Friday, December 28, 2007

I read the article linked to in the title. The executive summary of the opinion is that people are doing a disservice to Linux by creating Ubuntu-specific howtos and seeming to talk about Ubuntu as the only Linux distribution.

The bottom line is that it is Ubuntu. That's the distribution name. It's currently the most used one by a fair amount (don't but the Distrowatch numbers which claim that PCLOS is #1 ... though it's a good distro). When I talk about the Linux kernel, it's Linux. When I talk about a package, I use that package's name.

If I want to talk about adding repositories and installing software, it's Ubuntu / Red Hat / Fedora / Debian / Slackware / whatever. For this blog, that means Ubuntu. My stuff is centered on Ubuntu, although a certain amount could be extrapolated to Linux distros in general. Beginners following general Linux howtos (or even Ubuntu howtos for older releases) cause a fair number of headaches when they don't work exactly as written and the user doesn't have enough knowledge of Unix-like systems to adjust.

There's also the matter of Ubuntu users not knowing or caring what Linux is at this point. Many of them are brand new, just over from MS Windows. They don't search for "Install Skype on Linux," they search for "Install Skype on Ubuntu," just as they should. If you want to help these people (or get page views for ad clicks, or whatever your goal is), your Ubuntu howto had better be Ubuntu-specific and come up high in the search for that search term.

I made this blog to be Ubuntu-centric, because I have believed from the first release (4.10) that Ubuntu is something attractive to new users. It wouldn't be my first choice as a ten-year user, but I support several new users and am writing a book about it, so I've felt the need to be extremely familiar with it. As long as Ubuntu sticks to its agenda -- supply the best application in each category in the base install, keeps the community it has carefully built, and has that welcoming feeling for newcomers, it will continue to make waves.

So I say "Yeah, there's more to Linux than Ubuntu, but new users don't care and don't even need to. Let them find out about Linux and free software later, at their leisure. There's no need to force them into a Linux babtism if they just want a usable system."


Post a Comment

Other I' Been to Ubuntu Stories