'Our Releases Are Not Just About Fixing Old Bugs'

by Abhinna Shreshtha    Oct 30, 2009

A day has passed since Ubuntu 9.10 was officially released and the reviews have generally been positive. Kenneth Edwards, global strategic relationship manager, and Prakash Advani, head (central Asia) for Canonical, talked to us about Ubuntu and the future, while also taking a slight dig at Microsoft

People have been talking about the anticipated standoff between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.10, especially with just a few days separating their releases. Any comments?

KE: Trully speaking, there is not much into it. We release new versions every six months. So the release date for 9.10 was planned months in advance. Also, Ubuntu and Microsoft are completely different operating systems, with different designs.

PA: Consider this, the last version of Windows (Vista) came out nearly two years ago, whereas, if you see, we have been regularly releasing new versions of Ubuntu every six months for the last five years.

But surely, from a business viewpoint, having the two launches so close together is significant. How do you see that?

KE: Our new releases are not just about fixing old bugs. Yes, the market is the same, but we do not see the launch of Windows 7 having any major impact. Ubuntu 9.10 has a number of new features that will attract both business and personal consumers.

So, what is the new direction that you have set with Ubuntu 9.10?

KE: Two, really - one is cloud computing and the other is targeting low-cost computing devices (like netbooks, etc). We see cloud computing as the way forward and with 9.10 we have made it easier for an IT manager or a person sitting at home to create personal or business clouds. The inclusion of Ubuntu One (which was beta released in May) as a standard component of the desktop will also simplify backup, synchronization, and sharing of files with an expanded set of features including Tomboy Notes and contacts synchronization.

When it comes to enterprises, another thing that IT managers have realized is that having a low-cost computing device like a netbook as your point of control in the data center is more feasible and more cost effective. This is the reason why we are looking to target computing devices like the netbooks, notebooks, etc., which have a high work-rate, but come at a low cost.

PA: If we talk about enterprise usage, another improvement we have made is upgrading the Javascript. This will make running business applications like CRM, ERP, BI, etc. more efficient. Our enterprise users have already shown a lot of interest in Ubuntu 9.10.

What is the strategy for increasing the penetration of 9.10 in the market?

PA: We are actively targeting OEMs like Intel, Toshiba, Dell, etc. Being a free and open source product, tracking downloads is a difficult process, but with each version we are seeing a steady growth in the number of downloads. In India, we have tied up with an OEM called Simmtronics, which manufactures netbooks, notebooks, etc. We are hoping to leverage their understanding of the Indian market too.