5 things Microsoft Windows users do not know about Ubuntu Linux and its users.

In a recent post titled “5 Things Microsoft does not want you to know about Windows,” I gave 5 very simple and yet powerful points that Microsoft would prefer Windows users not knowing. Most Windows users had to admit that the points were very reflective of the reality on the ground.
Today, I intend publishing a sequel to that post about 5 very basic truths that Windows users do not know about Ubuntu Linux. These points are equally applicable to most other wonderful Linux distros out there and their users. My choosing Ubuntu for this post is just out of personal preference.
Fact 1
The users of Ubuntu are to a certain extent, the owners of the OS. Everyone can participate in the development of the OS irrespective of their technical skills. They determine what goes into the development of the OS and have a lot of say in the kind of functions that the OS comes out with. They can choose to overwhelmingly reject something and the developers would have no choice than to obey. I doubt if Windows users can boast of this level of ownership and control over Windows.
Fact 2
Ubuntu users have the right to distribute the OS to as many people as they like without fear of attracting a lawsuit from Canonical or anyone for that matter. They can do as many reinstalls as they wish and on as many computers as they like. If you want to know the benefit of such freedom, ask businesses about the cost of deploying Windows on their systems. Say that about Windows!
Fact 3
Ubuntu users have one of the best support communities on the planet. If you have any problem and need help, all you have to do is just log on to the Ubuntu Forums, search and see if someone has a thread similar to your problem and if not, just start another one and in most cases, it takes only some few minutes to have someone reply to your thread with as much support as you can get. The Ubuntu Forums also has some downsides though but is mostly very helpful to everyday users. Well I cannot say for certain if Windows users have a support community as vibrant as what Ubuntu users enjoy.
Fact 4
Ubuntu users, relative to Windows users, do not wait for eternity to have patches to critical security flaws that are discovered in their system. Most at times it takes just hours to have an update to security flaws that are discovered. Say that about Windows updates and patches.
Fact 5
Ubuntu Linux users can alter their OS or recreate another OS from its code. This is because the code is available to them to use as they want. You don’t like the way Ubuntu runs or works? Grab the code (if you have the requisite skills), and make your know flavor of Ubuntu Linux, bearing in mind patented and copyrighted names, logos and other Canonical closed source inputs. Its free to do. Windows? Well the code is under lock and key. Period.
There are potentially hundreds of other points that can be made but I will restrict myself to these five and leave you to give the rest in the comments. If you are a Windows users, I would love to hear your views on these simple and very powerful things you do not know about Ubuntu and its users. Talk back!

8 Replies to “5 things Microsoft Windows users do not know about Ubuntu Linux and its users.”

  1. Fact 1 is incorrect. Canonical owns "Ubuntu" — not ubuntu endusers. If you want, you can re-distribute modified code (minus the closed-source and/or commercial stuff that Canonical has been putting into Ubuntu, such as Ubuntu One and their new server service — I don't know whether their new spyware Firefox plugin called "multisearch", that intercepts users' google data, is re-distributable. But why would you want to re-distribute spyware?)

    But you're certainly not entitled to redistribute your modified ubuntu using anything resembling the name "Ubuntu" or you'll get a nasty letter from canonical's legal dept.

    There is nothing about fact 2 that you can't better get from numerous other linux distros. In fact, an ubuntu dev recently made the decision to include Mono by default install despite the objections of numerous ubuntu users. And before you go on too much about how ubuntu users love software freedom, and freedom from MS, maybe you should look into what Mono is.

    Fact 3 is highly debatable. I find ubuntu's community to be largely ignorant of the broader linux landscape, and the "quality" of their "assistance" is accountably of questionable value. In a nutshell, you'll find lots of bad and wrong "answers" from the ubuntu community. If you have a difficult linux question/problem, you'll instead want to go to the arch, gentoo, or debian communities.

    Fact 4 is also false. Distrowatch published a security survey that demonstrated that security patches for ubuntu appear later than several other distros, such as Debian.

    Fact 5 is also misleading. Ubuntu is not known for its customization. If that's what you want, there are much more apropos distros, such as arch. Actually, Ubuntu is difficult to customize (beyond the GUI) because canonical substitutes a lot of well-documented code (such as the sysv init system) with its own proprietary, poorly documented stuff (such as upstart).

  2. Why so Ubuntu-ish[?], many Linux distro have active forums, are customizable and almost average distro make their source code available to download.

  3. Ubuntu users eat rocks for breakfast?

    No seriously… I'm not real sure about the community voice thing though. I've seen at times users be pretty adamant about software that Ubuntu has choosen to put/not-put in and gone the other way. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, either. Good post.

  4. WOW! You're sure a brave anonymous guy there, you also seem fairly bitter about something, and are patently Wrong as well.

    I don't normally read blogs from Africa, but I got this link emailed to me in a google alert and I think I will lend my hand in Ubuntu fashion to Sinaisix. Not that he needs it, but I can't leave that first comment alone.

    Fact1: Canonical Inc., the business arm that started the Ubuntu foundation and offers paid support of Ubuntu GNU/Linux as part of their business model do _not_ own the software nor the source code to the software they publish. It is all licensed by the GNU-GPL which makes it Free Software and owned by the community at large. I could download the latest release of Ubuntu, do nothing more then change all the occurrences of "Ubuntu" to any name I choose, and release the result as my own GNU/Linux distro quite legally.

    Canonical actually helps the community make related versions(check out https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DerivativeTeam/Derivatives), and there are many other "brands" of GNU/Linux that are based on the Ubuntu release cycle due to it's progressive nature and the size and coherence of the Ubuntu support community.

    Regarding Sinaisix 2nd fact: He is 100% correct, because all the software in the Ubuntu distribution is GNU-GPL licensed, it's users enjoy all the freedom they can imagine in using the distribution. Other distributions of 100% GNU-GPL software also all their users this kind of freedom. Distributions such as SuSe, are not freely distributable due to the non-free nature of some of the code in the software.

    Regarding Mr.Anonymous's response to fact #3, he has a right to an opinion and I have a right to think he is bitter and has an axe to grind and is dumb for suggesting the forums he chose over the Ubuntu Forums. They have been helpful to me on numerous occasions although I am aware there are nefarious individuals that purposefully give bad advice. These people exist in all support forums, and are actively weeded out by moderators in the Ubuntu forums.

    Sinaisix's fact 4 is also 100% correct. Wrong again Anon#1. Nowhere does Sinaisix say Ubuntu is faster than any other primary distro such as Debian. I will take hours after release by a primary distro(such as Debian from which Ubuntu its based) which are ready only hours after an issue is found, to days, weeks, and months afterwards as is the case with proprietary software such as M$ Windows.

    Anon#1's screwed up again trying to sound informed and relevant on Fact5. Ubuntu is absolutely known for it's customization. Mainly in regards to it's Live Disk. See the link of derivatives above please. Also, for the record Canonical did indeed pioneer the upgrade from Sys-V to Upstart. Debian developers were so impressed that Debeian now now uses it, and Upstart will be added to fedora by Red Hat to try it out for inclusion into RedHat Enterprise Linux

    The _only_ real mis step in Sinaisix's blog is he may overstate the weight the community of users has in the direction of the distribution…but he does not actually say this. And I believe he is right; if all users quit using one of the default apps and started using another one, I think Canonical would indeed respond by changing that app.

    At no time did Sinaisix say anything about Ubuntu being better or worse than any other distribution of GNU Linux. He was making a subjective comparison of Ubuntu GNU/Linux to Microsoft Windows.

  5. @Dave … you're more brave than Anon#1 because you listed your name as "Dave" and not "Anon"?

    > It is all licensed by the GNU-GPL which makes it Free Software and owned by the community at large

    Um, no. GPL is a license a programmer can use to defines the terms under which his/her code can be modified, used, and distributed. Nowhere in the gpl does it say anything about the author giving up "ownership" of the code.

  6. >> It is all licensed by the GNU-GPL which makes it Free Software and owned by the community at large

    >Um, no. GPL is a license a programmer can use to defines the terms under which his/her code can be modified, used, and distributed. Nowhere in the gpl does it say anything about the author giving up "ownership" of the code.

    True but I think he was only saying that as the software that Ubuntu distributes in primarily GPL (but remember there are others, BSD, Apache, etc.), it comes from and was written by members of the community at large, not that those members of the community gave up ownership.

    Even though most of the software Ubuntu uses is free software (as in freedom), some of it is not and they provide a non-free repository. For that reason, there exist distros that reject non-free software, and even deblob the kernel to not support non-free drivers and firmware. For example, I use gNewSense (http://www.gnewsense.org)

  7. Ubuntu did nothing special at all to give users a more easy experience other than giving out free CDs and having an astronaut as main speaker ..

    Other than that, I hate Ubuntu, and I have many good reasons to do that.

    Give us Debian back and bury Ubuntu, send it back to the Shuttle where it came from.

    Ubuntu is all about bells and whistles ..

    Ubuntu brags about a new release which is just the same old with new packages (wow?) ..

    Ubuntu has the most confusing wiki I've ever seen, someone should organize this piece of mess.

    Ubuntu users share alot of wrong HOWTOs that only ignore the symptom of the problem but doesn't fix it ..

    Ubuntu users are either people who doesn't want to bother installing another distro and just want a quick desktop, or people who are beginners, which should not be confused with that Ubuntu is better than openSuSE or any of the other distributions around.

    Ubuntu attracted alot of linux-users, YES! The only good thing about Ubuntu ..

    Ubuntu came at the right time (No good Debian-based distributions at the time) and with Free CDs. People were sick of another beginner-distro with rpm.

    You don't learn anything from these gnomish lookalikes, you learn something from a distribution with a decent documentation like a more efficient wiki than what they have now .. They should rather explain common issues than how to install Ubuntu or try to sell support to the neverending stream of Windows-users coming to Ubuntu.

  8. One point about fact 4. Microsoft came MS09-001, which was for a vulnerability in SMB. If memory serves, this vulnerability was originally reported circa 1998(!) and finally fixed in January 2009.
    The workaround to defeat the patch was released two or three days later.

    Generally speaking, you are correct in that patches are completed within hours or days of the report of a vulnerability in Linux. However, more and more often, I am seeing posts such as "we found a vulnerability in this application…Oh, and here is the patch."

    Great article series. Keep up the good work.

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