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Thread: Do you care, Canonical?

  1. #1
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    Do you care, Canonical?

    Here's a quotation from a review of Edgy Eft:

    On a final note, I think there is a serious flaw in Canonical Ltd.'s business model. Any company that provides a free product and intends to make money primarily from support services for that product is not financially motivated to offer something that works well. Ubuntu Linux will never be perfect because if it were, Canonical, Ltd. would have no support services to sell. Why spend money on release testing when you can make money telling customers how to fix bugs instead? Perhaps that is what truly separates commercial distros from the free-of-charge ones; with commercial operating systems you pay for the company's best effort at creating a perfect software distribution, not a company's best attempt to create a product that requires paid support services. The better Ubuntu gets with its desktop configuration tools and user documentation, the less money Canonical, Ltd. will make. Doesn't quite make sense, does it?
    The review contains a lot of positive stuff... but how would Canonical respond to an allegation like that? If M$ started getting really scared of Ubuntu, would they use a similar argument? If so what would the response be?

  2. #2
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    Maybe they'll say something about the impossibility of creating a bug-free distribution, or about people needing a *specific* kind of support. They'll think of something.

    The real question is, I think, wether the quotation is right or not.
    When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand. - Raymond Chandler

  3. #3
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    I know what my response would be. "Home users will not pay us money for support and business users will need support regardless of how good the OS is. MS and Apple both provide commercial support for their end user despite how "good" their configuration tools are. We will make money mostly from businesses asking for customized distributions that fit their needs not from an 800 support number that tells you how to change your mouse cursor from white to purple"
    Since I get asked alot, I am originally from Ukraine but am Russian by nationality. My nick means specter in Russian.

  4. #4
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    Quote Originally Posted by zugu View Post
    Maybe they'll say something about the impossibility of creating a bug-free distribution, or about people needing a *specific* kind of support. They'll think of something.

    The real question is, I think, wether the quotation is right or not.
    If you go from Warty to Hoary to Breezy to Dapper to Edgy you will see real and obvious improvement in both configuration ease and OOTB support. Hence there is no question, the quote is wrong.
    Since I get asked alot, I am originally from Ukraine but am Russian by nationality. My nick means specter in Russian.

  5. #5
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    Interesting, never thought of it that way. IF that's the model it would be a fine line between creating a quality distro that enterprise would want to adopt and a buggy one that requires constant service.

  6. #6
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    believe it or not but M$ making LOTS of money out of support too , and I mean LOTS of money !
    but in the end windows has much more bugs then Linux, how would you explain that ? how can they SELL you a broken software ? wouldn't they supposed to be motivated to make the best , bug clear software ? the home clients don't pay for support.

  7. #7
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    This is a twist of a classic reliability problem (I don't know if the phenomenon actually has a name).

    If everything you bought was set to self-destruction one day after the warranty runs out, then you would have to buy new stuff every third year or so. Therefore it would be in the manufacturer's interest to make products that didn't last too long.

    There is an obvious flaw in this reasoning though. If there was just one company that made stuff that lasted longer than the common three years, then everyone would start buying their products. The other manufacturers would have to start making better quality stuff or be put out of business. No one likes to buy stuff that won't last.

    Sooner or later these two forces will balance each other and we get products that are reliable but perhaps slightly tilted towards bleeding edge. Making your products last longer does give you less sales - or, in Canonical's case, less support deals - but on the other hand more people will choose your product.

    The article's conclusion is flawed in many other ways too. For one thing, I don't know much about the support business but I can imagine most of the support does not involve bug fixing at all. And as several people here already pointed out, Microsoft and Apple offer support deals just as Canonical and Redhat do.

  8. #8
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    They don't pay for release testing, like the quote says, anyway. We all (well, those of us who don't mind seeing it crash for the sake of going 'oh, i wonder why it did THAT?') download Feisty alphas, go "hey it crashed!" then the next alpha, the betas, until it's stable.

    LinuxChix | Linux User #432169 | Ubuntu User #8495 | IRC: maco @ irc.linuxchix.org or irc.freenode.net

  9. #9
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    That quote is most definitely wrong. I remember back when I tried Ubuntu for the first time (I believe it was only the first or second release). The ease of use was there, but it was too unstable for me. I went straight back to SUSE (which you people know I flip-flop about). It got better and better and now it's not even an issue.

  10. #10
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    Re: Do you care, Canonical?

    Competition is what keeps companies accountable for quality. If Ubuntu created a crappy distro so they could charge for support, what would stop people from using a better distro that also charges for support?

    Also, support is something legitimate companies and workplaces will almost always want to pay for, regardless of the quality of the product.

    By the way, proprietary software is even worse. They charge you for support and...

    1. Won't let you change the code even if you know your tech department can make the product better
    2. Give you only a certain amount of licenses
    3. Give you a crippled version of the product and then charge you more to get real functionality out of it with "add-on" products
    Last edited by aysiu; December 15th, 2006 at 09:26 PM.

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