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Ubuntu Server Edition: GUI Or No GUI, And Does It Matter?

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Ubuntu

There’s been a lot of ink spilled—er, pixels fired—about Canonical’s decision not to offer a graphical interface in the server edition. The debate is understandable. After all, given Canonical’s professed commitment to ease of use, it might seem a bit strange that Ubuntu Server Edition should not come with some kind of desktop environment by default.

The reasons for making the server edition command line interface (CLI)-only are logical enough. Above all, it’s ideal for experienced system administrators who want their machines to be as lean and secure as possible. Graphical interfaces waste disk space and RAM and are a liability—they represent one more thing that can go wrong to bring the server down, and one more potential gateway into the system for attackers to exploit.

By Your Command

On the other hand, a CLI-only interface is next to useless to most modern computer users, including many skilled system administrators trained in the Windows tradition. This has led to accusations that Ubuntu has no real product to compete with Windows Server, especially in the small-business market, where IT staff tend to be less experienced than those managing an enterprise environment.

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Linux Development and LinuxCon

  • Linus Torvalds says GPL was defining factor in Linux's success
    Linus Torvalds and Dirk Hohndel, vice president and chief of open source at VMware, discussed the role that GNU GPL played in the success of Linux during a keynote conversation this week at LinuxCon NA in Toronto. Hohndel, who has been involved with the kernel for a very long time, said that during the past 25 years there have been many challenges, and one of the biggest challenges was the possibility of fragmentation. "How do we keep one single kernel?" he asked. "I used to be worried about fragmentation, and I used to think that it was inevitable at some point," said Torvalds. “Everyone was looking at the history of Linux and comparing it with UNIX. People would say that it’s going to fail because it's going to fragment. That's what happened before, so why even bother?" What made the difference was the license. "FSF [Free Software Foundation] and I don't have a loving relationship, but I love GPL v2," said Torvalds. "I really think the license has been one of the defining factors in the success of Linux because it enforced that you have to give back, which meant that the fragmentation has never been something that has been viable from a technical standpoint."
  • Making Use Of eBPF In The Mainline Linux Kernel
    One of the exciting innovations within the Linux kernel in the past few years has been extending the Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) to become a more generalized in-kernel virtual machine. The eBPF work with recent versions of the Linux kernel allow it to be used by more than just networking so that these programs can be used for tracing, security, and more.
  • Linux turns 25 with a brilliant history
    Chances are, you use it every day. Linux runs every Android phone and tablet on Earth. And even if you’re on an iPhone or a Mac or a Windows machine, Linux is working behind the scenes, across the Internet, serving up most of the webpages you view and powering most of the apps you use. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Wikipedia—it’s all running on Linux. Now, Linux is finding its way onto televisions, thermostats, and even cars. As software creeps into practically every aspect of our lives, so does the OS designed by Linus Torvalds.
  • Intel Lost Another Open-Source Driver Developer To Google Earlier This Summer
    There was another long-time Intel open-source Linux graphics driver developer that left the company earlier this summer and is now working at Google on the Chrome/Chromium OS graphics stack. Among the notable departures in the past few months from Intel's Open-Source Technology Center were Jesse Barnes, Wayland-founder Kristian Høgsberg, and Dirk Hohndel and apparently others that went under the radar or outside of our area of focus. Another graphics driver developer no longer at Intel is Chad Versace.
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Distro Development: Rescatux and Bodhi

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  • Bodhi 4.0.0 Updates and July Donation Totals
    Late last month I posted a first alpha look at Bodhi 4.0.0. Work since then has been coming along slowly due to a few unpredictable issues and my own work schedule outside of Bodhi being hectic over the summer. Bodhi 4.0.0 will be happening, but likely not with a stable release until September. I am traveling again this weekend, but am hoping to get out a full alpha release with 32bit and non-PAE discs next week.