Open source ushers mobile OS changes

The year is starting out with what may turn out to be significant changes in the mobile operating system market, with open source software playing a significant role just as it has in enterprise software, virtualization and cloud computing.

With fading heavyweights and interesting new challengers, there are changes afoot in the mobile OS market, but we must first acknowledge the market today is still mainly a duopoly of Apple with iOS and Samsung with Android.

However, if we look back five years, we see how dramatically the mobile OS landscape has changed. Given the pace of today’s device and application development and support, as well as users from consumers to the enterprise, we can expect similarly dramatic changes in the coming months and years.

Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

Like FOSS fog, cloud confusion may not matter

The general public knows little about the true technology fundamentals of cloud computing, suggests a recent survey commissioned by IT vendor Citrix. Almost a third of the roughly 1,000 U.S. adults polled thought cloud computing was related to weather.

However, the ascendance of Linux and open source software 10 years ago demonstrated that everyday people do not have to understand, appreciate or knowingly participate in a technology in order to leverage it in their lives.

Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

WebOS and the open alternative live another day

There has been no shortage of reaction to HP’s move to make the Linux-based WebOS open source software. Below, I offer some of my thoughts on the meaning for the different players affected.

*What’s it mean for WebOS?
Moving WebOS to open source was best option for HP. It retains some value in the software depending on its involvement. It is also the best fate for the code, rather then being sold or simmered to its IP and patent value or even used as another weapon in the ongoing mobile software patent wars. Still, the move comes amid huge developer and consumer uncertainty for WebOS. Nevertheless, at least WebOS was already in the market with a compelling products, the Palm the Pre, in the modern smartphone market. WebOS will hopefully have a faster path to open source than Symbian since the former is based on Linux. I still think the greatest opportunity for WebOS may be in serving as an open alternative in the market, particularly after Android has proven to handset makers, wireless carriers, OEMs and others that a Linux-based, open source mobile OS can succeed in the market and provide profit for multiple parties. Furthering this opportunity, WebOS may be even more attractive to these key vendors, channel players and other stakeholders who are tired of the IP and patent stress and expense around Android. Of course, Android was not under patent or IP attack until it was successful in the market and the same may be the case for WebOS, though we think its IP roots and history in touch and smartphone technology are less complex in terms of origin and ownership.

*What’s it mean for competitors?
For Apple, an open source WebOS means more market pressure and open pressure, more competition for developers and a real danger WebOS hooks into the Android ecosystem. WebOS may also be harder to attack from a patent and IP standpoint since it is older and more singular in ownership (Palm and now HP). Other factors include HP’s own formidable patent portfolio and the perception of Apple as a patent aggressor, which would be reinforced if it attacked WebOS the way it has gone after Android.

For Android, it may finally get a dose of its own open medicine, feeling the pressure of another Linux-based, open source mobile OS that is familiar to many developers, compatible with newer smartphone technologies and appealing to handset makers and other key OEMs. However, WebOS is also a validation of Android, which paved the path for mobile Linux and open source to finally break through beyond geeks to reach a mass consumer audience.

As for other proprietary players such as Microsoft and RIM, another open source rival is bad news. It presents another open source option and potentially serious competition on developers, applications, devices, carriers and consumers. An open source WebOS may also make Android, in effect, more open with faster, easier access to code for both Android and WebOS compete. This could make it even harder for these older, proprietary players to get developer or consumer mind share that is already slipping.

*What’s it mean for open source? Really, there is no downside for open source except that it will be viewed as a form of software cemetery if WebOS is not developed or delivered to market. HP’s WebOS move does give open source greater prominence in mobile software. Again, it is a validation of Android, which is Linux-based and open source, and shows that we haven’t seen the last of mobile Linux and open source software in Android.

The downside of Microsoft’s Android dollars

There’s been a lot of attention on the amount of money Microsoft is making from Android, including Microsoft’s own proclamations. Maybe it’s just that I’m more of a fan of Linux and open source software, or maybe I’m overly focused on the lawsuits and threats against Android, but I see serious downsides to all of those dollars for Microsoft from Android.

I believe Microsoft’s strategy to pursue patent licensing deals rather than sue, as we’ve seen from Apple, may prove to be a more effective strategy. Rather than limit or destroy Android, Microsoft is actually supporting its growth, meaning more Android devices and users in the market. Since it’s making so much money from Android, Microsoft may be less interested in limiting or attacking it, so that’s a benefit to Android. However, I do see some significant drawbacks to Microsoft’s Android strategy, all of which serve to limit Microsoft’s opportunity in the future.

First, Microsoft’s Android licensing is a validation of Android. Many if not most of the companies using Android that are also Microsoft licensees all seem to be doing well enough and making enough money to go ahead and pay Microsoft’s licensing fees. This highlights Android’s growth and spread, which is tied to significant market gains for companies such as HTC, Samsung and Verizon. One might argue that Microsoft’s Android licensing revenue will similarly rise with the Linux-based mobile operating system’s growth, but I don’t see that happening, and the second drawback I discuss next is the reason.

Second, we’ve already seen Samsung working to sidestep technology and patents in question that have caused courtroom fights or market bans around the world. I expect all of Microsoft’s Android licensees are working to similarly work around technology in question, so there is a shelf life on Microsoft’s IP licensing business. The details of these patent deals are not public to us, but the companies that agree to them have a much better handle on which technology is problematic since they’re the ones signing. I expect we will see these deals peak at some point and over time, they will become less relevant to Android backers and less lucrative to Microsoft. In addition, for all of the criticisms regarding its openness, Android has a global, open source development community behind it. That means it will be able to compete, innovate and work around things quickly. Those workarounds will likely make their way into the greater Android community so that supposed patent infringements will decline and eventually disappear.

The third drawback is a matter of pride. At the same time Samsung officials signaled an effort to sidestep IP-sensitive technologies and issues, a Samsung executive expressed concern that these patent suits and fights may come at the expense of pride in brand and company. I couldn’t agree more. It really does say something if Microsoft is making more money from IP licensing of non-Microsoft technology than from its own work in smartphones — perhaps the hottest technology market on the planet right now. Consumers may not be aware of or care about lawsuits, license deals or pride, but developers do.

Given some new indications there may be a change at Apple and a bridge to Samsung whereby settlement, progress and choice take priority over market bans and destruction of an ecosystem, these drawbacks for Microsoft may be even more significant going forward.

Microsoft of old on Linux desktop, mobile and users

I wrote recently about how Microsoft is now among the broadest supporters of enterprise Linux server, but when it comes to desktop PCs and laptops, mobile and converged devices and end users, Microsoft’s Linux support is a time warp back to 1998 when computers and their software were fused by proprietary sodder.

Though probably not intended as one of the new Windows 8 features to be highlighted, recent reports indicate a boot requirement in Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 OS prevents booting of Linux.

As a Linux user who has installed several different distributions on several different failed Windows machines, I’m concerned for a few reasons. One, it can be difficult to impossible to avoid the so-called ‘Microsoft tax,’ whereby Windows machines are purchased with the intention of installing Linux. Two, this is a serious limitation to the growing segment of users that like a dual-boot option with Linux. Three, what will happen to all of those PCs, laptops, netbooks and other devices after the Microsoft software becomes buggy, broken or outdated?

In the past, I’ve written about how Linux, in its admitted geekiness and difficulty, can actually be easier and empowering. I learned this largely from installing Linux on a Windows machine for the first time more than five years ago. I’ve since slapped Linux on as many as a dozen other machines, including netbooks. For the record, I now run Linux software released a few months ago on my netbook, which is almost three years old.

Over time, I have encountered some significant stumbling blocks and hurdles in putting Linux on Windows machines, some of them suspiciously unnecessary. Given that, I’m not too surprised to see this secure boot business (link to SJVN)

We also see Microsoft taking an approach toward Android that is reminiscent of the Microsoft of old given its contribution to concern and doubt in the market over the competing mobile OS. We’ve also covered some of the Microsoft machinations that occurred over netbooks.

What’s even more surprising is that this boot limitation from Microsoft comes amid some amazing potential in dual-boot and auxiliary boot systems, such as instant on or media player boot options. Ironically, there are among the best ways for PCs to stay alive and running in the market. Unfortunately, Microsoft seems to be more interested in making sure the only OS you use is the one from them.

The open card in the mobile game

I wrote last year about the way Google’s Android mobile operating system was serving as a more open alternative to Apple’s iOS, but not so open that it didn’t leave opportunity for an even more open alternative.

Given that we continue to see software patent-based attacks on Android, as well as swirling FUD around coverage of the attacks and never ending suits and settlements and courtroom developments, it is clear it will be a long time before any of this legal business is ever close to settled, unless ended by settlements first, which is likely.

However, I’m more interested in the technology in the meantime. I also think it’s interesting to see, if not a ‘more open’ alternative emerging, at least another, ‘somewhat open’ option in the tablet market, this being HP’s WebOS. It’s interesting that WebOS evolved from Palm, which HP acquired in March 2010 for $1.4 billion. Though Apple’s iPad is still the clear leader in tablets, it is interesting to see continuing signs that what happened in smartphones (where iPhone led and Android quickly caught up and then passed iOS) may be happening in tablets. There is also still the possibility that tablets may play out like netbooks, with wild popularity followed by a fade in favor of more traditional PCs for traditional PC needs. It is interesting to note that Google’s Eric Schmidt recently commented on the continued utility of PCs, which will remain key to professionals, consumers, and also developers, largely because of the tactical keyboard. What is most likely is continued convergence, and it will be interesting to see what ties emerge between WebOS and PCs as computer hardware giant HP rolls out the OS in tablets and smartphones.

We also see other signs that new, open entrants may be mixing things up in the mobile and converged device market, such as word of a possible Android and iOS competitor from Mozilla. There is yet another project that is already a factor in netbooks, other mobile devices and the burgeoning IT market of automobile information and entertainment systems, MeeGo, which is also open source. Even Research in Motion’s Playbook is based on the QNX operating system, for which source code was made available by its previous owner to make it more like the open source Linux OS, which was attracting developers and interesting customers.

We believed there was a fairly prominent place for open source software, open source operating systems and general openness in mobile software when we wrote our report, Mobility Matters three years ago, but we would have never guessed that the openness of this software would be so significant in two respects: defense from patent and other intellectual property attacks; the market power of open source, which draws in not only developers, but manufacturers and other third-parties. We’ve seen the speed and strength at which a project and community such as Android can grow. Will we now begin to see other alternatives that are even more open emerge as top choices among developers, hardware companies, wireless players and consumers? Never before have those alternatives really existed in the mobile software world, so it’s good at least to see the possibility is there.

Is Android FUD a forebearer of Linux-like success?

Time is flying by so fast, it sure doesn’t seem like it was last year I was blogging about how Android is for real. Well, let me reiterate … Android is for real. The reason I say that and stress that is despite its success, we see a variety of legal threats, accusations and actual lawsuits flying at Android as fast as it is growing in the market.

Still, we seem to be able to fairly easily find agreement among vendors, developers and users that Android development is not slowing down, that legal maneuvering will not pave a path to success or that any ruling or action will take Android-based phones out of consumers’ hands. This is not to say Android doesn’t face significant challenges: real fragmentation and version overload; a software development pace that may be too fast for handset makers or consumers; innovation from rivals such as Apple, HP, Research In Motion, Microsoft and others, including ones we may not yet be considering a threat, but which may find an improvement or refinement. This could be as simple as serving as the more open alternative.

I’ve seen some criticisms of Android and Google indicating it is clear or should be clear what is open source and what is not. I would argue, however, that is has become quite unclear what is open source and what is not in all circumstances and particularly in smartphones, as we covered in our special report Mobility Matters two-and-a-half long years ago. There’s no denying the constant pressure for Android and Google and others in the ecosystem to be true to the spirit and letter of open source and its licenses, however painful, serves to strengthen its open source aspects. However, the statements and signals crying foul against Android are quite similar to the complaints, threats and, yes, FUD we saw swirling around Linux a decade ago. And let’s not forget the lesson of open enough, which becomes even more significant given cloud computing and the capabilities it is extending to smartphones and other mobile devices.

Bottom line, developers, handset manufacturers and consumers are heavily more focused on new releases every six months than who is suing whom in the IP infringement claim game and software patent ‘system.’ To predict where Android is headed and what is likely to happen as a result of the FUD, we can look at Linux, which emerged stronger, more competitive and more enterprise-ready after the infamous SCO threats and lawsuits.

I have no fear that Android development and innovation will slow down as a result of legal claims, suits or threats. I have no uncertainty that new features, functionality, applications and development will be the drivers in the market and I have no doubt that the companies, cash and consumers on the line will keep things incredibly interesting over the next several years. No FUD here. Nothing to see, move on.

Give Linux with no surprises

In other words, if you’re offering or giving a Linux-based computer this holiday season — whether you’re a big box retailer, online distributor, or Linux fanatic who wants to spread FOSS to family or friends — make sure you tell them it’s Linux. I know, I know. Why offer advice about Linux computers when no one is using them, right? Well, given that Linux represents roughly 30% of the millions of netbooks being sold, Linux is actually being used by consumers like never before. As we see in recent ads in newspapers, online and elsewhere, the word ‘Linux’ is actually appearing a lot more in public. This is a good thing, but there is a danger.

I hope that vendors selling consumer PCs and netbooks running Linux will prominently display and detail that: ‘This is a Linux-based computer, and this is an alternative operating system to Windows XP or Vista.’ When I page through the newspaper, once I slap myself in the face after seeing the ‘Linux Laptop’ EeePC on sale at Toys’R’Us, I am glad to see the word ‘Linux’ (also the same 8G storage as the Windows Laptop side-by-side for $30 less). However, I’m somewhat disappointed that a separate Dell newspaper insert does not mention Linux. The cool, little Inspiron Mini 9 is advertised with its features, but lists the operating system as: ‘Mini OS Powered by Ubuntu 8.04.’ No mention of Linux. Now of course most Linux folks know that Ubuntu is Linux, but most folks reading the Sunday paper don’t know what Ubuntu or Mini OS is. I, in fact, am not sure what Mini OS is? The point is, Dell should follow the lead from Toys’R’Us and go ahead and label the computer with Linux.

Many attribute reported high return rates for Linux netbooks — which have been refuted and likened to the rate for Windows-based machines — to the fact that people just assume they’re getting Windows and are surprised when they don’t. This is probably a sad truth and the lingering effect of Microsoft’s monopoly and good old fashioned user inertia. However, I think the netbook — which represents a different form factor and cost threshold for mobile computing — lends some advantages to Linux, which is constantly being pushed for greater performance, power savings and support. The competition, at least for now, is limited mostly to Windows XP, which is no longer being developed and will be increasingly less supported.

I’m not the only one who thinks sellers and distributors need to be open about the open source OS. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth says it is critical to let users know they are getting Linux. Perhaps he and Canonical need to reach out and convey this to Dell as the two seek success for Ubuntu in the Mini. Andy Typaldos, CEO of Xandros, which is used in the popular Eee PC, says he thinks the biggest issue is average users assuming and expecting they get Windows with any computer they buy. This will change as a new generation of users — many of whom will be netbook buyers and recipients — enter the picture, but for now I think it is the reality.

However, Linux has enough advantages to stand on its own, whether it is the added memory, storage or other functionality manufacturers are able to add when they avoid OS licensing and use Linux, lower price or forward-looking support. If consumers are simply told this is a bit different, but it is part of this different device and experience, I think they’ll fare better with their new netbooks. If they think they are getting Windows, like a Linux user who goes back to Windows, they will be disappointed.

Firefox gets record, but what about real prize?

Score one for open source software in the history and record books. Mozilla announced its Firefox open source Web browser set a Guinness World Record for number of downloads in a day, notching more than eight million downloads in 24 hours June 17-18, 2008. The day also marked the release of Firefox 3, the latest version of the browser that has steadily built its user base up from a fraction of the browser market to a solid, near 20% share today.

There were a few hiccups during Firefox’s so-called Download Day, a PR stunt that could have easily been dubbed Delay Day by those undable to obtain the latest version. I think it’s interesting that even in this day and age, even when you are geared up for spikes and infrastructure is far more flexible and agile, there’s still downtime with the rush. Nevertheless, it successfully drew attention to Firefox and more importantly, the browser has been praised for its security and appeal to many users.

However, Mozilla has also been questioned for not focusing more on the enterprise opportunities for Firefox. Given its security, flexibility and customization advantages, I see Firefox as a perfect fit for enterprises, and I’m aware of several vendors and companies in tech and other industries that encourage or enforce use of Firefox. However, Mozilla seems content to allow consumer and home use to seep into the enterprise.

I believe it is wise for Mozilla to focus on user features and innovations, to look to advertising for its revenue and to refrain from enterprise sales departments and staff. However, the company should be doing all it can to provide the features and functionality that will ease Firefox use in the enteprise. This is a matter of both perception (‘That browser isn’t made for use in our business, is it?) and reality (I can’t push proxy settings across numerous installs), but they are issues that can be addresssed by the involvement, speed and variety of open source software development.

Funambol – AGPL’d, ad-supported mobile open source

Mobile open source player Funambol is certainly giving us plenty to watch these days with its Affero GPL licensing, its use of ad-supported mobile phone access to email and general bet on mobile open source software. Like an audience watching the tightrope act, we’re observing intently (Funambol translates from the Latin words funis (rope) and ambulare (walking) to give us the company name and tightrope walker logo). I recently met with the company’s VP of marketing, Hal Steger, who demonstrated perfect balance drinking a cup of coffee and talking at the same time.

For me, one of the more important and serious questions about Funambol centers on its licensing choice. Will AGPLv3 licensing, viewed as both a positive and a penalty by different parties, prove to fuel a larger, more effective developer community? Or will it mire the vendor and its SaaS model down in sharing requirements? Steger says the move appears to be paying off given Funambol was among the first to adopt the AGPLv3 and adoption of the license is now growing.

Another big thing to watch with Funambol is its use of advertisements to support its push email offering, primarily intended for mobile operators and service providers. Steger reports the ads are not yet producing revenue, but instead are intended to compliment the company’s use of open source and make push email free. This is a recognition, as Steger explains it, that consumers’ interest in email on their mobile phones comes with an expectation of low or no cost.

In terms of mobile Linux and mobile open source software, Funambol sees, as we do, issues of fragmentation and an overwhelming number of mobile Linux flavors that are far less open than server-side Linux. Still, Steger sees this as Funambol’s challenge and opportunity, that is, to enable mobile phones of all kinds to handle push email from a variety of email clients.

As the company balances commercial and community growth, including a recently launched forge site, the results will give us some insight into the impacts of open source licensing and business model decisions.

Ubuntu Remix stirring Linux netbooks

I’ve written quite a bit recently about netbooks, MIDs, UMPCs and the general category of sub-notebook/greater-than smartphone, and while I had planned on taking a break from the subject, it keeps coming up. The latest splash in this new form factor pond, where Linux enjoys greater deployment and significant cost and technical advantages, comes from none other than Linux desktop leader Ubuntu and Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth. Despite the development of an Ubuntu version for netbooks, I had held off on including Ubuntu in most previous blogs on the topic. However, based on Shuttleworth’s disclosure of the Ubuntu ‘netbook remix’ in response to OEM interest, it’s clearly time to talk about how Canonical and Ubuntu fit into the netbook screen.

We have joined others in wondering about Ubuntu on the server. Canonical highlighted broad OEM support with its release of 8.04 Hardy Heron, but has failed to translate its desktop deal with Dell into a server-side arrangement and has yet to announce any major OEM server deal. However, Ubuntu continues to dominate Linux desktop use, positioning it with the kind of popularity required in broader, consumer markets. The Linux server market is still growing, and Canonical will no-doubt look to leverage corporate and consumer desktop use to continue its push into servers. However, it may have an even greater opportunity at present to with its OS and custom development and services for this hot market.

One of the best things about Ubuntu Remix is that it is clearly following the same successful recipe that has fueled Ubuntu on the desktop: open, transparent development, GPL licensing (GPLv3 for a new netbook launcher and other software) and inclusive of feedback from developers as well as users. Shuttleworth would not give names of OEMs, some of which are working on ‘more radical user interface innovation,’ or dates for when we can expect certified Ubuntu netbooks. However, based on the comments and consumer reaction to these devices, it seems clear this is a big opportunity for Linux and Canonical will be among the players involved.

Netbooks, MIDs, whatever – it’s about lower cost Linux

Mobile Internet devices (MIDs) have been the focus of much work and talk from chip giant Intel, which says its Atom processor will fit nicely into these smaller devices. In a recent interview with the AP, Intel chief Paul Otellini says MIDs favor Linux. I’ve written previously about the opportunities for Linux in the growing device category ranging from these MIDs to ‘subnotebooks,’ ‘UMPCs’ ‘netbooks’ or whatever other name we analysts come up with next week. No one can be sure what form factor (or name) would best carry Linux to a significant portion of the mainstream PC market, but I agree whole-heartedly with Otellini’s view that the driver here is cost. Linux is serving not only as the OS for end users, but it is increasingly the choice and focus of OEMs and ISVs. Consider Linux player Wind River’s recent partnership with Intel to produce a Moblin-based Linux specifically for Intel’s Atom and MIDs.

Our ongoing research here at 451 continues to indicate that cost is the main driver for free and open source software in the enterprise. Otellini points out that much of the attraction of the MID and netbook categories is, similarly, cost. The Intel CEO describes a zest among consumers of these new devices that he has not seen in a long time. With devices such as the Asus EeePC, Everex CloudBook, new Acer Apire One available for $400-$500, it’s clear that cost is a big motivator for consumers, too. Some see this market limited to niche, pointing out these manufacturers and limited features will not win out over larger PC vendors and greater functionality. However, we see others getting into the game, including Dell, which already supports Linux on some notebook PCs, and HP, which recently rolled out a Linux-based 2133 Mini Note UMPC for education. The use of these netbooks in a thin-client desktop deployment — increasingly the case in educational and enterprise settings — also highlights how the limited functionality may be mitigated by new desktop paradigms, particularly considering virtualization.

Sure, mainstream cusomers will still have a choice of WindowsXP, and perhaps it will be offered to consumers at the same or lower cost to the more-established Linux. However, since manufacturers are able to spend more elsewhere, such as greater memory in the Linux version, it has a technical and economic edge in the development and end user aspects of these devices. The benefits of Linux apply not only to the end users, but also to manufacturers, as Intel’s Otellini attests. Given its continued momentum, you can see how the open source OS would play a prominent role in what Otellini describes as ‘the evolution of the handset,’ which he sees centered on Linux.

Red Hat-Ubuntu pairing would have potential

I’m starting to see some big potential for symbiosis between two Linux and open source leaders: Red Hat and Ubuntu. Red Hat’s departure from the consumer desktop Linux market comes at the same time Ubuntu continues rolling in the same market with the release of Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron this week. The latest Ubuntu also comes in a server version that continues distributor Canonical’s aspirations for enterprise servers. While it has been a struggle to sign OEMs for pre-installation, Canonical appears to be on the right track with regard to certification from the biggies. Still, Ubuntu’s server challenge is a big one, and it comes in a Linux market where Red Hat rules the roost.

All of this is happening at a time when the use and management of server and desktop computers is coming together through virtualization and continued mixing of operating systems and server/desktop deployment. This makes me wonder if Red Hat could help Ubuntu on the server with greater support and integration of the ‘other’ Linux. Why would Red Hat do such a thing? We already see the company, wisely, offering deeper integration and support for Windows — why would they do that? The answer is reality. Enterprise datacenters and even divisions rarely run one OS, let alone Linux. There are typically Windows and others in play and there is also much greater acceptance and use of Linux, which has become less exotic and more like any other OS in the datacenter. Let’s remember too that choice and flexibility are no longer customer requests, they are expectations, and every major server vendor supports at least some OS variety.

Red Hat could also benefit from greater integration with and support for Ubuntu desktops. While Ubuntu leads among Linux consumers, it is also gaining more significance for the enterprise desktop. I believe Red Hat may be underestimating the impact of consumer desktop choices when it says it wants to leave that market alone. Ubuntu is thriving there, and it is also leveraging its desktop popularity and prowess to push further into enterprise desktops. By partnering with Canonical and building ties between Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu desktops, Red Hat could harness Ubuntu’s popularity among technical fans (admins anyone?), consumers and enterprise users. This would only help Ubuntu’s uptake in the enterprise desktop market, and I believe there is potential for enterprise and consumer desktop success to feed off each other. I also believe this would bolster Ubuntu’s server efforts, paricularly as desktop management moves from the help desk to the datacenter.

These factors — plus the fact that a Red Hat-Ubuntu relationship is far more palatable to the larger FOSS community than say, a similar arrangement with Microsoft — lead me to believe the two Linux organizations have opportunity in banding together. Sure, they’ve differed in the past and even more recently, but I would argue Red Hat and Canonical are similar enough to produce some synergy and round out their respective open source offerings.

Red Hat and Ubuntu also have a striking similarity that could be integral to any kind of relationship, whether focused on the server, the desktop, management, virtualization or all of the above. That similarity is community. The community development of Red Hat’s Linux is often cited by those inside open source as a key to the company’s success. It has kept the community relatively happy with direction and development, and has kept them busy producing features and functionality in enterprise demand. It is Ubuntu’s community development that is often credited not only with the Linux flavor’s technical and feature advancement, but also its popularity among FOSS fans. The combination of these two communities is perhaps the most compelling argument for collaboration between them.

Maybe it’s just that I wrote a couple of reports back-to-back on the two companies and their opportunities and challenges, but I do believe Red Hat and Ubuntu could help one another and, in doing so, strengthen one another, Linux and open source in the enterprise.