Ubuntu is the darling of the Linux desktop space. Voted No. 16 in PC World's Top 100 Products for 2007 and now coming as an option for Dell users straight out of the box, this Linux distribution is increasingly deployed on corporate networks. With a free server edition, a professional support organization and a growing band of enthusiasts in and around the IT divisions of enterprises, there are many reasons to consider Ubuntu when looking for a Linux solution. Here are the top 10 reasons why Ubuntu is best for enterprise use.
Linux for the Enterprise
1. Users Love It
Ubuntu has made ease of use a priority. Deploying Linux desktops across the enterprise was often seen as challenging for users who would balk at using command shells. Ubuntu brings a fresh but familiar GUI environment to the Linux desktop experience. Standard applications, easy Web and wireless access, reasonable resource requirements—the user experience with Ubuntu is reassuringly straightforward and predictable for typical tasks.
2. The Platform Has Excellent Support
For those who want commercial support, Canonical offers 24/7 and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. support contracts for servers and desktops with strong SLAs. There is also a global ecosystem of solution providers who work with Ubuntu, and a very large community of developers and enthusiasts who will often help to resolve issues online, free of charge.
3. Cost Savings
Many CIOs have already deployed Linux as a cost-effective replacement for UNIX. But Ubuntu goes further, eliminating per-seat license costs entirely, on both the desktop and the server, and allowing enterprise deployments of identical code on developer workstations and production servers with no license counting required. Companies can purchase support contracts for the classes of machines where they actually want access to SLA-based support, rather than being forced to pay a per-seat cost for every machine regardless of its support requirement.
4. A Superlative Security Record
Security is a top priority for Ubuntu, which has been rated No. 1 for security update quality and responsiveness in recent studies. Security updates are freely available to all users of Ubuntu, with no subscription required. Ubuntu is also conservative with updates; every change made to the operating system or to the base applications is peer reviewed for security. And of course, being an open source platform, Ubuntu inherits the positive security characteristics of Linux in general.
5. Frictionless Deployment
Whether on the desktop, the server or through a thin client, Ubuntu is extremely easy to deploy. Single-disk deployment of a functioning system in half an hour means there is no delay or difficulty in getting users up and running. Also, since there are no license fees, there is no reason to have different environments for testing, development and production, and companies find they can move new infrastructure into place much more efficiently.
6. A Huge Selection of Applications and Tools
There are more than 20,000 packages immediately available to Ubuntu users. These include the largest selection of open-source tools and a growing list of proprietary solutions. With Ubuntu, you can pick and choose the packages that make sense for your organization and build a specific system for your company. Ubuntu is not a one-size-fits-all proposition; companies routinely develop their own in-house system images, which include additional tools and configurations that are appropriate for integration into their networks. Of course, the default Ubuntu installation is a commonsense starting point that meets the needs of most system administrators and office workers.
7. Thin Client Joy
Thin-client deployments have dramatically lower TCO than traditional workstation-style software deployments. Ubuntu is a leader in thin-client technology, supporting more thin-client architectures than any other enterprise version of Linux. With the Web browser fast becoming the de facto standard interface to internal corporate applications, thin-client deployments offer significant advantages to companies building out new offices. Think of a call center environment with multiple stations talking to the same Web-based booking application. With Ubuntu, a central server can run the desktop environment for up to 30 users, making upgrades and maintenance a matter of maintaining a single server or cluster.
8. Unleash Your IT Talent
Open source and free software is built on participation, community and collaboration. With Ubuntu, your IT team has extraordinary visibility into the design and engineering behind the operating system and has the opportunity to reshape that infrastructure to suit your needs better. Increasingly, corporations who use free software like Ubuntu encourage their IT staff to work directly with the developers of the tools they use. It's the most empowering opportunity you can present to your teams and will produce returns in better software, more motivated staff and improved skill levels within the organization.
9. Access A Whole New Skills Pool
Companies like Google make heavy use of free software and recruit talent from the free software community, too. Many top IT graduates today list the ability to work with free software as a significant factor in their choice of employer. Companies that have good insight into the free software world and use Linux in appropriate ways are able to attract those graduates and offer them a more productive work environment.
10. Predictable Releases
Ubuntu makes a new release every six months, which includes full support for the latest hardware and free software applications. Those releases are maintained with free security updates for 18 months. Every two to three years, Ubuntu makes a Long Term Support release which is supported for three years on desktops and five years on servers. Upgrades from release to release are fully supported and can often be automated. Organizations have the freedom to choose the optimal mix of cutting-edge and long-term releases for their needs.
With such compelling reasons, how can you go wrong with Ubuntu?
Mark Shuttleworth is founder of the Ubuntu Project, an enterprise Linux distribution that is freely available worldwide and has both cutting-edge desktop and enterprise server editions. He founded Thawte, a company specializing in digital certificates and cryptography, which he sold to VeriSign in 1999, and founded HBD Venture Capital and The Shuttleworth Foundation. He also flew in space as a cosmonaut member of the crew of Soyuz mission TM34 to the International Space Station.