Kubuntu Linux Emerges From Ubuntu's Shadow

The KDE desktop variant of Ubuntu Linux gets its own commercial support as it begins life away from Canonical.

Thanks to support vendor Emerge Open, the Kubuntu Linux distribution now has its own commercial support for those users and enterprises that need or want it. Kubuntu is the KDE desktop version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution that is commercially supported by Canonical. The primary Ubuntu Linux distribution is based on the GNOME Linux desktop.

"Canonical used to provide a commercial support service for Kubuntu but dropped it last year," Kubuntu developer Jonathan Riddell told eWEEK.

Riddell explained that Kubuntu is one of the flavors of Ubuntu and, along with the flagship Ubuntu Desktop, it gets server infrastructure to build packages and host Kubuntu distribution.

"Canonical provides a lot of staff for the wider Ubuntu project who do work, which makes Kubuntu possible. They also have the trademark which we have been licensed for this support offering to Emerge Open," he said.

Emerge Open is a company based in the United Kingdom that is focused on enabling organizations to more easily use open-source technologies. Riddell noted that when Emerge Open heard about Canonical dropping commercial support for Kubuntu, it saw a business opportunity that could help the project and phoned him to see what they could do.

The commercial support offering from Emerge Open includes options for a single hour of support time, a day rate as well as tailored service-level agreements. While Emerge Open is in the United Kingdom, Riddell noted that it is happy to work with 24-hour support if anyone needs it.

"Support is currently English language, but if there's demand for other languages they will be happy to look into that," Riddell added.

One thing that Emerge Open's Kubuntu support will not initially be including is some form of server system management solution. As part of Canonical's commercial support for Ubuntu, there is a technology known as Ubuntu Landscape that enables organizations to manage multiple systems and servers. Riddell is optimistic that in time Kubuntu and Emerge Open will have something similar.

"At the moment, the support office will set you up with a VNC (Virtual Network Computing) or other login as appropriate to be able to diagnose problems," Riddell said. "We're now looking [to see] if Puppet would be a suitable tool to manage systems for support."

Puppet is a popular open-source configuration management and automation solution.


Getting commercial support for Kubuntu has been an effort over a year in the making and one that has had its fair share of challenges.

"At first we had to fight hard to get Canonical to allow us to use the trademark," Riddell said. "They've scaled back a few of their open-source projects recently, and I think they were surprised to find that in Kubuntu there is an enthusiastic user and developer community who want it to continue."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.