Shuttleworth additionally has the networking skills which have enabled him to walk a very delicate line between factions in the free and open source community and to avoid unduly annoying any big business rivals. He takes the middle path more often than not and is careful not to get on the wrong side of the ideologues in the FOSS community.
The fact that his company is not headquartered in the US is an advantage - its profile is correspondingly lower. Canonical, which is often erroneously referred to as a UK-based company, is actually registered in the Isle of Man, a self-governing crown dependency, where it does not have to pay corporate tax. Shuttleworth is also a shrewd businessman.
The progress of Ubuntu on the desktop has been helped by SUSE Linux being tainted by the deal that its parent company, Novell, signed with Microsoft in November 2006. Additionally, Red Hat, the Linux company which dominates the business space, has shown a marked reluctance to get involved in providing a dedicated official distribution for the desktop enthusiast. The field has been more or less left clear for Ubuntu.
Shuttleworth has also been helped by the fact that the entire FOSS community is united in support behind at least one thing - the growth of any Linux distribution at the expense of Windows, even if it is not the one they use.
The times have been good to him too. The appearance of the brain-dead Vista by Microsoft could not have come at a better time. Apple's growth has also helped - for all its goodness, it is still a proprietary operating system.
Though it feels like Ubuntu has been around for a long time, it's not even been four years since the distribution was launched. And Shuttleworth himself got into business for the first time just 13 years ago. Remarkable progress, indeed.
The times have suited him and it doesn't look like anything is going to change.
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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.