Will Ubuntu Again Benefit From Industry Turmoil?

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News item: Canonical, the organization that leads development of the Linux-based, Ubuntu operating system, releases the first beta version of its "Oneiric Ocelot," the latest version of the OS.

News item: Geeks are taking HP TouchPads and swapping out the WebOS operating software with Ubuntu.

We’ve already taken a look at the alpha versions of Oneiric Ocelot (more commonly known as Ubuntu 11.10), and found a lot to like.

All of this comes during a time of growing turmoil and disruption in the PC space: HP has announced it may leave the PC business, sales growth of Apple’s Mac systems are climbing at a break-neck pace, and use patterns are in the midst of a revolution. The last time there was this much disruption in the PC space was during the revolt against Windows Vista and PC makers including Dell, Lenovo and HP decided for the first time to ship desktops and notebooks that ran Linux-based operating systems.

There are some indications that Ubuntu won’t see any particular benefits this time around. For starters, Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 already looks like it could have a number of break-through features that could make it instantly more competitive than previous OSes. Secondly, Ubuntu shows few signs of being ready to leverage the massive shift to tablet-style computing. And it’s not clear that Tier 1 PC makers profited the last time they pre-loaded Linux operating systems onto personal computers.

Still, Ubuntu 11.10/Oneiric Ocelot has emerged as a snappy, quick and clean operating system that makes getting stuff done much easier than earlier versions of Linux operating systems. And with the world economy either slumping or close to slumping, a “free” operating system may again become a strong choice for those who want a PC hardware upgrade without having to plunk down any more cash on software. And when there is disruption like we’re seeing from HP, from Apple and from use patterns, the market tends to take a broader look at its choices -- and Ubuntu is as viable a choice as it ever has been.

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