If you've never administered a system before, the transition from being a regular user will be difficult, regardless of which OS you choose to learn to administer. The difficulty stems from the wider shift in thinking that's required. Instead of just making sure your room is clean, now you have to run and protect the whole apartment building. But the difficulty is also educational and rewarding. (We realize they also told you this for your theoretical physics class in college, but we're not lying.) Learning to maintain Ubuntu servers is a great choice for you, because you'll benefit from a vibrant and helpful user community, and you'll be working with a top-notch OS every step of the way.
Just as we were in the final editing stages of this book, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth took the stage with new Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz in front of an audience of 15,000 at Sun's annual JavaOne conference. In 2001, Sun's previous CEO Scott McNealy famously compared running Linux on a mainframe to "having a trailer park in the back of your estate." But standing together in San Francisco, Schwartz and Shuttleworth announced that Sun plans to provide commercial support for Ubuntu Server on Sun's hardware. Meeting with reporters after his presentation, Schwartz called Ubuntu "one of the most important—if not the most important—Linux distribution out there," adding that "the odds are quite good that [Sun] will be aggressively supporting the work that Ubuntu is doing." While it's too early to make any predictions about exactly how Sun's collaboration with Ubuntu will play out, one thing is certain after the JavaOne announcement: the industry sees Ubuntu Server as a very powerful contender in the server OS arena.
If you're a seasoned administrator who came to see what all the Ubuntu Server fuss is about, stay tuned. The project, though rock-solid as far as stability goes, is still in its feature infancy, and the Server Team is working very hard at making it the best server platform out there. We're emphasizing advanced features. We already offer some great clustering primitives, and we will be expanding our clustering support to include resource management and Single System Image (SSI) clustering. We're working on integrating the phenomenal Xen hypervisor into Ubuntu Server. And we're being very fussy about getting all the little details just right.
In both cases, if you're installing a new server, give Ubuntu Server a try. It's a state-of-the-art system, and we're sure you'll enjoy using it. Get in touch, tell us what to do to make it better, and lend a hand. Help us make Ubuntu rock even harder on big iron and heavy metal!