Thursday, May 18, 2006

Comments on Debian, Ubuntu, and the Future of Linux

There's an interesting blog post at by Stephen O'Grady of Redmonk about Debian, Ubuntu and the Future of Linux. Basically, the author says that Debian is poised to become much more relevant in the large-enterprise Linux space, taking it's place alongside Red Hat and SuSe, with a little help from Ubuntu:

...from where I sit it seems entirely possible that Ubuntu and its corporate partent Canonical could be tabbed as the corporate interface into the Debian community. It's difficult to imagine large ISVs such as IBM or Oracle dealing effectively with the Debian community, due to the cultural gap alone. Canonical, however, would seem to be an effective bridge between the two parties, having as they do one foot solidly in the Debian community with the other in businesses models the ISVs would understand.

I agree with part of this - right now, Debian and Ubuntu don't exist without one another. What's good for one is generally good for the other. This may have been incredible foresight, as Sun recently announced it was going to support Ubuntu.

On the other hand, the reality of Debian is that it is probably used in many more "large enterprises" than we know (I know of one Fortune-100 firm that has a large Debian server deployment, although they don't make it publicly known). While it's easy for Red Hat and Novell to track large-scale Linux deployments, it's nearly impossible for Debian, unless that information is offered. For server deployments, Debian Stable is, well, seriously stable. This is obviously something large companies look for in server deployments. As far as big-name support goes, HP has been offering Debian support on their own hardware for some time now - much as Sun will be providing support for Ubuntu on their hardware. There are also lots of smaller firms and independent consultants (many of them Debian developers) that provide Debian support.

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