When people develop Internet of Things (IoT) applications, Linux Ubuntu is a popular choice for many of those projects. Here are some useful things to know about it that should help you decide if it might fit into your plans, too.
What Is Linux Ubuntu?
Linux is a collection of operating systems. Ubuntu is a Linux distribution — or distro — containing the Linux operating system. It also has a specific feature set that suits particular applications, including the IoT. So, Linux Ubuntu is an operating system, but people usually call it a distro.
The Benefits of Ubuntu Linux
Choosing an operating system for an upcoming IoT project is not a decision to take lightly. Anyone in this situation would understandably want to know as much as possible about the advantages of Ubuntu over other operating systems. Here are some to keep in mind as you explore the possibilities.
There’s an IoT-Specific Version
As people learn more about their Linux Ubuntu options, they’ll soon find out about Core. It’s a version of Ubuntu designed for IoT devices. Whether people build smart home controls or connected automobile features, this operating system can handle it.
One of the key perks of Ubuntu Core is that it’s a self-updating operating system. Each new update is either entirely successful or it will not install at all. That self-management aspect promotes user-friendliness and productivity. Ubuntu Core is also equally reliable on one device or deployments of thousands of IoT products.
It’s Free and Open-Source
Many business owners are on modest budgets. Fortunately, the operating system cost isn’t an issue when using Linux Ubuntu. That’s because it’s available at no charge. Keeping expenses at a manageable level is particularly important when developing IoT applications. The market typically moves fast, with people trying to release products and devices as quickly as possible. Choosing a free operating system leaves more money in the budget for other development needs.
Linux Ubuntu is also an open-source option. People get access to an active community of fellow users. They can then use the power of the crowd for troubleshooting, advice, and any other needs. Issues with open-source products often get fixed faster than those concerning proprietary software, too. Instead of developers from one company working on the resolution, worldwide users can offer possible solutions.
Linux Ubuntu Handles Real-Time Processing
One of the reasons the IoT has become so widespread is that many applications provide real-time updates. That up-to-the-second data has significantly improved visibility in industries ranging from health care to oil and gas. People no longer need to physically travel to sites to investigate problems or verify normal functionality. They can use connected IoT sensors and remote monitoring systems instead. Then, people can stay safer, be more proactive, and get the information needed for confident decisions.
Thanks to a June 2022 Ubuntu Core release, the operating system can process data on the microsecond scale. That computing speed is especially useful in applications such as stock trading or self-driving cars. Getting information even a second too late could prove disastrous in those applications. This Core update suits people working on low-latency IoT applications.
Long-Term Support Provided
Every Linux distro comes in a standard and long-term support (LTS) version. The main benefit of the LTS option is that it’ll get several years of security and maintenance updates. For example, Ubuntu Core users get a decade’s worth. The standard version only receives nine months of them. Plus, people using the standard version must download every new update to ensure security coverage.
That’s not to say people should quickly disregard the standard version as a non-possibility. It’s just worth pointing out some of the key differences between the two.
Ubuntu has relatively few system requirements, giving people more IoT project options. Computer chips and other hardware are rapidly becoming more advanced. But this operating system should capably run every chip made over the past decade or so.
Individuals working on Ubuntu-based IoT projects can also purchase hardware that goes through an extensive testing process. It gets certified to run on Ubuntu, providing peace of mind and reliability. Those certified products narrow the possibilities, especially for those new to IoT hardware.
Apple has an App Store, and so does Ubuntu Linux. Once people develop IoT applications that work with the operating system, they can distribute them there. Some company owners depend on the IoT to build new lines of business or other profit-generating ventures. The Ubuntu App Store could help them capitalize on their plans by increasing how many people see what they’ve made.
People get numerous benefits once they decide to release their IoT application through the App Store. For example, they can provide over-the-air updates to users. Analytics are also available to show how much traction the app gets over time.
A Security-First Operating System
Ubuntu is an operating system made with security in mind. For example, two confinement levels keep apps isolated from a user’s system. Then, if something goes wrong with the newest release of an app or a hacker infiltrates the system, the consequences are less severe.
Ubuntu also has an automatic scanning feature that checks for code problems and library vulnerabilities. It’s also helpful that Ubuntu Linux is a minimalistic operating system. That characteristic shrinks the attack surface for cybercriminals to target.
An Enthusiastic User Base
Millions of people worldwide use Ubuntu Linux. Anyone with additional questions before using it for an IoT project probably won’t need to look far. Fellow users can also help newbies get off to a good start and avoid some of the common pitfalls.
Making an IoT App Work for Your Business
Deciding whether to pick Linux Ubuntu for your next IoT app is only one of the important questions to answer. Here are some other critical things to consider for getting the best results.
- Who Is the Intended Audience or User Base? Will you market the IoT app to customers or solely use it internally? That question will help you determine how the IoT app will work and what problems it will solve or needs it will fill.
- What’s Your Budget? Figuring out how much you can afford to spend is also critical for allowing you to make feasible plans and know when to cut costs if needed.
- Who Will Build and Maintain It? Does your company have internal team members with IoT app-building expertise? Finding talent elsewhere takes time, but it may be necessary for getting the best results.
- Is the IoT a Long-Term Focus? Does the IoT comprise most of what your employees work on from day to day? If not, be careful not to lose focus on your company’s core competencies. The IoT can boost your business, but you should treat it as something to devote resources to alongside other operations.
- How Will You Prioritize Security? Statistics suggest there will be 29 billion IoT devices in use worldwide by 2030. Even though Linux Ubuntu has security features including and beyond those above, hackers will still see IoT products as attractive, widely available targets.
Is Linux Ubuntu Right for You?
Now that you’ve learned some of the many reasons why Linux Ubuntu is so popular for the IoT and otherwise, it’s time to apply your new knowledge to your specific use case. Consider the advantages above and how they could help your business achieve its IoT application goals. There’s no universal answer about whether Ubuntu is the best operating system for your needs, but you should reach a confident conclusion after thinking about your resources and overall objectives.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.