Ubuntu Is Spanking Red Hat, Says Ubuntu Founder
Mark Shuttleworth says his Ubuntu Linux distro has now overtaken arch rival Red Hat when it comes to running the all-important “enterprise workloads” — i.e., the heavy software lifting done by big businesses.
With a blog post on Wednesday, the founder of Ubuntu and its commercial steward, Canonical, cited numbers from web market research firm W3Techs indicating that Ubuntu is now more widely used than Red Hat Enterprise Linux to serve up public web services, and he argues that the same thing must be going on in servers hidden from the public. “The trend is even starker if you look at what we know of new-style services, like clouds and big data, but since most of that happens behind the firewall its all anecdata, while web services are a public affair,” he says.
Also published on Wednesday, W3Tech’s data shows that Ubuntu passed RHEL in June of 2011 on public web sites and hasn’t really looked back. According to the data, Ubuntu is now used by 18.4 percent of public web services while RHEL is used by 12.2 percent.
W3Techs crawls the top one million websites on the net — as defined by Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon, that counts traffic — and then it analyses the technologies underpinning those sites. Thus, the findings represent a subset of computing inside big business. When Wired spoke with Shuttleworth, he acknowledged that this is just one data point — and that there are black holes in this kind of web research — but he still says the numbers show a trend.
“It would be difficult to misdirect this kind of analysis because you’re essentially looking at what people are running on web servers,” Shuttleworth says. “All of them show the same story … which is that Linux continues to do really well — but the mix within Linux is shifting, and really quite quickly this year.”
But Ubuntu still has a ways to go. According to W3C, Unix-based operating systems serve up 63.6 percent of web services — compared to Linux’s 32.8 percent. And Ubuntu still trails Linux distros CentOS and Debian.
Shuttleworth believes that Canonical’s efforts to methodically update Ubuntu have allowed it to make inroads into business. Corporations can see what’s coming down the road and makes the necessary plans to adopt it. The distro’s next version — known as “Precise Pangolin” — was announced three years ago. But, he says, Ubuntu does this in a way that incorporates ample feedback from customers or the community — something he believes Red Hat doesn’t do as well. Red Hat, he says, treats RHEL more like an old school corporate OS, such as Solaris.
Brian Stevens, Red Hat’s chief technology officer, believes the company is doing just fine. “Enterprise Linux, when we released it back in 2001, pioneered the regular release cadence,” he tells Wired. “So we’ve been on this 24 to 36 month major release cycle for 10 years now.” He says that in the enterprise, Red Hat doesn’t come head to head with Ubuntu that often. Typically, he says, Red Hat battles Microsoft’s Windows.
Shuttleworth adds that competing with Red Hat isn’t not Canonical’s number one priority. “Our focus hasn’t been on stepping in front of Red Hat,” he says. “Our focus has been on delivering the full benefits of open source, in the format and economic terms that people want it.”
Got a secret? Email caleb_garling [a] wired.com. Caleb covers tech, but loves other stuff like sports, fiction, beer, fun in remote places and music featuring guitars. Encircle on Google+, subscribe on Facebook or Follow @calebgarling on Twitter.