John Smith's Blog

Ramblings (mostly) about technical stuff

Ubuntu's homepage doesn't mention Linux anywhere

Posted by John Smith on

I primarily use Red Hat/Fedora distributions of Linux; more than anything this is for historical/comfort reasons. Whilst omissions like AVI and MP3 playback are annoying - but perfectly understandable to my mind - at least I "know where the bodies are buried", and can get a new system quickly set up the way I want.

However, to avoid missing out, I usually have one of my spare machines running one of the other current major distros. In years gone by, that would have been Mandrake/Mandriva or SuSE, but these days, of course, it's Ubuntu that has the hype and the mindshare.

Looking to install Ubuntu's new 10.10 release onto a netbook, I searched for some online docs about burning the .iso onto a USB drive, as Fedora's livecd-iso-to-disk didn't seem to want to play with an Ubuntu .iso. However, it turned out that Ubuntu's docs don't acknowledge the existence of anything other than Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu. I guess I now know how the BSD people feel...

Screen grab from Ubuntu website only showing Windows, Mac and Ubuntu as operating systems to choose from

Anyway, this got me thinking: is Ubuntu trying to cover up the fact that it's based on Linux? I grabbed the list of the current top 10 Linux distributions from DistroWatch, added on a couple of the more corporate/enterprisey ones (Red Hat, CentOS and Novell/SuSE), and ran a very simple script to pull down their homepages and count how many times they mention "Linux". Here are results: : 0 : 1 : 131 : 4 : 6 : 148 : 21 : 27 : 54 : 2 : 4 : 6 : 96

The numbers are distorted of course, especially for those that include "Linux" in their brand-name. Fedora and OpenSuSE don't score well, but at least they do both mention it prominently near the top of the page.

However, I finding it galling that in 30-odd kilobytes of HTML, Ubuntu can't find anywhere to mention the (literal) kernel that underlies their product. It's not mentioned on their "How can it be free?" page either - there's just a mention of open source in general (which also implies it's down to the efforts of corporations, and not individuals). It should also be noted that the two mentions of Linux on Lubuntu's home page are just feed links from external sites/blogs.

Maybe we should follow RMS's example and insist on referring to it as GNU/Linux/Ubuntu?

About this blog

This blog (mostly) covers technology and software development.

Note: I've recently ported the content from my old blog hosted on Google App Engine using some custom code I wrote, to a static site built using Pelican. I've put in place various URL manipulation rules in the webserver config to try to support the old URLs, but it's likely that I've missed some (probably meta ones related to pagination or tagging), so apologies for any 404 errors that you get served.

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About the author

I'm a software developer who's worked with a variety of platforms and technologies over the past couple of decades, but for the past 7 or so years I've focussed on web development. Whilst I've always nominally been a "full-stack" developer, I feel more attachment to the back-end side of things.

I'm a web developer for a London-based equities exchange. I've worked at organizations such as News Corporation and Google and BATS Global Markets. Projects I've been involved in have been covered in outlets such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, the Financial Times, The Register and TechCrunch.

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