View Full Version : ubuntu on wallstreet journal

October 6th, 2006, 08:42 AM

You Say You Want a Revolution
New Open-Source Desktop Software Ubuntu
May Challenge Microsoft Windows
October 6, 2006

JAKARTA -- On the top floor of an otherwise nondescript shopping mall in south Jakarta, a little revolution is taking root.

Perched between a meatball-soup stall and a department store stands a modest Internet café called SoNet, indistinguishable from others that dot the Indonesian capital. It's only if you step up to one of the 11 computer screens that you might notice their desktop software looks a bit different: It's not Microsoft Windows, although it looks a lot like it, with its start menus, buttons and windows. And it's not Apple, although with its color palette and uncluttered screen perhaps it could be. It's something called Ubuntu (www.ubuntu.com), which in parts of Africa loosely translates as humanity toward others, and it just might change the way we use computers.

Here's the situation: Microsoft, with its Windows operating system and Office suites, dominates what we call The Desktop -- the programs that make up what you see and work with on your computer. There's Apple, of course, which carves out a significant niche and a loyal following. And then there's something called Linux, an operating system that is free, developed by passionate volunteers but too geeky to make much headway into our cubicles or homes. But some believe Linux can be an open-source alternative -- freely written, and free to tinker with. Chief among these believers is South Africa-born Mark Shuttleworth, a 33-year-old software developer who made enough money from the dot.com boom to first become a cosmonaut, and then pour more than $20 million into something called Ubuntu.

London-based Mr. Shuttleworth believes that while computer hardware -- the physical bits that form your computer or other gadgets -- has gotten more competitive, pushing down prices and pushing up innovation, software has by comparison been stifled by remaining proprietary. By giving away free desktop software, Mr. Shuttleworth believes he can reduce the cost of computing and make it as good as proprietary software. "At that point," he says, "I think we'll see a real surge of innovation."

Doubters should look at what happened to the browser, where open-source Firefox comes up with new features long before Microsoft's Internet Explorer. And it's not that developing a desktop environment is all that new. It's just that Mr. Shuttleworth's millions, and his focus on usability and design, have helped provide the foundation for some solid and professional software.

Ubuntu is pretty easy to install. Just download a single file (or if your Internet connection doesn't like 700 megabyte files, order the free CD) and launch it. The desktop environment itself is familiar enough to figure out but different -- dare I say classy -- enough to make you feel you're entering a new world. And it's not just the basic operating system: Included in the CD is an office suite, a browser and an email program, all of them open source and powerful enough for the needs of an average user.

So is it good enough for prime time and for you? If you're a power user who likes to connect gadgets, install lots of different software and needs things to be just so, then no. If you just want a fully functioning desktop and don't feel like splashing out several hundred dollars on software, then yes.

And while Mr. Shuttleworth hopes Ubuntu will continue to infiltrate desktops in the developed world, his eyes are mainly on the emerging one. In Chennai, Sri Ramadoss Mahalingam, a 23-year-old Indian, began work in August with a dozen fellow volunteers to translate Ubuntu into Tamil. He and his team are about a third of the way through. Not bad, he points out, considering Microsoft only translated Windows XP into Tamil in June -- five years after launch. Perhaps the biggest impetus for change, ironically, may come from Microsoft itself. As the company pushes governments to crack down on rampant software piracy, those in the developing world will have to make a choice between risking arrest and fines or installing legal software they can actually afford, which is likely to mean open-source (free) software.

When rumors reached the Internet café atop the Jakarta mall last year that there would be an antipiracy raid, it was a no brainer: All the customer computers were stripped of illicit Windows copies and converted to Ubuntu or one of its offshoots. Did customers complain? "A few were a little confused at first," says Minie, a member of the staff. "But after a while they didn't notice."

October 6th, 2006, 09:44 AM
rather well writted article I'd say. Always good for advertisement.

October 6th, 2006, 11:57 AM
It is advertisement I believe... :D

October 17th, 2007, 07:19 AM
here is another article about ubuntu on WSJ :

October 17th, 2007, 07:29 AM

October 17th, 2007, 07:53 AM

October 17th, 2007, 08:11 AM
Good article... First paragraph nails my interests. :)

October 17th, 2007, 11:18 AM
That article proves yet once again that linux is a WIN WIN for both consumers AND Micro$oft!

When rumors of a antipiracy raid reaached the café, all the computers were stripped of illicit Windows copies and converted to Ubuntu.
Thank you M$!! I think M$ should threaten many many more raids :)

October 17th, 2007, 11:21 AM
"So is it good enough... If you're a power user who likes to connect gadgets, install lots of different software and needs things to be just so, then no."

The mind boggles. Perhaps MS or Apple will one day ship an OS with a tenth of the power user appeal a GNU/Linux system has - but I won't hold my breath.