Taking a bank loan to buy a PC
I remember the summer before starting my 1st highschool year when I didn’t have access to a computer, let alone one with Internet. The only 2 ways I was able to use one was either through a friend whose parents have struggled into acquiring a PC (we all were, back then) by taking a bank loan or, by spending the maximum allowed time which was 1h/day, at the public city library.
And, since that special friend with a computer had 2 more brothers, whenever I came by his house, they were taking turns on who’ll use the PC. Even if time was always against us, those were the sweet days when me and my friend got to learn C & C++ from a 800 pages book (bought with my 6 months lunch money savings).
Almost every single day, after school, I was switching between my friend’s house and that public library. That library also tought me how to type. Really fast. Remember that I was allowed to spend only 1h/day on those PCs.
The library by the way, had Linux on their PCs. And because of how strange it looked to me in comparison with Microsoft’s XP my friend had back home, I got curious, I needed to know what exactly was that OS the library’s PCs were operating on. So, I started searching.
Back then, people around me didn’t know about Google and what it represented. I started doing all sorts of queries/searches until I finally got my answer: the library was using Red Hat. But I was noticing that most of my results, ended up mentioning the friendlier Linux distribution ever: Ubuntu.
The times when people ordered Canonical’s Ubuntu
I got to see all these forums where people kept helping one another, from entry to expert levels. There was so much hype around Ubuntu, I just couldn’t stay away. In that summer before starting highschool I came across their old “ShipIt” page from Canonical, which, I believe everyone remembers, was one of the most popular ways for Canonical to get their operating system onto people’s PCs, even if it meant traveling continents.
But, the ordering process asked me all sorts of questions and they were mostly looking for a good a reason to send me Ubuntu CDs. Then, it came to me: since I was about to go to a mathematics – informatics highschool, why not tell them I’m planning on being a network administrator which needs a lot of Ubuntu CDs and replace Windows on every PC I’d get my hands on?
And guess what? 2 months after I started highschool, Canonical sent me 4 boxes of various Ubuntu versions (both desktop and server), each with 10 CDs. I just don’t think I can blog enough on how I felt when I opened those boxes at the custom office.
In times when I was using Altavista, Google and Yahoo! for the same search on the Internet just to make sure I’ve searched and found everything on the subject I was interested in, in times when I was using @yahoo.ca instead of @yahoo.com because Yahoo! Canada offered 2 extra MB for my e-mail or, in the same times when everyone, and I mean everyone was playing games on Windows XP and I was instead discovering HTML & CSS from the books I was renting (from that same public city library), all of those experiences together, still didn’t match the feeling Canonical woke up inside of me, when I first saw those CDs.
3 more months later, I finally got my own PC too. I then saw how different and friendly another operating system that you don’t have to pay for, works. And, as I was going even deeper online and getting feedback from the community, I started feeling like I can do things a lot more peaceful and more importantly: the way I wanted.
I started customizing it, updating it, rebuilding it, sharing my findings with the Ubuntu forums. I started being part of something much greater. And, I felt free and more altruistic than ever both online and because I started helping people.
Ubuntu, from Unity, switching back to GNOME
Back then, Ubuntu was using GNOME before the Unity environment it tried developing for the past 6 years. 13 years later from when I got my first Ubuntu CDs shipped, I’ve achieved what I’ve set to accomplish: being both a user and a network administrator that relies on Ubuntu, working for a company that relies mostly on Ubuntu servers too. Because, Canonical persisted and believed in its product which it developed around its own community. And it now seems that, it’s switching back to GNOME, getting back to its roots starting next year with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.
The reason for this action is, as Mark Shuttleworth (founder of Ubuntu and Canonical) describes it, because “[…] markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear.” And Unity hasn’t been too much appreciated.
In my personal opinion, Ubuntu’s Unity could’ve been a very good alternative to what Microsoft has achieved with Windows 8 and 10 but, it didn’t quite reach the company’s goals. And since the community is more into the GNOME than Unity environment, Shuttleworth had to make this decision. Even I, don’t use Unity and that’s the same case for the people I know that are using Ubuntu. Here’s how Shuttleworth ends his announcement:
“The cloud and IoT story for Ubuntu is excellent and continues to improve. You all probably know that most public cloud workloads, and most private Linux cloud infrastructures, depend on Ubuntu. You might also know that most of the IoT work in auto, robotics, networking, and machine learning is also on Ubuntu, with Canonical providing commercial services on many of those initiatives. The number and size of commercial engagements around Ubuntu on cloud and IoT has grown materially and consistently.
This has been, personally, a very difficult decision, because of the force of my conviction in the convergence future, and my personal engagement with the people and the product, both of which are amazing. We feel like a family, but this choice is shaped by commercial constraints, and those two are hard to reconcile.
The choice, ultimately, is to invest in the areas which are contributing to the growth of the company. Those are Ubuntu itself, for desktops, servers and VMs, our cloud infrastructure products (OpenStack and Kubernetes) our cloud operations capabilities (MAAS, LXD, Juju, BootStack), and our IoT story in snaps and Ubuntu Core. All of those have communities, customers, revenue and growth, the ingredients for a great and independent company, with scale and momentum. This is the time for us to ensure, across the board, that we have the fitness and rigour for that path.”
I’m still excited to see how these changes will impact the community and Ubuntu’s next products in the following years.