Yesterday [as briefly mentioned in a Pic Of The Day], Jono Bacon (Community Manager of Ubuntu GNU/Linux) came to the BBC to meet with Ashley Highfield, the Director of Future Media and Technology for the BBC (and my boss).
We talked about a number of things to do with GNU/Linux, Ubuntu, its parent company (Canonical), its peers (ie, other distros), free/open source software and building communities. Ashley also reminisced on the time (presumably as a very small child) when he used to programme a PDP-11 in assembly language.
Unix and Unix-alike systems have changed since then, and Ashley was keen to see how, so whilst we were chatting, we had a mini-installfest. We put Ubuntu Gutsy (7.10) on a spare laptop that I had in my office. The install was as painless as I'd imagined - and for anyone with a modern distro, relatively sane hardware and a bit of luck, it can be straightforward. We then moved onto the interesting stuff - setting up the system, showing off the features, pointing out the quirks - and filing bugs - easy when you have someone from the distro next to you :) - etc.
We chose Ubuntu for this demo and installfest because it's current, popular, easy to install, and free. These attributes apply to many other GNU/Linux distributions - Ubuntu was just one of our options.
We'll be coming back to Ashley in a week to see how he got on with it at home. This was a useful and interesting hour-or-so for a few reasons. Ashley's going to see some of the benefits and disadvantages to Linux - we haven't held his hand with this, just installed Ubuntu and let him get on with it. It'll also hopefully spark a few questions for him, and us, about how we work with this - and other free OSs - going forward.
We hope to announce some interesting projects over the next few months, e.g. the P2P Next project I posted about previously. More on this later...