Ubuntu project founder Mark Shuttleworth has some things to say about the relationship between Ubuntu and Debian. In contrast with some of the less friendly statements made by enthusiasts on both sides of the Ubuntu/Debian divide, Shuttleworth expresses admiration for the Debian project, everything that it has accomplished, and the strong foundation it provides for Ubuntu. He also characterizes Ubuntu not as a competitor, but as a complement to Debian that targets OS market niches Debian does not — that it cannot, really, if it will continue to provide the strong OS foundation that it already does.
I, personally, have some grave reservations about some of the characteristics of Ubuntu. I understand Shuttleworth’s point, however, and agree that the two really shouldn’t be regarded as in competition. Neither should attempt to supplant the other where it serves an otherwise underserved market niche. I still don’t foresee myself ever really wanting to use Ubuntu unless I find myself in the position of developing for it or otherwise directly contributing to the project in some manner. Ubuntu just doesn’t serve my needs the way Debian does.
Despite all this, some nitwit self-identifying as “nick” in the comments claims Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s founder, just “doesn’t get it”. He seeks to educate the Ubuntu founder in the causes of Ubuntu’s success, which in the considered opinion of “nick” is because Debian is “dying”, has too many shortcomings, and suffers an “appalling lack of progress”. Funny, I never noticed any appalling lack of progress, and I’ve been using Debian since before Ubuntu ever existed. I guess maybe I don’t consider bleeding-edge instability to be necessary to the definition of “progress”. Even if I did, I’d just use Debian Sid/Unstable, like about 70% of the Debian user community (according to Shuttleworth’s statistics). Instead, I stick with Testing and Stable, depending on the purpose of the specific computer in question. I also don’t feel a desperate need for the rapid incrementation of version numbers that characterizes the Ubuntu project, especially since the Debian distribution is mature enough that it doesn’t need to do the sort of rapid project development Ubuntu has done in its first two years to find its stride.
In contrast to Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth singing the praises of the Debian project, the Debian founder Ian Murdock is commenting on the surprising usability of Microsoft’s web application, Windows Live Writer. He has also recently commented on the suggestion that Windows would ultimately become a poorly debugged that was put forward by Marc Andreessen in 1995. In short, Murdock suspects that if the network largely obsolesced the local platform, turning it into nothing more than a set of hardware drivers, that would still ensure market dominance by Windows because of wide-ranging “plug and play” hardware support in Windows.
While native support in the Linux idiom provides easier setup and more trouble-free hardware support in cases where the hardware in question has open source drivers, non-native support means a long hard drag installing vendor drivers (if they exist) of half-baked support with generic drivers. In this sense, Windows might very well “win” any marketshare war if driver support were all that was really important about an OS. That, of course, is assuming that under those conditions driver support would be the same for both OSes as it is now. Since that state of affairs is unlikely to ever arrive, I doubt we’ll ever know how that would affect OS marketshare.
To punctuate the end of this entry, I’ll just add one more prominent open source software hacker’s weblog to the lineup of subject matter: Alan Cox’s online diary is in Welsh. Go fig’.