I was spending some time today on Wikipedia, reading the entry on Ubuntu, and something hit me- something which I've known for a long while. I decided to sit down and blog it for those who haven't really thought about it. Maybe this post will catch you unaware, and maybe not.
Ubuntu is ONE distribution that you can use both on your desktop and in your corporate data center.
Think about this for a second. Ubuntu was released as a fork of Debian unstable in October 2004, and has been releasing a new version every 6 months. Then, in June or 2006, we saw the release of the first long term support (LTS) release. Ubuntu continued to release new versions every 6 months for the desktop user. Then, almost 2 years later, Ubuntu is ready to release their second LTS release in April of this year, codenamed Hardy Heron. See what's going on here? One distro for two purposes- the desktop and the data center. Let's contrast this to Red Hat and Novell.
First, I have the utmost respect for Red Hat. It's a company that has done a lot of things right in the Linux scene. Its developers have brought a lot of solid packages to the Open Source world, and it does many things correct, like run levels and system-config-*. However, you want an "enterprise" (I hate that word) distro for your data center? Better get Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Want more "bleeding edge" software on your workstations? The Fedora Project is the answer there. In other words, you need two separate distros. Same goes with Novell. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for your data center, and OpenSUSE for your workstation.
I find this rather unfortunate, as neither Fedora nor OpenSUSE are officially supported by Red Hat or Novell respectively. You must purchase their enterprise offerings for support. Contrast this with Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, who supports not only the LTS releases, but the regularly 6-month scheduled releases. In other words, one distro for both your "enterprise" needs and your workstation needs, with official full-scale support. There isn't an "enterprise" release and a community release. Ubuntu IS enterprise. Ubuntu IS community.
I look at my personal situation. The server powering this blog, and many other sites and services, is running the first LTS release, Ubuntu 6.06.2, codenamed Dapper Drake. Come April with the next LTS release, I plan on upgrading the server. Two years later, I will continue with the next LTS upgrade, and so on and so forth. Yet, I am running the exact same distribution, different release, on my 2 laptops and desktop. This makes it easy for me to only have to learn one distribution. It makes it easy to migrate packages, config files and maintain binary compatibility. While there is something to be said for remaining "distro neutral", there's also something to be said for learning one distro, and learning it well.
Ubuntu, keep thriving. I've been with you since your inception in October 2004, and you've got me 100% so far. To me, the philosophy of releases, support and Free Software is dead on. Not to mention, 1 CD, versus 5 or a DVD, is a no-brainer. It's no wonder you're leading the Linux world currently. You're making all the right decisions.