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A Good News - Bad News Week For Ubuntu Server

Ubuntu's latest Linux server push offers small business users a mix of good and bad news. The good news, however, definitely wins this round.

Ubuntu's latest Linux server push offers small business users a mix of good and bad news. The good news, however, definitely wins this round.Over the past couple of years, Canonical has focused heavily on the SMB market for its Ubuntu Linux products. For Canonical, smaller companies represent a tempting and potentially lucrative opportunity; as Red Hat and Novell continue to push into the enterprise Linux space, their SMB efforts have suffered, at least by comparison.

In order to succeed, however, Canonical needs to accomplish two tasks. First, it needs to get Ubuntu certified on as much top-tier OEM hardware as possible. At the same time, Canonical needs to build a strong network of channel partners and ISVs.

When it comes to hardware certification, Ubuntu is clearly hitting its stride. Earlier this week, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth stated that the company has now certified Ubuntu 9.04 on 45 mid-range servers, including models from HP, Dell, IBM, and Sun Microsystems. According to Shuttleworth, Canonical has never certified Ubuntu on so many hardware configurations prior to releasing a new version.

While Canonical is touting closer working relationships with HP and other vendors, those relationships won't extend to new Ubuntu pre-load agreements -- at least not yet. At least one news site, however, says that Canonical is, indeed, negotiating pre-load agreements with HP and other server vendors. If those deals come to fruition, they will be a big win for Canonical and a big help for small businesses looking for more cost-effective Linux server options.

Now the bad news: According to some Ubuntu-watchers, Canonical's channel development efforts still aren't hitting on all cylynders. This is an area where Red Hat and Novell excel, and it is one where Microsoft continues to show overwhelming strength, as well. If Ubuntu wants to establish itself as a long-term player in the Linux server market, it will have to keep working to build a robust network of resellers, integrators, and independent software vendors.

All in all, Ubuntu's efforts to reach SMB users look stronger than ever. But clearly, Canonical has its work cut out if it wants to grab, and hold, the small-business Linux market.

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