Red Hat is being very critical of Ubuntu, accusing them of contributing enough to basic Linux development. They are right – Ubuntu does do less basic Linux development. However, Red Hat has substantial revenues from its various Linux distributions, as well as being much the larger company.
Red Hat is Neglecting the Desktop Market
If we look at the two, Red Hat has been concentrating on the corporate market, where users are prepared to pay an annual fee for the software because of Linux’s technical advantages regarding speed and resource usage over Windows. It has neglected the small-user desktop market, although it has provided Fedora, which is aimed at that market. Because of this bias, Red Hat is well-accepted in the server market, and the software is optimized for that market.
It costs $80 or more per year for the software and support, with software upgrades every seven years. Fedora is free, and support is available on their website. Software upgrades are done every six months.
Ubuntu is Strong on Desktop
Ubuntu has come in aiming at the desktop market, and users are getting accustomed to using Ubuntu, which is slightly different in use. It has a 6-month release cycle and supports any particular release for 18 months for free. It is easier to use than Red Hat or Fedora and can be used on desktops or servers. It offers a Windows installer so that it can be run under Windows.
Ubuntu will probably start charging for its server software
Comparing the Two
If one compares the two, it is clear that Red Hat/Fedora have a bias towards technically knowledgeable users and is not as straightforward in operation as Windows. Ubuntu is also more technically oriented, also attempting to close the gap and the Windows-installable version is a very clever ploy which is ostensibly aimed at Windows but seems to be aimed at the Linux Server/Enterprise market.
If you are a system administrator running Windows at home, you can now download a version of Linux and get used to using it. When you consider a server operating system, where Linux might be preferred because of its technical advantages which one are you going to buy – the one you know or one which is different but similar enough to make the commands confusing? Expect Ubuntu to become more user-friendly, with more Windows-like facilities.
Ubuntu is in the Game for the Long Term
This seems to be the real reason Red Hat is so concerned about Linux, not the inroads into the desktop market… They realize that Ubuntu is a long-term threat to their primary market. Moreover, they apparently see Ubuntu as a significant threat. Otherwise, they would not be so vitriolic in their attacks.
As far as the future of Linux is concerned, Ubuntu is probably the best hope for its becoming a real threat to Windows. The moves it has made may spur a thrust towards greater user-friendliness of the Linux operating system on the part of its competitors, and that would be coupled with a low price, be enough to make them a significant threat to Windows overall dominance and potent marketing strategy.
Perhaps they will spur Windows to cut price and offer a smaller, simplified, less resource-intensive and cheaper operating system, with fewer bells and whistles. This can only be good for computer-users everywhere.