Windows

One big thing Ubuntu can teach Microsoft, Apple, and all CTOs

Ubuntu is known as the friendliest Linux distribution, but it also has a important quality that Microsoft, Apple, and software developers can learn from.

Ubuntu has earned a reputation as the most user-friendly version of Linux on the planet, but I would argue that the secret of success for Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) is not really about a great UI or an extensive hardware compatibility list.

What Canonical does really well is to methodically produce incremental upgrades to its OS. It is transparent about its goals and plans, and it releases its software on schedule. In fact, this incremental approach is Ubuntu's most potent competitive weapon against rivals Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It is also an approach that CTOs and other IT leaders who produce software, Web sites, and other product-based Web services can learn from.

For perspectives on the latest in tech, follow me on Twitter: @jasonhiner.

Since the first version (4.10) of Ubuntu was released in October 2004, there have been 10 OS releases of Ubuntu (see chart below). During that same time period, there have been three new releases of Mac OS X and two new releases of Windows. If you want to include service packs, then you could kick up the number of Windows releases to four.

This preference toward incremental releases on a reliable schedule is a quality that appeals to IT departments. In fact, many IT leaders have asked software makers such as Microsoft to stop doing massive upgrades, but instead update Windows in smaller steps.

That allows IT to test and roll out OS updates much easier and quicker. IT has become averse to massive software upgrades, like Windows Vista and Windows 7. They cause too much pain -- both in hardware/software incompatibilities and user re-training -- and don't offer enough benefits in return to make all of that pain worth the effort.

Some will argue that the business model is the primary reason why Microsoft takes a different approach to upgrades than Canonical. After all, Windows upgrades have a price tag attached to them and all of Ubuntu's software releases are open source and free of charge (they make their money from support contracts). However, the financial impact is overstated.

Microsoft makes the majority of its money from Windows in two ways:

  1. From the versions of Windows preloaded on retail PCs
  2. From OS licenses sold in bulk to large organizations

No matter which version of Windows is preloaded on a retail PC, Microsoft still makes the same amount of money. The company doesn't make any more money on a Windows 7 PC than it did on a Windows Vista PC last year.

With volume licensing agreements such as Software Assurance, Microsoft has pushed many organizations into renewable licensing agreements that give them access to all the latest Microsoft software. Whether a company upgrades its machines to Windows 7 or not, it still pays Microsoft a regular licensing fee.

So Microsoft has the financial foundation to switch to a more incremental upgrade cycle. The fact that during the past decade it has moved companies to Software Assurance and that with Windows XP it broke from its version numbering system (the XP was for "eXPerience"), is evidence that Microsoft had been preparing for a day when it would deliver OS updates on a more incremental basis.

But, it never happened. That probably has as much to do with legacy and momentum as anything else. The bottom line is that Microsoft's huge Windows upgrades have put the OS at risk of massive stagnation, especially in the business world, which largely skipped Windows Vista altogether and is still on the fence about Windows 7. That has left most business PCs running Windows XP, while consumer machines have moved on to Vista or Windows 7.

Conversely, Ubuntu has established a disciplined upgrade cycle, made it a top priority, and stuck to it. Canonical releases a new version of Ubuntu every six months. It has major releases, which it calls LTS (Long Term Support) releases, and those come out every two years. The first one, 6.06, landed in June 2006. The second one, 8.04, landed in April 2008. The next LTS, 10.04, arrives at the end of this month (April 2010).

Ubuntu supports these LTS releases for three years (five years for the server versions). There are companies who only use the LTS versions of Ubuntu for that reason. Canonical supports the interim versions of Ubuntu for 18 months (basically assuming you'll move to the next LTS version when it arrives).

This type of transparent, methodical, and incremental upgrade cycle is the future of software. If you want to see another example, take a look at Zoho, an online productivity suite that offers an alternative to both Microsoft Office and Google Docs. Zoho pushes out new features, fixes, and updates on a continual basis. In fact, for some products there are Zoho updates as often as once a week.

This is not a matter of resources. Zoho has a very small team. Meanwhile, Canonical only has about 300 employees in the whole company (as well as its volunteer army of open source contributors). This is a matter of focus, priorities, and leadership. The successful software and Web companies of the next decade will learn this lesson well.

Also read: I'm not breaking up with Windows, but we're seeing other people Subscribe in one click: TechRepublic's Linux newsletter

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

152 comments
jefmud
jefmud

Thanks Jason for calling attention to the amazing work over there and kudos to the community of supporters. The fanboys may disagree, but the "big-2" could learn a little from their best-practices approach.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

If MS or Apple came up with a release schedule like that everybody would hit the roof, you included.

aspir8or
aspir8or

On my MS Windows wish-list for years. Once you've gotten used to multiple desktops in Linux, it's a real PITA going back to an incredibly cluttered taskbar if you have a lot of apps/windows open at once, though Win7 has started address this problem. There are some apps available that create virtual desktops, but most are too flaky, and the one I have found that works for me (Dexpot - www.dexpot.de) is incredibly and unnecessarily complicated to set up.

tor
tor

Yes, yes, all this is true; however, the ubuntu server upgrade (from 9.04 to 9.10 in my case) can go drastically wrong, and if you haven't backed up properly recovery is impossible and it is likely you will have to rebuild your server. I have avoided 9.10 (9.04 worked just fine by the way)and am dreading the 10.04 upgrade opportunity unless >I can be shown that the upgrade goes on wihtoout having to rebuild anything; this was NOT true for 9.04 to 9.10 and I have the numb fingers still from trying it.

tomsaine
tomsaine

I agree entirely and would like to pass your model onto another industry that sorely needs it. That would be the auto industry. Sometime in the late teens or early twenties if the last century General motors forced the industry into this insane cycle of bringing out a new car every year. The only company that defied that cycle, to any extent, was the original Volkswagen Beetle; which was essentially the same car from the late forties until the 1980, with some significant, but mostly incremental changer along the way. Until some numskull at Porsche decided that the VW needed to switch to a water cooled engine. What the public got after that was the Gulf/Rabbit, what a mistake that was. And as for the "New Beetle" it can't hold a candle to it's predecessor. I really wish I still had my 1955 model; what a really great car!

said.fox
said.fox

There is two things prevented me to continue with Ubuntu, 1- the absence of using some important features for popular IM's like Yahoo and Live messenger like voice chatting with my buddies on these services. 2- I'm not sure about Ubuntu's protection for my hardware specially Hard drive and RAM

TransitMan
TransitMan

I have been using Ubuntu since Breezy Badger 5.10. Why? Because of the anticipated release of Vista and the costs associated with it. Why pay for an Operating System that costs a lot of money, sometimes requires you to upgrade your hardware to use it, and then still have problems and all you get from Tech Support is "we will look into it and get back to you", sometime never, sometimes within months. I need something I can use now without issue and can be resolved with little fanfare. With Ubuntu, you go the community forums and if you're having problems, you either do a search for your problem or make a post where the members try and help. Granted, not every problem can be fixed just by looking at the forums. Sometimes it takes a lot of reading and "Googleing" to find an answer. If you have no patience for this, then any version of Linux of BSD is not for you. Stay with Windows or MAC. Upgrading every 6 months to a new version is not without it's problems, but again, with the community forums you can get the help you need without waiting on Microsoft to come up with a fix months later. Oh, let's not forget the monthly fixes on Patch Tuesday from Microsoft. You have a problem with Windows and a fix is forth-coming, you have to wait for Patch Tuesday. A serious security issue, Patch Tuesday, once a month. With the Linux community, when a security issue is found, and fix is released in matter of hours to a few days, not a month or more later. I've heard and seen people complaining about compatibility with their printers, cameras, scanners and iPods. In short, yes there are issues, but a lot of the faults lie with manufacturer's not supporting Open Source Operating Systems. But with community help, there are some work arounds that have been tried and tested by the members. Will I go back to Windows and their Operating Systems' change of every 3 - 5 years? No. But I will stay on top of their progression, because like it or not, I have to help those who will not or cannot make the change to Linux. Linux is not for everyone.

Justin James
Justin James

Jason - The idea of Microsoft doing a "minor" Windows release on a regular basis flies in the face of logic. It's a disasterous scenario for developers/support staff/admins/technicians/etc. who then have to deal with the COMPATIBILITY issues! "Oh, you have Vista 2009.3? That's the problem, you need to upgrade to Vista 2010.1 or later!" It's bad enough that we have the patch situation to deal with, you want to add minor upgrades every few months? The only reason why this flies for Ubuntu's desktop users, is because virtually no one is using Linux as a desktop OS in an enterprise environment. As a result, the people who are putting up with this are the enthusiasts who have a much higher pain threshold than the typical IT department. The only upside to this (if you can call it that) is that software vendors could get even more maintenance and support dollars from their customers... J.Ja

Kevin.Legrande
Kevin.Legrande

I sincerely believe Ubuntu is a great OS, and it gets better every six months. I'm a video editor though and I just wish Sony and Adobe would port Vegas and CS5 to Linux and I'd drop Windows in a heartbeat. As it is I'm pretty much stuck. Yeah, I know you can fake it but I need them to run native.

pcwow
pcwow

The funny thing about this post is that you ONLY mention Microsoft issues. That is just another bias point of view!

clavius
clavius

One of the biggest annoyances for me is that the majority of Windows updates require rebooting to complete the installation. For auto-update, the machine often decides to reboot itself (to finish auto-installing the update it downloaded in the background) just when I'm in the middle of some important task. In contrast, my Ubuntu machine almost never requests a reboot after updates. That makes the update process much less intrusive, and therefore easier to like, on Ubuntu compared to Windows.

jamey123
jamey123

November 23rd in your post "The market has rejected Linux desktops. Get over it." you, Jason, said in not so many words that Linux should throw in the towel. I posted a comment stating that I hope they don?t take your advice. MS gets 90% of its ideas from its competition (linux). I never drank the Linux or MS Kool-Aid but I would like to see the Editor in Chief of TR have partially consistent views. Sorry for bashing but it can seem a little hypocritical.

dregeh
dregeh

Not in the sense of "vote for the prettiest", but as a matter of quantity of software developed for the OS. Windows is hands down the most popular OS for software development. It may not be everyone's favorite (or anyone's favorite), but you have a glut of apps that get written for the most populous OS. How could you not? It's the wild west of OS's where anyone can create an app with VB and sell it and have a rip-roaring time. That comes at the price of less control for what will and will not be run on the Windows OS. But the unspoken contract people expect from Microsoft is that they will not break compatibility for existing software as they release new versions of Windows. I believe this is the root of it all. And I believe that if Canonical continues putting out releases at the pace they do, that the increased benefit over time will be less and less with each new version as they support their legacy code. Even with that belief, I still hold out hope that Microsoft will find a way to pull of faster releases. I wouldn't even mind if they started over, and sold a new OS that scrapped all the old stuff. Maybe they could name it "Doors". ;)

www.indigotea.com
www.indigotea.com

I spent 5 years working on a product that at one point, had 3 different versions to support. Why? Because our client base fell into 2 categories; - early adopters, who wanted the latest and greatest, and - heavily institutionalized organizations who didn't want to go through the expense of training users on updated software, even if it did provide more efficiency, already tailored to their industry. Oh, and that third version? That was to accommodate another product in the suite our company offered, because the company couldn't sync its own product updates. :/ The point is that not all companies will want to provide incremental training for those updates, which is a large part of the consideration for updating OS/productivity software.

garyleroy
garyleroy

One of the things that makes me glad I'm not tied into Apple products is their constant pilfering of bank accounts for upgrades of the same system; the last thing I'd like to see is Microsoft adopting this policy also. And you want more? Sounds like shooting yourself in the foot, here we get free updates and upgrades to keep current and improve safety and usability of the OS, and you're asking for the same thing, except to pay for it on a schedule. As for timeliness, you're saying they should release "on schedule" regardless of whether they are aware of issues? Or just magically have "no issues or bugs" to delay the release? I'm grateful they at least try to get a system in usable condition before releasing, whether it's on time or not.

maggie.b
maggie.b

"sidux is based on Debian's most modern branch, sid. It includes a comprehensive manual and a collection of tools and scripts to make desktop administration easier. sidux's own repository avoids packages which are currently defective in Debian Sid by temporarily uploading corrected packages to the sidux repository until a fixed package propagates into sid. One of sidux's more notable features, unlike most other Linux distros, sidux utilizes a true 'rolling-release-cycle', and thus continues to remain current. Users can update all of the system's packages via the command 'apt-get dist-upgrade'. Through this model, there should not, in theory, ever be a need to overwrite a sidux system by installing an entirely new version."

alfielee
alfielee

The one that displays your complete & utter ignorance. Why comment when it is obvious you know little of what you speak? Your comment shows clearly your inadequate insight into the discussion as well as your childishness in needing to be noticed. Perhaps next time you'll avoid looking like a tool & shut up.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My own rants on recognizing indavidual distributions versus lumping all into the same "Linux" group are no secret but I think you might be stretching it a little. Ubuntu is the popular distribution right now and Canonical is it's maintainer. If you talk about Ubuntu, it's a good chance that readers will know what your talking about where they may not recognize other distribution brand names. It's probably the biggest distribution recognized as competition for Windows. Microsoft would be looking at Canonical very clearly here. It's not like Microsoft is looking at Gentoo or Slack and saying "crap, they're killing us out there!" I also read "Ubuntu" as being representative of what most distributions do outside of a few points specific to Ubuntu and the smaller group of distributions. It didn't read like Canonical should be recognized as they only distribution to ever do these things. We're talking general principals common across distributions rather than claiming bugs unique to one distribution are inherent across all of them so using a single representative is accurate and makes sense in this case. Your blob entry and rage seems misplaced to me but I'm also curious to hear Jason's counter-counter-point.

alfielee
alfielee

Yes, 9.10 was a PITA & took some time to iron out the problems. In the end it was worth it but only to a small degree as 9.04 was quite stable. The upgrade to 10.04 is far more stable & worked immediately with very few of the problems seen in 9.10. I love it & wouldn't go back to 9.10 or 9.04 ever bcoz this one brings things in that weren't available & never will be as stable if they are.

Dopey.1.of.The.LSD
Dopey.1.of.The.LSD

Oops! Sorry Tomsaine, but I don't know where you're living. However, since you're using the nickname "Rabbit" I'd guess it's in the USA to make such an undocumented post (I mean about cars). If you were a little bit knowledgeable into the worldwide car industry, you'd know that the "Golf" that you call "Rabbit" is the most successful midsized car sold all over the world in term of number and that every single year since its inception late in the seventies! Further, if you're right saying that Ferdinand Porsche originally designed the VW Beetle, you're wrong about who designed the Golf, a brand new front traction wheels using a modern in line 4 cylinders cooled by liquid vs. an antic rear pushed wheels using a noisy air cooled and underperforming flat 4 cylinders engine. I don't want to offence you but due to my long and enjoyable 12 years living in the US, I've to admit that Californian fifties-sixties hippies could still love that kind of ?dogs?, especially compared to the average US manufactured toys spending over 25 gallons per 100 miles when running only at the average limited speed of 55 MPH! Just for you to know, my dearly wife uses Golfs for over 30 years (all GTI) driving over 40KM a year whitout any mechanical problems. Further I always enjoy making a tour with her last 4 motions drives wheels, 6 sequential gears, 230 HP engine on winter snowed roads. Fortunately, we both enjoy that kind of open road trips that still are available for fun in our old European countries without the chance to go right in jail when speeding over 100 MPH! That?s also why we (French, English, German, Italian, Sweden, etc.) have the best Rally pilots! But my post was only an aside to yours. Best regards.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Ubuntu shouldn't be pushing your hard drive and ram beyond hardware limitations. The file system should actually be a bit better for hard drive lifespan as it can do less read/write on the hard drive. RAM on the other hand, shouldn't have any risk; it's just memory. Hardware overclocking would be far more harmful for RAM sticks than anything software should be able to do to it.

Dopey.1.of.The.LSD
Dopey.1.of.The.LSD

... is to install smoothly on the average computer (laptop or desktop) without the need to be a ?geek?! You?re right. Linux isn?t for everyone. And that?s the problem! And that's why it fails! I'm not creasy about Windows (even if I use it for over 25 years). I?ve been in the software industry for over 30 years, using all flavors of CPM, DOS, OS/2 and Windows. After multiple failed attempts to decently install Linux, due to a recent mission, I?ve been obliged to install Ubuntu 8.04 (the latest LST release available) on my laptop (an Acer ASPIRE 9920 with 4 Go of Ram, 2 x 320 Go HDD, a classic Broadcom Netlink Gigabit Ethernet Network adapter, mouse pad, integrated sound system, webcam, etc.). Since my native OS is Windows 7-64 ultimate (that works like a charm vs. my previous Vista 64 Ultimate), I first decided to install Ubuntu under VMware Workstation 7. All went fine but few devices not recognized (webcam). So I decided to install it on a blank HDD and what a surprise: no sound (oops), no webcam (not a surprise) but worth: no damned network! I was then unable to go to the Net to try to find what was going wrong and what I could do to get the relevant network adapter driver! So, until Ubuntu (or any other current Linux distribution) will be able to install smoothly on a classical machine like this one, I will continue to say that this OS (that seems to perform heavily) isn?t made for the average end user and that?s why it will definitely fail to embrace a strong position on the desktop market. Too bad! It?s a shame for all of us who want to migrate from the Microsoft environment of choice, but I won?t put Gran?Ma on it (and I even don?t want to talk about the poor quality of the GUI nor of the purported compatibility of the Apps.). Cheers.

greyseal96
greyseal96

I have to agree with Justin. I scrolled through all of the responses and I didn't see many people bringing up this point. Most of what Microsoft does is for businesses. In the case of the frequency of their OS version releases, they know that Enterprises do not upgrade often; consumers do. In fact, Microsoft could give away the OS for free, but I don't think that the company would upgrade often because it is still cost prohibitive to do the testing, rollout and training for all of the users. This is kind of what you see with Software Assurance where enterprises can use any version that they choose but still stick with the one that they currently have. Whether it is a minor release or a major one, I still have to test the OS to make sure that it works in our environment and doesn't break anything. Then I have to prepare for rolling out the new version, which means making a standard image, testing the deployment, etc. Then there's the inconvenience of having the users take time out of their day for the upgrade and fixing any issues that come up. More frequent releases means that I either have to do testing more often (making me focus more on "release management") or I just skip a whole bunch of releases, which puts me in the same spot that I am in with Windows. As Justin correctly points out, Ubuntu is not extensively used in an enterprise environment so this model works very well for them right now; they aren't getting the same pushback that Microsoft gets about releasing new versions as frequently. --John

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

There aren't nearly as many compatibility issues when you do smaller, more incremental releases. That's one of the biggest benefits.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

However, Microsoft Windows is an example that everyone knows and can understand. That's why I used it here.

johnyligawa
johnyligawa

Because it is those issues that Ubuntu fixes.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

a grocery list of examples from every software development company in existence? Learn to extrapolate; apply the examples mentioned regarding MS specifically to other companies in general. Don't find offense where none is intended.

5n1p3r
5n1p3r

Even if it does require a reboot in Ubuntu it only asks you once then doesn't bug you again (just displays a little icon as a reminder)... in Windows you get the annoying popup every 20 or 30 mins asking you to restart... not cool.

alfielee
alfielee

Also Jason you stated that netbooks are dead but there are so many of them coming out running on ARM processors they obviously aren't dead...

reggaethecat
reggaethecat

He's just saying that MS could learn from the Ubuntu release cycle, not that Ubuntu has won the OS battle.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Linux in general has not reached a double-digit percentage of desktop installations (yet?), and the community may be better served by not adopting that as a goal. That doesn't mean the Ubuntu team can't have an intelligent software release policy that other companies can learn from. This release model is applicable to server OSs, applications, and other software; not just desktop OSs.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

They are trying that with Windows mobile. Will wait and see if it pays off. Bill

poolj
poolj

Nice cut and paste job from Wikipedia.

jesse_masone
jesse_masone

Considering that in 2004, Mac OS X was at version 10.3.2 while 2010 has us at 10.6.3, and we are in fact counting incremental upgrades, then, in actuality, Mac OS X has had 32 upgrades made available available. Also, with Snow Leopard, Mac OS X has essentially perfected the upgrade install to the point where there is no difference between an upgrade and a fresh install. Less intrusive updating is the way of the future.

tomsaine
tomsaine

Thanks for your comments. And, you are correct, I do live in the states, Indiana to be accurate, and I'm not rally up to date on world automobile production. But, that really wasn't my point; that being: Companies like Microsoft and General Motors make change, just for change sake. They change just to be different, not with the aim of making the product better. Microsoft dose not make changes to any of it's products to improve that product, Microsoft makes changed a product for profit, and for no other reason. They play on the public's need for something new; which was mainly brought about by General Motors conditioning the public to changing cars styling each year. General Motors hardly ever improves their products, but they look different each year, and that is what they have conditioned the public for the last seventy-five years to expect as being 'New'. The products of these companies (GM and Microsoft, and a host of others companies world wide) are hardly ever better, but they are "New", "Repackaged", and sometimes "Renamed", but rarely really new. The really sad thing about all this is that, to most consumers eyes that's enough reason to buy it - it looks new. Perhaps the VW-Gulf/Rabbit was not the best pick I could have made, since I do not know what the world wide sales of that particular car are (the Gulf or Rabbit as we know it in the U.S.)However, I do know that both the model "T" Ford and the VW "Bug" sold over fifteen million cars each and both cars were essentially the same basic design from the first one till the last one, with incremental changes through the years to improve them, without really changing them; and that is really my point. A case in point, one of my really pet-peeves with Microsoft. Notepad; the text editor that has been a part of Windows since Windows was first introduced, still, to this day, doesn't have a "Spell Checker", now to me that's something that should have been fixed thirty years ago. I've been told that Notepad was never meant to be used as a word-processor; it was meant to be used by programmers to check code. I guess Microsoft programmers are all first-class spellers and don't need a spell-checker; a fact not really born out by their programming skills. The way you talk about your wife's Gulf, I can image its statistics are similar to my old VW. My 1955 VW, which had over 200K miles on it, would got me from point ?A? to point ?B? in modicum of comfort and it got 25 to 30 MPG while doing it. However General Motors car of the same time period (Mid 1950's) were getting no more than 8 or 10 MPG. Today they advertise that they get 20 to 30 MPG; My question to them is? Why aren't they getting 50?, which they may be able to do if they would stop fiddling around with the fender designs, hood ornaments and chrome do-dads and start doing some solid engineering on what's underneath. If you really look the the car companies advertising, most of them seem to put more research into their radio than the do on the rest of the car; at least that's all they talk about when a commercial comes on the TV. Thanks again for your comments, and ?Best Regards? from an old retired engineer from Indiana, U.S.A.

said.fox
said.fox

I don't know it was a kind of probability or no. I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on a small hard-disk (W.D 8 GB) and another bigger Hard-disk (W.D 80 GB) for Windows. I don't know the bigger hard-disk exceeded its life time or no, but during using Ubuntu I heard some sounds of clicking in the hard-disk, I mistakenly considered it from the smaller hard-disk ( which carries Ubuntu) so I decided to remove the small hard and keep the bigger with the windows, after some little time I hear the clicking sound agian but unfortunately in this time I was lost the bigger hard. What I need to know, is there any reports about Ubuntu issues for managing two hard-drive one of them is formatted as NTFS and it is the primary master?

Justin James
Justin James

Jason - If, at the end of three years, the same amount of change has occured to an OS that had 1 major release and 2 service packs as it would have happened to an OS that had an incremental upgrade every quarter (or whatever the time span is), the same number of compatibility issues have occured. They've just been spread out consistently over 3 years instead of a few major moments. Remember when XP SP1 (or was it 2? I can't remember) came out, and it included the firewall and DEP and a few other items, and folks went bananas as their apps stopped working? There was an easy solution, just avoid that SP for, say, 6 months until the apps got fixed. With the incremental upgrade plan, it means that you are now frozen, and after you wait 6 months for the apps to get fixed, you are now an addition 2 incremental upgrades behind... that's a long game of catch up! In addition, if an incremental upgrade *were* to break something, developers have little time to react. With a quarterly release cycle, that gives developers 3 months from the moment the change is announced as a possibility to the moment it RTMs (or RTWs, as the case may be). That is a REDICULOUSLY short amount of time to regression test on a major app, especially since you are now multiplying the number of configurations that need to be tested by a huge number. I get the idea that you are pushing here, and in and of itself, it is a decent one. The problem is, it flies in the face of the *current* reality. Maybe one day in the near future, enough developers will have a totally automated testing environment, perhaps in conjuction with some cloud services that allows them to test a few dozen or a few hundred configurations on a nightly basis with each code build, and that test ocnfiguration will be maintained by someone who has the time and resources to keep up with these zillions of incremental releases (hint: this sounds like a viable business plan!). But until that happens, at a price point that even small shops can afford, incremental upgrades is a very bad idea. J.Ja

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

...lets you postpone that for up to 4 hours (and you can postpone it again for up to 4 more hours; I don't know if there is a limit to that). Better, but still a bit annoying.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

That may be true in terms of retail market share measured through supply chains but true usage remains anyone's guess. There's just been no way to accurately measure it with most distributions being available outside measurable supply chains. One this is for sure; it's having an effect. Between MS price restructuring, graphic improvements and promises of interoperability; competition has benefited all users even with such disparaging measurable market share.

jamey123
jamey123

In posts of the past, linux was pretty much thrown under the bus like it had no impact on the market. Now MS does not follow this particular policy but it does get other ideas from linux and Mac, ie eye candy desktops and the GUI (old ref). This is why I don't follow the logic. One hand we hear that linux should give up, the other hand is telling us MS should take notes.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You had an audible ticking which is more likely the drive head when the arm moves or something else coming loose. Ticking or grinding is very bad as is seizure. Physical damage sucks as it can cut you off from access to the entire drive. If it was Ubuntu, I would expect to see logical damage like corrupt security attributes or scrambled filenames if not data damage. I read that ntfs support has full read and write easily now. I gather the windows permissions are just inherited from the directory when you boot over. If your concerned, my habit is still to create a small fat32 partition just big enough to move files back and forth or hold what both sides have to see. Between cheap NAS boxes and ntfs support, it's become idle storage space these days.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Small and ongoing updates can allow one to keep it simple rather than designing an update that has to touch most of the system all at once. Less chance of an openssh update breaking the system rather than a CIFS/SMB update that has to also touch IE, networking, the kernel and so on.

alfielee
alfielee

If you do it in small recognisable chunks the updates affect a much smaller piece of the pie & so methods to get around problems are actually doable to get to a point where the upgrade process has been woth it overall.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Odd that a BSD, especially FreeBSD, would cause you that kind of grief. Was OpenBSD an option? I know for Debian the experience has been the opposite; clean updates with almost enough confidence to automate the process though auto-updates are never a good idea.

Justin James
Justin James

Those are great points, and something I didn't really consider. You are absolutely right, though. In a *Nix system, if push came to shove, I could recompile everything from source. Indeed, on FreeBSD, that is part of the upgrade process for major versions! Incidentally, it is where a HUGE amount of pain has come from for me, at least on FreeBSD. It usually takes me a day to sort out the kinks and find stuff that has a broken dependency or two. I hate to say it, but this pain (and other issues around the BSD ports system) are the reason why my personal BSD server got the P2V treatment, and is now running on a Windows 2008 R2 server which took over almost all of the responsibilities... the pain was becoming a major liability. :( It was really hard to justify it without a paycheck involved. J.Ja

muench
muench

There's one point I'm missing in this whole discussion about upgrades, why it works out for Linux (here: Ubuntu) and possibly not so well for Microsoft Windows: (almost) all software that is installed on a Linux machine comes from one or a few more repositories which are maintained by a group of people. This pretty much makes it a "closed world", i.e. if there are any patches to any library that would cause incompatibilities, the affected programs are re-linked (or even re-compiled) against those changed libraries and delivered in the update process alongside the changed libs. That makes it much easier to keep a system as a whole stable after an update. Try that with Windows computers... I can understand all Windows admins who say that smaller upgrades and patches would cause severe headache among users. However, I can also understand why people point out that this is a strong point in Linux. I just believe that this is not the point that Microsoft should learn from Linux -- or the other way round. The whole business concept and software organisation is too different, it's like comparing apples to pears: while Linux tries to get all third-party vendors into their boat (very successfully, see Mozilla, OpenOffice, nVidia, ...), which is essential for this incremental upgrade process without breaking the system, Microsoft does not offer such a "unified" pool of software. Instead, they would have to offer "backward compatibility layers" with every update, which will be impossible to maintain after three years or so... Justin is right by saying that after three years, the changes of a whole system will just be the same, no matter if done in one big update, or in six incremental ones. However, because of the reasons I mentioned, I believe that users don't notice that difference in Linux (like tip-toeing towards those changes), while for Windows users it's like a "big bang". Cheers, Manfred

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I never said or implied Linux should give up. In fact, I said that Linux was very good from a technical standpoint. My point was that "the market" had never warmed up to Linux after a decade, and that IT and the Linux community should look at why that is and change their approach, rather than keep predicting that "next year" would be the year that Linux mass adoption would begin.

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