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Canonical's Ubuntu may have that special je ne sais quoi when it comes to the desktop, but will enterprise users be similarly enchanted by its new commercial support? That's the question of the moment, as Linux bloggers ponder the company's recent foray into Red Hat territory with its new Advantage enterprise service. "Ubuntu Advantage provides systems management, support, legal assurance and direct access to the experts," in the company's own words. "Available for both servers and desktops, you can choose the right service level to meet your needs."
GNU/Linux is not just for servers. The same advantages of modularity, openness, standards-compliance, and Free Software licences apply equally to the desktop or the server. With cloud computing, thin client/VDI, and even good old X, the desktop is just another service. Software developers, IT managers, end-users, and the bean-counters all benefit.
Canonical has given a lot to GNU/Linux. Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu often exchange ideas, code and bug reports. Ubuntu has some good ideas about user interfaces and marketing. They are a huge asset to the Free Software community and they will be a growing asset to businesses that use their services. We need all sorts of individuals and organizations involved in GNU/Linux. It makes us all stronger.
Sorry Pogson, but I have to disagree about the desktop. Why? Because the server hardware is for the most part standardized around well supported by FLOSS chipsets, whereas desktops are this huge mishmash of proprietary chips that many will NEVER have any documentation for, which means Linux WILL fail there.
It is simply a matter of numbers: There simply aren't enough developers to insure that new devices don't break old devices, that devices that worked in Distro Foo work in Foo+1, and with everything from the kernel on up being as the shifting sand with regards to stability EVERY device needs QA, that simply won't get done. Look at Ubuntu forums and see how many "Update Foo broke my hardware" you see. Despite the FUD that is often spread, that simply doesn't happen in Windows and OSX.
With servers you have a MUCH smaller subset of vendors, many if not all are paying serious $$$$ to ensure their devices have good Linux support, because in the server space it is a good ROI, it simply isn't on the desktop. If you ever get a chance, check out the Dell Ubuntu netbooks and notice the repo setup. Notice how they disable the default repo and put in their own which almost never updates? That is because desktop updates BREAK hardware in Linux, and that just doesn't happen in servers nearly as much thanks to $$$$ being spent by OEMs.
Sorry to burst your bubble friend, but like everything else in this world it comes down to $$$. There simply isn't enough ROI to bother with Linux support on the desktop, so the vast majority of hardware OEMs don't. Just the opposite is the case in servers. that is why for the most part Linux "just works" even on brand new servers, whereas on a brand new desktop you'll be lucky to get 60% hardware supported.