.60 percent) for the top spot for Linux-based desktops.
Though Ubuntu is free to download and install, that doesn’t necessarily mean businesses will come running. “We’re talking to a lot more organizations interested in Macs than Linux desktops, which is interesting since they are on opposite sides of the cost perception spectrum,” Michael Silver, an analyst at research outfit Gartner, tells Wired. “There is still some interest in open source office suites, but even that has shifted more towards web-based products.”
But Silver says Ubuntu is at least moving in the right direction on the desktop. In October the company announced that it would extend its support period from three to five years — a necessity if the company wants to attract mainstream businesses.