April 21, 2008
New Ubuntu Release Gaining Global Popularity
The recent rise in popularity for the production of pint-sized budget PCs has added to the surging success of open source software like Ubuntu.
Ubuntu, the operating system from Linux, will launch its latest version on Thursday.
Mark Shuttleworth, manager of Canonical software where he leads distribution of Ubuntu. He said that new initiatives such as Asustek's Eee PC and the One Laptop Per Child program have added more public exposure to open source.
"There has been a sea change in the way people think of Linux, which is very healthy," he said.
"We have seen a real shift in the last six months from folks seeing open source as either a super-specialist thing for people who run data centers or as an enthusiast thing, to something which is energizing a lot of the straight commercial PC industry."
He added that the estimated eight to nine billion Ubuntu users are beginning to challenge the traditional idea of personal computing.
"If people think of computing as going to a PC, sitting down and starting Word, then the traditional view, of using Windows and Office, will persist," he said.
"But if people think of their daily experience as a sit down on the web, we know that people can have a very compelling experience on Linux.
In fact, we know it is a better web experience because they can do it without spyware, without viruses."
Shuttleworth is also known as the second, self-funded space tourist in the history of the industry. He ventured to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz spacecraft in 2002.
Hardy Heron, the newest version of Ubuntu, is "perhaps our most significant ever," according to Shuttleworth.
He said the French police force was currently deploying 50,000 Ubuntu-powered machines, while Spanish education authorities were rolling out 500,000 desktops with the OS.
Hardy Heron represents a new focus on multimedia for Linux. Photo editing, music sharing and video playback will all be standard features in the new release.
"This is the first version that you can install under Windows, Shuttleworth said.
"Instead of re-partitioning your hard drive and taking some fairly risky steps, effectively you can now install under Windows without modifying your system."
Ubuntu can be installed on PC and Mac machines and is one of a number of versions of Linux.
"It's a favorite version of Linux both for specialists and one that specialists would recommend to a cousin, aunt or uncle who want to have a stable desktop internet experience," Shuttleworth said.
"There are other versions of Linux that are better for a particular purpose - but Ubuntu strives to be a general platform that is secure and self-maintained."
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