Volume 4, Number 39 -- October 23, 2007

How Is Ubuntu Doing as a Server Platform?

Published: October 23, 2007

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Canonical jumped into the Unix distribution business in October 2004 and got into Linux server distribution in June 2006. With the launch last week of Ubuntu 7.10 for desktops and servers last week and the upcoming launch in April 2008 of a new Long Term Support variant of Ubuntu, it is reasonable to stop for a second and try to assess how well or poorly Ubuntu is doing on servers.

One of the first problems in trying to figure out how Ubuntu is doing on servers is that Canonical and the Ubuntu project that it controls has no concrete numbers on how many Ubuntu distributions are out there in use. Depending on when you ask, the Ubuntu installed base is anywhere from 6 million to 8 million--the larger number was an estimate from last year made by Canonical, and the latter and smaller number is the most recent estimate. Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical's founder, was pressed during the Ubuntu 7.10 for a more precise accounting of the number of server installs, but said that it was not possible given that the Ubuntu project does not require registration for either desktop or server variants of its Linux, nor does it put any tracking software into its installs. Canonical does, of course, know exactly how many Ubuntu licenses are under support, and it is obviously a lot smaller than the millions of licenses that have been distributed in the past three years. And Shuttleworth was not going to divulge these numbers, just like other Linux distributors do not and Sun Microsystems does not with its Solaris 10 variant of Unix, which is freely distributed and open source as well.

The evidence on how Ubuntu is doing on servers is largely anecdotal at this point. "We have seen fantastic adoption of the server product," says Shuttleworth. "ISVs say they see Ubuntu more strongly as a candidate for server deployments."

He cites statistics compiled by open source mail server vendor Zimbra and content management software maker Alfresco Software, which put Ubuntu in second place behind other unnamed Linuxes (presumably Red Hat) as their main deployment platform. Shuttleworth also cites an IDC survey that indicates that nearly a quarter of the businesses surveyed by the market researchers had Ubuntu deployed somewhere. Initial demand for Ubuntu on servers came from programmers and administrators who were using it on their workstations and, in the wake of Ubuntu 6.06 LTS decided to put it on some servers as well.

What Canonical does not yet have is a tier one server vendor deploying Ubuntu on its servers, preloaded and preconfigured. But given Ubuntu's focus on drivers and supporting a wide variety of iron, this seems to be a goal that Canonical can hit if the server makers want to play. Canonical does have some whitebox server makers distributing Ubuntu on machine, but this is mostly in emerging markets outside of North America and Europe. Some big companies are also choosing Ubuntu. The WayBack Machine, a historical archive of the Web, is powered by 1,500 Ubuntu servers, and Joost, the free TV programming site, is also powered by Ubuntu. But for most companies, Ubuntu will start at the edge of the network and move in as larger iron and more databases and middleware get certified to run on Ubuntu. And while Sun doesn't preload Ubuntu on its X64 servers, it has been working with Canonical to get Ubuntu certified on its Sparc T1 and now T2 lines of servers--which it still doesn't preload on the boxes.

"It's not going to happen over night," explains Shuttleworth with regards to adoption of Ubuntu server editions by enterprises. "We know that the server base is the most conservative user of operating systems. But I think we have made remarkable progress after only being in the market for only one year."


Ubuntu Hits Launch Target for 7.10 Linux Release

Canonical, VMware Create Skinny Linux for Virtual Appliances

Ubuntu Opens Up Development for LTS 8.04, Due in April 2008

Ubuntu Puts Out Fifth Alpha of Future Linux

Companies Test on Windows, Deploy on Linux

Sun, Canonical Integrate Java, GlassFish, and NetBeans into Ubuntu

Canonical Updates Ubuntu Linux with 7.04 Release

Ubuntu to Support Linux on Sparc T1 Chips

Ubuntu, Kubuntu Projects Put Out 'Dapper Drake' Betas

Forget Goobuntu as a Commercial or Freebie Linux Distro

                     Post this story to
               Post this story to Digg
    Post this story to Slashdot

Sponsored By

CMG '07 International Conference
Enterprise Computer Performance Management
December 2-7, San Diego

Learn how to master today's most demanding enterprise computer performance management challenges at CMG '07-December 2-7 in San Diego. CMG '07 is the world's largest gathering of IT professionals focused on performance optimization…capacity planning…and resource management for enterprise computing systems. This 33rd annual conference is sponsored by the Computer Measurement Group (CMG), a not-for-profit worldwide association for systems management professionals.

Register today at
Or call 800-436-7264

Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Kevin Vandever,
Shannon O'Donnell, Victor Rozek, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
Contact the Editors: To contact anyone on the IT Jungle Team
Go to our contacts page and send us a message.

Sponsored Links

COMMON:  Join us at the annual 2008 conference, March 30 - April 3, in Nashville, Tennessee
nuBridges:  Linux-based software for electronic data interchange and secure managed file transfer
IT Security:  Solutions for your Windows & Linux environment


IT Jungle Store Top Book Picks

The System i Pocket RPG & RPG IV Guide: List Price, $69.95
The iSeries Pocket Database Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket Developers' Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket SQL Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket Query Guide: List Price, $49.00
The iSeries Pocket WebFacing Primer: List Price, $39.00
Migrating to WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
iSeries Express Web Implementer's Guide: List Price, $59.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Development Studio for iSeries: List Price, $79.95
Getting Started With WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries: List Price, $89.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
WebFacing Application Design and Development Guide: List Price, $55.00
Can the AS/400 Survive IBM?: List Price, $49.00
The All-Everything Machine: List Price, $29.95
Chip Wars: List Price, $29.95

The Four Hundred
State of the System i: First-Hand Reports from Second-Hand Dealers

System i Sales Drop Again in Q3, IBM Says Little

IBM Hit by Financial Services Slowdown in Q3

Mad Dog 21/21: Symphony for the Devil

Four Hundred Stuff
CYBRA Teams with Solzon to Develop i5/OS RFID Software

ProData's Remote Database Access Tool Gains Automation

Real Vision Software Delivers RVI 8.0

Vision Tackles i5/OS Application Performance with Director 7.0

Big Iron
IBM Touts the Power Efficiency of Mainframe Linux

Top Mainframe Stories From Around the Web

Chats, Webinars, Seminars, Shows, and Other Happenings

Four Hundred Guru
Controlling System i Shutdown Activities Using An Intelligent Power-Handling Program, Part II

Converting LF to CRLF in IFS Files

Reader Feedback: More on Vendor Names and Changing System Names

System i PTF Guide
October 6, 2007: Volume 10, Number 40

September 29, 2007: Volume 9, Number 39

September 22, 2007: Volume 9, Number 38

September 15, 2007: Volume 9, Number 37

September 8, 2007: Volume 9, Number 36

September 1, 2007: Volume 9, Number 35

The Windows Observer
Office Communication Server 2007 Launched by Microsoft

Will OCS 2007 Live Up to the Hype?

Zend Puts Out New Release of Commercial-Grade PHP

Growing Businesses, Upgrades Drive IT Hiring in Q4

The Unix Guardian
Sun Elaborates on its xVM Virtualization Plans

Apple's Leopard Mac OS X Server Coming October 26

IBM Hit by Financial Services Slowdown in Q3

As I See It: Great Looking Genes

Four Hundred Monitor
Four Hundred Monitor's
Full iSeries Events Calendar


Storage Guardian
Computer Measurement Group

Printer Friendly Version

Ubuntu Hits Launch Target for 7.10 Linux Release

Novell Delivers Workgroup Software Bundle for SMBs

Intel Is Back on Track in Q3, AMD Is Fighting to Get There

IBM Hit by Financial Services Slowdown in Q3

But Wait, There's More:

IT Managers Do Really Well in Europe, Fair in North America . . . Green Computing Tops Gartner's List of 10 Hottest Technologies . . . How Is Ubuntu Doing as a Server Platform? . . . Argonne Lab Buys First Production SiCortex Supercomputer . . . Hitachi Predicts 4 TB Disk Drives by 2011 . . . Avnet Builds Out EMEA Business with ACAL, Magirus Acquisitions . . .

The Linux Beacon


Subscription Information:
You can unsubscribe, change your email address, or sign up for any of IT Jungle's free e-newsletters through our Web site at

Copyright © 1996-2008 Guild Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Guild Companies, Inc., 50 Park Terrace East, Suite 8F, New York, NY 10034

Privacy Statement