Managing Ubuntu Systems, the next step in ease-of-use
(This is a copy of the message I sent to the UbuntuNGO mailing list.) As a system administrator for several years (I got my first sysadmin job back in ‘97), I’ve been frustrated with the lack of manageability of Linux systems. To reduce the cost of managing desktop systems, directory services that provide single-sign-on and centralized management capabilities are needed. Sure, there are things you can cobble together, there are ways you can integrate Ubuntu into an AD network (see this article on “Seamless Smartcard login” for an example), but these things are more complicated than they need to be. And, while I don’t think the goal should integration with AD, when Microsoft provides tools to easily manage computers throughout an organization, the cost of supporting Microsoft systems is going to be less since the cost of licensing is nothing compared to the cost of paying for the increasingly complex IT support Ubuntu requires without Directory services support built in. No, this isn’t a specifically NGO goal, but it is integral to the goal that UbuntuNGO has of getting NGOs to adopting Ubuntu on the desktop. I went through Launchpad looking for blueprints pertaining to management and directory services and found a number of initiatives. The problem, though, is the hodgepodge of efforts and lack of focus. Directory services integration is absolutely vital to getting NGOs and others to adopt Ubuntu on any sort of scale. Canonical and Ubuntu have done a great job of providing an excellent out-of-the box experience for the individual user, but scaling that up to groups of non-technical users needs work. We can make management of Ubuntu systems on a network just as easy as the use of a Ubuntu itself is, but it will take some work and we can’t expect that a great desktop experience will solve all problems. I’m interested in your thoughts.