Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Ubuntu

Mark Shuttleworth Answers Your Questions 236

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask Canonical Ltd. and the Ubuntu Foundation founder, Mark Shuttleworth, anything about software and vacationing in space. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. Make sure to look for our live discussion tomorrow with free software advocate and CTO of Rhombus Tech, Luke Leighton. The interview will start at 1:30 EST.
The Next Frontier?
by eldavojohn

We've seen Linux go from servers to supercomputers to smartphones in a very explosive manner but not as pervasively on the personal computer. What, in your opinion, is the next frontier for Linux and is that frontier part of Canonical's future?

Shuttleworth: The really interesting opportunity is to unify all of these different kinds of computing. Let's make one OS that runs on the phone AND on your supercomputer. We're close to that now - we know Ubuntu makes a great cloud OS and a great server OS and a great desktop. So I think the next frontier is to create a seamless experience from the embedded world to the cloud. And yes, that's very much what we are focused on at Canonical.



How to succeed on the desktop?
by paulpach

Linux is a huge success in mobile. Linux is a huge success in servers (and Ubuntu in particular seems to be doing very well in servers, congratulations). But Linux on the desktop seems to be going nowhere fast as far as market share is concerned. In your opinion, what would have to happen in order for Linux to start gaining ground in the desktop?

Shuttleworth: The mobile world is crucial to the future of the PC. This month, for example, it became clear that the traditional PC is shrinking in favor of tablets. So if we want to be relevant on the PC, we have to figure out how to be relevant in the mobile world first.

Mobile is also interesting because there's no pirated Windows market. So if you win a device to your OS, it stays on your OS. In the PC world, we are constantly competing with "free Windows", which presents somewhat unique challenges.

So our focus now is to establish a great story around Ubuntu and mobile form factors - the tablet and the phone - on which we can build deeper relationships with everyday consumers. All the major PC companies now ship PC's with Ubuntu pre-installed. So we have a very solid set of working engagements in the industry. But those PC companies are nervous to promote something new to PC buyers. If we can get PC buyers familiar with Ubuntu as a phone and tablet experience, then they may be more willing buy it on the PC too.



Tablets
by thePsychologist

Hi Mark! It seems based on your blog and other sources that an Ubuntu tablet is definitely planned and should be in the works at least sometime in the next year. When do you think consumers will be able to walk into any decently-sized electronic store and pick up an Ubuntu-based tablet?

Shuttleworth: No pre-announcements here, sorry!

But yes, we've said clearly that the phone and tablet are key stories we need to tell by 14.04 LTS. So I hope that by then you'll know when and where to expect it in-store :)



Oracle certification
by hawkinspeter

Will Ubuntu ever be a certified platform for running Oracle databases?

Shuttleworth: That's not really something I can say "yes" to ;)

We do know that there are some very large Oracle databases running on Ubuntu, and the people running them get all the support they need from Oracle. If you're a large Oracle shop, call them up and ask for support on Ubuntu. But of course, with Oracle's own Linux now in the market, Oracle is unlikely to promote another Linux until they change strategy.

Nowadays, we get asked about this very rarely - people seem to have moved to care a lot more about Hadoop and some of the newer big-data options than they do about traditional SQL. And of course Ubuntu is by far the most popular OS for large big-data deployments. Perhaps for that reason we are not pushing Oracle very hard ourselves - we've met a few times and their reaction has been some corporate equivalent of .



Re:A couple of questions
by cheesybagel

Why doesn't Ubuntu include Android emulation so people can run their vast catalog of Android apps on their laptop, tablet or the like?

Shuttleworth: Because no OS ever succeeded by emulating another OS. Android is great, but if we want to succeed we need to bring something new and better to market.

If we said we aimed to run Android apps, then two things would happen. Every developer that potentially cared about Ubuntu would feel it was OK to just write an app for Android. And every bug that would be specific to our implementation of Android's APIs would of course be a bug for us to fix, not a bug for the app developer. So, we won't do that.



Touch-a-touch-a-touch me...
by Count Fenring

Unity, like most other operating system visual shells, is moving in a decidedly touch-oriented direction. Has this actually proved beneficial in pushing forward an OS that's primarily in use on servers and workstations? Have users (as a percentage of total OS users, or as a percentage of total Linux users) risen or declined since Unity was introduced?

Shuttleworth: Unity positions itself to be *ready* for touch-only platforms like the tablet and phone, but the desktop flavour of Unity is optimized for the desktop. That's why we have such great support for keyboard navigation and hotkeys, why we have menus and indicators that you really need a mouse and keyboard to use. Yes, we have big app icons. But so have some desktop shells for 15 years (before the NextStep Dock, even).

On balance, I think Ubuntu's share of users has continued to rise, based on trends in hard-to-fake sources like Wikipedia traffic logs. Unity is by far the most widely used shell on Ubuntu, despite the depressed-hipster "can't live with unity" meme. And the fact that the other DE's that are shooting for the future are adding bits and pieces of the Unity design suggests that we're on a good track. I'm rather proud of introducing several ideas before they showed up in MacOS and Windows, and I think we have more in the pipeline like that.

Unity was TWO big changes. First, there was the set of changes themselves. That's always hard - there's no way to change huge chunks of the big open source desktop in one fell swoop and get it all perfect in less than six months. So 11.04 was hard, it got better steadily, and it's really fantastic now. And second, there was a cultural shift. Ubuntu shifted towards leadership rather than simply integration. We thought design was important, we talked to the folks responsible for all the current DEs at the time, and they didn't seem to understand what was going to be the reality of personal computing - a highly mobile oriented world. So we led, and I'm glad we did, even though it is hard to do that.

It was very frustrating for us to essentially feel blocked from contributing - design or code - in the existing free desktop communities. It was weird when it became more productive to collaborate with KDE than with the core GNOME maintainers. But we couldn't let petty politics stop us - we're the only company that really cares about the desktop, and even though it hurt to be pushed out of the nest of existing partner communities, sometimes you have to decide to fight for what you believe in. And we did.



Losing its Lustre
by Skunk

Do you feel that Ubuntu might be losing its way amongst the more technical users with some of the decisions that are being made? For example, forcing a beta-level UI onto users for 3 versions of Ubuntu from 11.04-12.04, integrating paid search results from Amazon etc. Linux Mint, which is rapidly growing in popularity, would seem to be a backlash against Unity and is a splintering of Ubuntu (in fact the vast majority of packages are identical to Ubuntu). Do you therefore feel that Ubuntu's popularity has reached its peak and is at risk of stagnating or declining?

Shuttleworth: We are all at risk of stagnating if we don't pursue the future, vigorously. But if you pursue the future, you have to accept that not everybody will agree with your vision.

The raw numbers suggest that Ubuntu continues to grow in terms of actual users. And our partnerships - Dell, HP, Lenovo on the hardware front, and gaming companies like EA, Valve joining up on the software front - make me feel like we continue to lead where it matters.

The Linux distro market has always been highly fragmented and ideological. Nothing new there.



Do you get tired of all the bickering?
by olau

It's evident Canonical and you personally as dude-in-charge have received a lot of flak over the past years, especially as you have started producing more software in-house rather than relying on upstream. Linux seems to attract a horde of vocal fans that aren't afraid to complain when things aren't going their direction. Does that get on your nerves or have you learned to live with it? Are you happy as dude-in-charge-of-product?

Shuttleworth: Yeah, I've been quite astonished at the level of vitriol and paranoia that pervades some of the opinion-fests that pass for discussion and debate in the FLOSS community. And quite disappointed that more folk don't appreciate that we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shift the world towards a much more open platform than ever before, but that nasty flaming of individuals who lead that effort, whether its me or anyone else, is totally counter-productive.

I made the commitment to Ubuntu because I had opinions about how free software should steer itself to being the standard way people to software, and I felt that it was pointless to have opinions and not be willing to stand by them with personal skin in the game. If you're not willing to do real work to achieve the outcome you believe in, then you're just another empty vessel with an opinion. And as the saying goes, opinions are like assholes - everybody's got one. What matters is the people who are willing to knuckle down and do real work to make a difference.

And Ubuntu has attracted a very large number of those - not just the folks who you'll find in the headlines, but an astonishing number of great people who just help out because they can and they care. If FLOSS does get over the hump of common acceptance, it will be because of those (often unsung) heroes, not because of the big mouths of ideologues.



Balance between software freedom and usability?
by Bradmont

Ubuntu has made decisions that have been less than popular with the Free-software only crowd. Personally, I benefit from these decisions, for example, via easy access to Nvidia and Broadcom drivers on my laptop, but I also see the importance of the other side of the argument. What is your short- and long-term perspective on including restricted drivers and non-free software in Ubuntu? Is your approach simply pragmatic, do you hope to bring long-term change in industry practices by making free software a viable and important desktop platform, or something else entirely? Thanks!

Shuttleworth: Well, I feel the same way about this as I do about McCarthyism. The people who rant about proprietary software are basically insecure about their own beliefs, and it's that fear that makes them so nastily critical.

If your way of seeing the world IS genuinely more productive, effective, efficient, insightful and usable, then you should be confident that you will win in the long term, and folk who dabble in a different way of working will come to realize that you're right eventually. If FLOSS really is a better way for Oracle to do their thing, then the more we get them doing with FLOSS, the more likely they are to promote the people who are successful around that approach.

So I think Linus has been very smart to have a broadly permissive attitude to proprietary drivers in Linux, for example. He can still give a company the finger for being uncollaborative, but note that he was not being ideological about licenses, he was focused on the quality of engagement - about getting stuff actually working. That strikes a good balance in the kernel, where we want the core to be pretty definitively copyleft, but its good to let hardware companies dabble in non-free drivers if that's what they think is best. If we're right about the benefits of FLOSS, they'll get there in due course. That's why I was so happy to have Canonical leading a lot of the work around ARM Linux - those guys were all investing a lot, inefficiently, and we thought that if they tried a better way, they would like it and grow around it, and now Linaro is a lovely success story.

If you think you'll convince people to see things your way by ranting and being a dick, well, then you have much more to learn than I can possibly be bothered to spend time teaching.



Cool hack
by vlm

Describe a hack that you personally participated in that you find cool. Not you paid someone to ... or I once saw someone else ... or you bought something cool that ... I mean traditional hack like "identify problem" "flash of insight in ur brain" "minutes to days of sweat using techie tools" "something cool now exists, lookit". I don't care about the subject as long as its vaguely slashdot style technical and you think its cool and the slashdot audience would think its cool. The coolest hack is not necessarily the biggest or most famous, either. Maybe you have a hobby where you personally programmed the worlds coolest Christmas light display on your house, or you handmade a truly elaborate model railroad fully articulated draw bridge, I donno, whatever floats your boat. TLDR just tell your hack story, and make it cool.

Shuttleworth: I love design - and especially in combining ideas in ways that make them both better. A recent project was figuring out how we want to fit our phone, tablet and desktop stories into one coherent whole. I quite like the solution we came up with. Tell me if you like it after 14.04 LTS ;)



Governmental Roles In Space?
by eldavojohn

Since you like to comment on both government interaction with businesses and seem to be interested in space travel, what is the appropriate level of the government's role in space? Can you define what is too little and what is too far? What, if anything, should each nation regulate? Are nationalistic programs and races good for space travel or should it just all be privatized and given a sort of 'international waters' anything goes freedom?

Shuttleworth: The national space missions should be exploratory and seeking to push back boundaries, not crowding out the basics. I think the agencies failed to recognize that they could facilitate private sector activity in areas they pioneered, so we got stuck in agency-monopolized access to low earth orbit for decades. That is changing now, and the real win will be that agencies get lower-cost lift and certification and training options that let them plan the really pioneering missions of tomorrow - Mars and the outer planets.

Regulation is good for established markets - I generally like to see governments regulate hard to achieve efficiency and level playing fields in markets. What gets broken is government actors that participate directly, as Fannie and Freddie do in real estate in the US, for example. But I'm not a libertarian (apart from a brief spell in student days) - I've seen far to much corrupt and nasty behavior by corporates that act in a very narrow set of interests.

So, when you take that trip to low-earth orbit, or parabolic firecracker ride courtesy of one of the space tourism operators, you'll be glad of a regulatory framework that aims for passenger safety. And the professional astronauts, who don't really give a hoot about personal safety beyond the obvious "don't be an idiot with my life", will be glad for the access to deep space that they would get courtesy of a vibrant market in the "easy" stuff.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mark Shuttleworth Answers Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • by Fwipp (1473271) on Monday December 10, 2012 @12:53PM (#42243347)

    "Shuttleworth: I love design - and especially in combining ideas in ways that make them both better. A recent project was figuring out how we want to fit our phone, tablet and desktop stories into one coherent whole. I quite like the solution we came up with. Tell me if you like it after 14.04 LTS ;)"

    Microsoft was doing this before it was cool!

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:18PM (#42243587)

      ... but they were doing it very badly. Really, I think they still are. Despite how badly I dislike some aspects of Unity, I think it's a slightly better effort than Microsoft has put out.

      • Despite how badly I dislike some aspects of Unity, I think it's a slightly better effort than Microsoft has put out.

        And this, children, is called "damning with faint praise."

        Also known as "clearing a bar buried six feet below the surface." ;)

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        I thought he was referring to the low grade marketoid-speak... Can anyone translate "stories" in this context?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft... the pinnacle of imitation.... Always the best place to imitate if you wanna be innovatiERROR 509: TOO MUCH SARCASM!

  • Life In A Vaccuum (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Alright, all you depressed-hipsters, Mark has had enough of your bitching about Unity. He sees it as an improvement and says that the numbers show growth despite Unity, so STFU.

    This attitude along with the Amazon Lens search spyware tells me the Ubuntu is done. It's up to you to make it happen. Will you make a stand or continue to be bleating sheep?

    • by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Monday December 10, 2012 @06:02PM (#42246463)

      Irony, noun: Slashdot reader tells others they are living in a vacuum and don't understand reality.

      I love it here, but the "normal" here is so far from reality that its hard to not see the irony when you tell someone else they're living in a bubble. If you took /. at face value, Linux won 12 years ago, Bill Gates has made a baby-puppy-kitten hybrid just so he can stomp all three at once and get through his busy schedule faster, and Skynet became active 18 minutes after assembly of its base Beowulf cluster of Raspberry Pis was complete.

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      Already switched away from it.. Trying Mint and openSuse right now...

    • Will you make a stand or continue to be bleating sheep?

      Presumably if Ubuntu's numbers are growing, then people are making a stand. It's just a pro-Unity stand rather than an anti-Unity stand.

      Last time I looked, nobody was forced to use Ubuntu if they didn't want to ...

    • by westlake (615356)

      Will you make a stand or continue to be bleating sheep?

      Ubuntu has strong OEM support --- and is positioning itself as a mass market *NIX based OS. That strategy has worked out rather well for both Apple and Google.

  • by Minter92 (148860) on Monday December 10, 2012 @12:53PM (#42243359)

    " The really interesting opportunity is to unify all of these different kinds of computing. Let's make one OS that runs on the phone AND on your supercomputer. "
    That just sounds horribly efficient. The needs of the different types of computer platforms are all quite divergent. The small power saving OS on a tablet focused on user interactions has almost no relation to what is needed to run a petaflop computing platform. They may both be based off the same core kernel but to have the same code just seems daffy.

    • by MrLeap (1014911) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:32PM (#42243703)
      Perhaps what he's talking about is merely an interface that allows commands and things to be environment agnostic. A portable operating system interface, if you will. POSIX would be a good acronym.
    • by gmuslera (3436)

      The key could go around user interfase personalization. Or different flavors of the same interface, but targetted for different input devices. Like KDE Plasma Active vs KDE.

      In any case, there is always (will be?) the option to use another user interface.

    • The really interesting opportunity is to unify all of these different kinds of computing. Let's make one OS that runs on the phone AND on your supercomputer.

      That just sounds horribly efficient. The needs of the different types of computer platforms are all quite divergent. The small power saving OS on a tablet focused on user interactions has almost no relation to what is needed to run a petaflop computing platform. They may both be based off the same core kernel but to have the same code just seems daffy.

      Your example is already wrong.

      Second largish group of Linux kernel developers interested in the power saving features was the HPC folks. Think of it, if you have a petaflop cluster, every saved watt on one node quickly translates into saved kilo/mega watts across the cluster. And the reason for interest is obvious: price of electricity keeps climbing up.

      It went similarly with the hot-plug functionality: it's the same code in kernel which is responsible for the plug/unpug of a HDD on the storage and a

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday December 10, 2012 @12:56PM (#42243381)
    What the hell, man?
  • by nebular (76369) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:02PM (#42243427) Homepage

    Nice answers for the most part (except of curse for the cool hack question, kinda took a pass on that one). Little bit more than you would usually get from a corporate executive. Seemed to me like he answered the questions and got either a thumbs up or thumbs down from the lawyers.

    • by AngryNick (891056)

      Nice answers for the most part (except of curse for the cool hack question, kinda took a pass on that one).

      You must admit though, that was a pretty lame attempt to get him to say something "uncool".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:07PM (#42243467)

    "First introduced in Ubuntu 12.10, the "Home Lens" unified search feature inserts product recommendations from Amazon into the search results, irrespective of whether the user intended to search the web or local files.

    This is just like the first surveillance practice I learned about in Windows," Stallman says, recalling how a friend first noticed the Microsoft OS phoning home with search queries.

    That type of behavior is a strict no-no to the free software maven, who lumps it in with DRM and hidden back doors as malicious practices that should result in the offending code being treated as malware.

    "The ads are not the core of the problem," Stallman writes. "The main issue is the spying. Canonical says it does not tell Amazon who searched for what. However, it is just as bad for Canonical to collect your personal information as it would have been for Amazon to collect it." - RMS from -> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/07/stallman_on_ubuntu_spyware/ [theregister.co.uk]

    ---

    * That question's as FAIR AS IT GETS...

    APK

    P.S.=> Very curious what your reply would be vs. that statement - because, to myself @ least? He appears correct, & I don't see WHY a local diskbound query would EVER get sent out to a REMOTE server...

    ... apk

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:10PM (#42243493)

    Yeah, I've been quite astonished at the level of vitriol and paranoia that pervades some of the opinion-fests that pass for discussion and debate in the FLOSS community. And quite disappointed that more folk don't appreciate that we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shift the world towards a much more open platform than ever before, but that nasty flaming of individuals who lead that effort, whether its me or anyone else, is totally counter-productive.

    What a stupid thing to say.

    • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Monday December 10, 2012 @02:04PM (#42244027)
      Is what he said wrong? I use Xubuntu because I dislike Unity, but I don't hate him or Canonical for it. I don't see how it can possibly be productive to spend time flaming him and Canonical instead of using or contributing to competing systems if you dislike their products that much. That's the beauty if Linux; I can run what I want and only what I want if I choose to take the time to configure my system properly.
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday December 10, 2012 @03:24PM (#42244793) Journal

        In The Netherlands, some broadcasters still have in their name "vereniging" (society/club). They were originally founded by people with a similar interest who wanted to make programs according to their world view for others. It was a sharing caring thing. NOT pure commerce. The US might have had the same but now it doesn't and BOY does it show. Dutch broadcasters had to be forced by law to stop just buying American shows to get ratings and instead make TV accordin to their individual mision statement. It is TV nobody wants to watch for the betterment of all...

        So... which is better? The mega corps must watch TV or the educational TV? The answer is probably the BBC which is a bit of both.

        Where are the baby steps? American TV didn't start out as interludes between the commercials but with every annual report financial report, the need for ad revenue to go up, the ads got more intrusive till a Fox CEO claimed going out of the room during commercials is the same as stealing. Now ads are not just before during and after the show or worked into it but actually overlaying the TV image. Every step people said "oh well, this isn't to bad, I just go to the toilet or zap" and every step it got worse.

        The problem is that that this amazon unity lens, is advertising and advertisers NEVER EVER STOP. Give them they finger, they abuct your family and sell them for parts. Searching for your files in realtime is so 90's, why not index your files for faster searches? Why not send the index database to the cloud so you know all your files no matter where you are on whatever device? And why not pay for it with allowing someone to search for it for keywords they can link ads to? And just a link to a web page, why not upload the ads for faster viewing? Why not allow executable content as ads? Why not allow third parties to serve advertising?

        Unlikely? Their are countless events were ordinary 3rd party browser ads have infected hundreds of thousands peoples PC because the perfectly normal safe site you visited decided a fraction of a cent for a banner was worth more then your computer security and their reputation.

        Oh... but surely Ubuntu wouldn't... no of course not. And the same was said by newspapers like NRC quite recently, just before they infected their readers.

        I am reminded of Mint. Mozilla Firefox ALREADY pushed advertising by installing google search by default, then Mint took over and made it hard to remove, ruining the search page in the process. They slightly improved their act but this is just baby steps. Whats next?

        Stallman mentions in his response that he expected this of MS and MS has repeatedly been found sending data home in its various media players. Oh they removed it once people found out, claiming bugs or debug or whatever. But they keep on trying.

        When you buy a Windows PC, you fork over a ton of cash and nobody involved cares because they shovel it full of crapware because that gives them a bit extra. MS did this too, even the pure Windows no OEM disc fully priced came with links to shopping sites and expensive ISP's. Sure, to help me... of course.

        I really don't want my computing to turn into an airline experience were everything costs money, especially not since I switched to Linux years ago. I even tried OSX but was put of by the fact that tools that are free for Linux are all shareware on OSX. Yes, you might call me a cheap bastard but I grew up in a world were there were no ads on tv on sunday. I have been to the US for long enough to know advertising EVERYWHERE does NOT make the world a better place.

        Ubuntu got big over the principles of free software and now is betraying it all for a few bucks and it gives everyone an excuse to stay with Windows and OSX because well, right now, neither of THEM sell your privacy quite so openly to the highest bidder.

        Yes, you can remove it for now. Sure... baby steps. If this fails and it will, they will just try again and again and again. And that gets really old after a while.

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday December 10, 2012 @03:26PM (#42244813)

        I don't see how it can possibly be productive to spend time flaming him and Canonical instead of using or contributing to competing systems if you dislike their products that much

        There are two problems with this sentiment:

        1. We are not in a competition. This community is supposed to be about sharing -- sharing code, sharing bandwidth, sharing disk space, etc. If we start competing like a bunch of little corporations, the whole community will fail.
        2. Canonical has an enormous number of users; what they do with Ubuntu has far-reaching implications. If they bundle Nvidia's proprietary drivers, they are basically telling Nvidia that millions of GNU/Linux users can be Nvidia's customers without Nvidia having to change their practices or release one iota of information about their hardware. An increasing number of people now associate GNU/Linux with Ubuntu; if Canonical bundles spyware, that leaves many people associating spyware with GNU/Linux.

        Canonical cannot just march in and turn the entire community upside down just to create a more business-friendly desktop distro. There are valid complaints about Canonical's approach and what effect Canonical is having on the free software / open source community.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Canonical cannot just march in and turn the entire community upside down just to create a more business-friendly desktop distro

          Turn the entire community upside down? Could you possibly be any more melodramatic? I'm not sitting on the ceiling right now, or dancing there, et cetera.

        • If they bundle Nvidia's proprietary drivers, they are basically telling Nvidia that millions of GNU/Linux users can be Nvidia's customers without Nvidia having to change their practices or release one iota of information about their hardware

          I'm pretty sure any proprietary drivers have to be manually installed via the "Additional drivers" dialogue, and are not installed by default. And, let's face it -- by buying a computer with an Nvidia GPU, you were already making a statement that you didn't care about driver/hardware openness.

  • by CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:11PM (#42243509)

    "The really interesting opportunity is to unify all of these different kinds of computing. Let's make one OS that runs on the phone AND on your supercomputer."

    Is he serious? Haven't we learned anything from Microsoft's attempt to do the same thing with Windows 8?

    • by LourensV (856614) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:54PM (#42243923)

      Well, it doesn't have to be technically the exact same set of bits, or even an exactly identical interface. What he seems to be getting at is that he wants to shift from a model of personal computing where you own a personal computer that you use in the privacy of your home and have full control of, to a model where you consume a set of interlinked services that are provided partially by devices you lease (e.g. a smart phone), partially by devices you own (tablet), and partially by servers run by third parties, with ultimate control of your actions and your data mostly in the hands of the service providers. This, of course, is the antithesis of the idea of Free Software.

      Further down, he states "If your way of seeing the world IS genuinely more productive, effective, efficient, insightful and usable, then you should be confident that you will win in the long term" which is either naive or disingenuous, and incidentally a nice example of why RMS dislikes the term Open Source so much. Looking at the current state of GNU/Linux on the desktop and comparing that to Windows XP and Windows 7, I'm not so sure that GNU/Linux is any better (disclaimer, I have been running GNU/Linux exclusively since 1999, so I'm comparing between my machines and my coworkers'). But that is not the point, and that is not what the question was about. The question was about freedom, about controlling the computation and communication that is done on your behalf by your equipment. The fact that he sidesteps this question in much the same way that Jono Bacon sidestepped RMS's criticism of the new integrated Amazon search engine says a lot.

      So here's one more attempt to get through to the fine folks at Canonical: the question is not about whether I want to be able to buy things from Amazon easily. The question is where else in the OS you are sending things that I type into my personal computer to some server on the Internet without me knowing about it, and how I can trust you to not do that without my knowledge or permission in the future? That is what Free Software is about. Unfortunately, Canonical seems to have a very different agenda.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        I think you should read the link in my signature.

        Not that your point is off... just that that is not what Free Software is about. (It's a pleasant side-effect)

  • Mark appears to be saying that Ubuntu will work in about a year and a half (all the references to 14.04LTS.)

    As a Ubuntu user myself, I can't say I'm overly happy with the direction it's been in lately. I hope he's right.

    • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

      by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Monday December 10, 2012 @02:07PM (#42244055)
      It works just fine right now. Install 12.04 LTS with KDE or XFCE instead of Unity and you avoid the sub-par Unity interface and the Amazon search integration.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by squiggleslash (241428)

        Yes, but then you end up with KDE or XFCE. And in any case it's not Ubuntu in that sense any more.

        There really wasn't a lot wrong with GNOME 2, I wish they'd have taken a more evolutionary approach to improving that. As it is, I take a similar route to yours, I use the GNOME fall-back mode with a few extensions loaded to improve Ubuntu integration. It's not proper Ubuntu, but it's at least a hell of a lot better than XFCE or KDE. And it's closer to what Ubuntu should be than Unity.

  • by CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:20PM (#42243605)

    Unity is by far the most widely used shell on Ubuntu, despite the depressed-hipster "can't live with unity" meme.

    Shuttleworth just doesn't get it...People don't like Unity because its not a highly productive DE (unlike MATE or Cinnamon). It has nothing to do with what is hip or cool.

    • by characterZer0 (138196) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:30PM (#42243687)

      If you are after highly productive and do not need the hand holding that things like Unity provide, why are you even using Ubuntu? Just use Debian.

    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:31PM (#42243699) Homepage Journal

      Not even that, it's a straightforward "We've changed everything and you have to relearn everything, but there's not really a substantial advantage to the replacement" thing.

      Don't get me wrong, I think there are some good ideas in Unity, but I really am far from convinced that it was necessary to throw everything out and start again when building it. The only "justification" I can see is that they saw GNOME doing the same thing and thought this was the only way to move forward.

      I'm not a Unity hater, but it's taken me a long time to be willing to use it anywhere (it's now my default UI at work), and I'm still relieved when I get home and can use my hybrid GNOME Classic desktop on my personal machine. I was extremely relieved by GNOME's recent decision to at least acknowledge that there are people out there who prefer a more ordinary desktop, and I hope we see those improvements in Ubuntu soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ak3ldama (554026)

      Unity is by far the most widely used shell on Ubuntu, despite the depressed-hipster "can't live with unity" meme.

      This is very condescending. Caveat: I use it somewhat currently, but I do not like it.

      And second, there was a cultural shift. Ubuntu shifted towards leadership rather than simply integration. We thought design was important, we talked to the folks responsible for all the current DEs at the time, and they didn't seem to understand what was going to be the reality of personal computing - a highly mobile oriented world. So we led, and I'm glad we did, even though it is hard to do that.

      So you talked to other desktop environment groups about it, they said no thanks, and you've pushed on anyways? That seems fairly understandable actually. Thanks for the leadership?

      Purpose built platforms work, well. When Unity and Gnome shell strip things like sensor and weather applets, they provide less value. When Ubuntu adds the new software center application that does software searches worse, they provide less value.

    • I do C++ development all day, I use restricted drivers (for wifi and OpenGL) and I use Ubuntu.
      I've been using Debian since '97, used it for almost 10 years, I loved being in charge of my system and configuring every little thing and packages.
      But at the end of the day, when you run regular distros, things often break when you less expect it, and are forced to figure out how to fix them. When you have to meet a deadline with a client and something breaks because installing a new package forced the upgrade o
    • Really, Unity is like Old Windows back in the 90's, it's built towards simple use and does not contain anything beyond in terms of usability. One size fits all....NOT. Will leave the Microsoft bugs and evil arguments aside.

      Making the decision and demanding that only producing something better is worth listening to...that's just silly.

      Fact: made design
      Fact: many have issues with said design

    • People don't like Unity because its not a highly productive DE

      I really like MATE and didn't try Unity for more than 30 seconds.
      Trying to use Unity as MATE sure isn't productive at all. :D
      Honest question : can Unity be a highly productive DE when it's used as it should?

      • Honest question : can Unity be a highly productive DE when it's used as it should?

        No. The purpose of Unity is to provide an consumer-oriented environment conducive to buying content such as music, movies, books, etc like on the iPad and other tablets and smartphones. Shuttleworth has even stated that the future is tablets, not PCs. Helping people buy, not develop, stuff is where things are going. If you don't like that, then you're a depressed hipster. Luckily, Unity can help you search for some Xanax...

      • Honest question : can Unity be a highly productive DE when it's used as it should?

        No. The purpose of Unity is to provide an consumer-oriented environment conducive to buying content such as music, movies, books, etc like on the iPad and other tablets and smartphones. Shuttleworth has even stated that the future is tablets, not PCs. Helping people buy, not develop, stuff is where things are going. If you don't like that, then you're a depressed hipster. Luckily, Unity can help you search for some Xanax...

        [ I forgot to include this... ]

        To be fair, I have the same commentary about Wind

  • Touch that again! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ciderbrew (1860166) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:24PM (#42243645)
    Touch Screen on a desktop -- WHY? I've spent years asking people not to touch my screen now everyone smears their fingers over everything - Grrr.
    And laptop the screen sizes, too small for you too?
    • Touch Screen on a desktop -- WHY? I've spent years asking people not to touch my screen now everyone smears their fingers over everything - Grrr.

      Yep. I feel the same way about most new interfaces. E.g.: I spent years trying not to jerk the game controller in response to actions on the screen. We laughed at folks who would lean left and right or pull the controller high into the air when their avatar hadn't jumped high enough. Now there are motion controlled games, and they're about three decades too late for me to care about. The younger folks however...

      • Heh, I know. Even these days I have recently caught myself of trying to peek further around a corner in a 3D game using my head only.
    • by Rinikusu (28164) on Monday December 10, 2012 @03:17PM (#42244731)

      LOL. Yeah, here's the thing, though. I killed a half-hour at the Sony Store the other day playing with their tablets and what not and you know what? For web-browsing, etc, it's so much more user-friendly than keyboard + mouse. I had to catch myself on non-touch equipped screens and found myself actually *annoyed* that you couldn't just touch the screen to do basic stuff. I dunno if I'd use it for my IDE (although.. scrolling through code, pinch zooming to change font sizes... that might be a useful thing...). I think my android experience is tempering my old-man-ness.

      • I get that. On a tablet, totally the right thing to push and pull data with. I'd have one next to my keyboard and see how the two screen could work together. Artists have been using a pallet and screen for years.
        On my 24" at work don't smear it and it just out of arms reach with leaning in. My 60" in the living room used for games, web and a tiny bit of dev, i'd have to get up off the sofa to use it. Plus all the huge porn on that screen is too scary to touch, may fall in.
  • McCarthyism? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:52PM (#42243893)

    Well, I feel the same way about this as I do about McCarthyism. The people who rant about proprietary software are basically insecure about their own beliefs, and it's that fear that makes them so nastily critical.

    So, who's being nastily critical? Comparing free software advocates to Joseph McCarthy? Great way to keep it classy, to rise above the fray.

    McCarthy used the power of government to persecute people he distrusted or who were his political enemies. RMS complaining about the combination of free and propriety software is hardly comparable. As a matter of fact, those who leverage government to enforce vague patents, like vague accusations of communism, come much closer.

    If your way of seeing the world IS genuinely more productive, effective, efficient, insightful and usable, then you should be confident that you will win in the long term, and folk who dabble in a different way of working will come to realize that you're right eventually.

    Would that this were true. It is an old enlightenment superstition that, given enough time, truth will triumph on this earth. Truth, however, has no special claim on human beings. Power tends to be the victor more frequently. Your way of seeing the world can be the most insightful, but if government and corporatists together hold the means of spreading that way of seeing the world, you cannot communicate your insights to others.

    Yet, there's a deeper problem with Shuttleworth's claim. The list he gives, "productive, effective, efficient, insightful and usable," these are all good things. But they are not the only good things. Nor would I use these as criteria for judging what is right. Most of these are only secondary goods. Productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency are only good when they're used to advance good ends. They are only desirable as a means to some other good. It is primary goods that offer the best criteria for us to "come to realize [what's] right". Primary goods are things that are desirable in themselves and not for the sake of some other good. Justice, for example, is desirable, whether or not it is productive or effective. Happiness should be sought, whether or not it is efficient. Some of the best things in life (e.g. sex, beer, science-fiction, art, religion, philosophy, playing with children, music, fishing, amiable conversation) are highly inefficient.

    Were free software to base its claim to being the "right" way of doing things purely on productivity, efficiency, et al., then it would be impoverished. It would offer us nothing better than more stuff at a cheaper price. Of course it should strive to be productive and effective, usable and efficient, but only if it is providing some good. The fact that free software is free, that it can offer access to knowledge to those who want it, that it can in some small way ameliorate inequalities and injustices caused by those who through IP law claim ownership of the mind and of nature, that it is shared, these are the best claims free software has to make on being the "right" way of seeing the world. And, Mr. Shuttleworth, I am no McCarthyist for saying so.

    • by Bradmont (513167)
      Thank you. I was pretty unsatisfied with his response to my question, and this is what he missed.
      • Quite welcome. I have to admit, I'm puzzled at how your polite, diplomatic, question provoked that response. Maybe the guy's gotten too much hate mail and just doesn't know how to respond to an honest question anymore. I can't begin to guess.
    • Well, I feel the same way about this as I do about McCarthyism. The people who rant about proprietary software are basically insecure about their own beliefs, and it's that fear that makes them so nastily critical.

      So, who's being nastily critical? Comparing free software advocates to Joseph McCarthy? Great way to keep it classy, to rise above the fray.

      I lost all my respect for Mark over that statement. Fuck him.

  • by branewalker (1665523) on Monday December 10, 2012 @01:55PM (#42243933)
    I think it's fine to be proud of your own accomplishments. I don't think it's fine to call your detractors "depressed hipsters" when that is precisely what they are not. I didn't like Unity before it was cool, because I've never liked it, and it's still not.

    I think it's disingenuous at best to say "Unity is by far the most widely used shell on Ubuntu, despite the depressed-hipster "can't live with unity" meme." when it is the default shell for Ubuntu. Most people don't change defaults, even if they are bad. See: Internet Explorer.

    I also think it displays a complete lack of understanding of FOSS to say, "Well, I feel the same way about this as I do about McCarthyism. The people who rant about proprietary software are basically insecure about their own beliefs, and it's that fear that makes them so nastily critical. If your way of seeing the world IS genuinely more productive, effective, efficient, insightful and usable, then you should be confident that you will win in the long term, and folk who dabble in a different way of working will come to realize that you're right eventually."

    Really, Mark? Here's where you're wrong: the ideology is one of control and user rights. If you're leading and you say, "this method is productive, effective, efficient, (insightful? What does it mean for a method of creating software to *itself* have insight?), and usable," but fails to recognize basic user rights, and your detractors say, "yes, but it fails to recognize basic user rights" then you're talking past them, and telling them their rights don't matter in the face of what..."progress?"

    When you've got a method that puts users first, or at the very least doesn't bundle advertising spyware and beta-level UI as defaults, piggybacking on the success of what used to be the friendliest flavor of Linux, then talk about productive and efficient. Because until you're moving in the right direction, how fast and efficiently you're moving doesn't matter.
    • by Svartalf (2997)

      Indeed. I'm most definitely NOT a depressed hipster- and the UI he's defending with the notion he just espoused is more of a "hipster" type situation.

      It's different for merely the sake of it- and it's a usable UI for a touchscreen, not for a desktop in and of itself. I've little problems with "different" so long as it's not a productivity sink. XFCE4's closer to usable than the others so I use it and I've seen a few things where KDE wasn't bad (but had other notions not so hot...social media/networking t

    • Really, Mark?

      Not only that but according to Mark, RMS is insecure about his beliefs. You have to wonder a this point if he has eve heard of RMS.

  • I don't use Ubuntu but I have a great deal of respect for anyone (for personal gain or not) who has contributed as much as Mark has both financially and in terms of open code for the community to use and learn from.

    So a big Thank You goes out to Mark Shuttleworth, for all you have done.

    I don't use Ubuntu because it is a matter of comfort and choice. I like choices and have no problem doing things the hard way, so I use Gentoo/Funtoo Linux (even though they provide some great tools to make it easy to manage

  • If you're not willing to do real work to achieve the outcome you believe in, then you're just another empty vessel with an opinion. And as the saying goes, opinions are like assholes - everybody's got one. What matters is the people who are willing to knuckle down and do real work to make a difference.

    As expected, Mark Shuttleworth is again demonstrating his obtuse ceaselessness. People get upset when their voices are ignored. In this case, like it or not, these are his customers that he's ignoring. But, thankfully, he doesn't see it that way. They're just empty vessels with assholes, and if you don't like the way Ubuntu does things, you can GTFO. Intentionally alienating your users/customers is the worst possible thing he could do for the adoption of his product. I've said it before. I'll say it again.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      In this case, like it or not, these are his customers that he's ignoring.

      Unless they're paying for Ubuntu in some way, these aren't his customers. In fact, based on RMS's accusations, it's arguable that they are in fact his product.

      • I disagree. Anyone who uses the product is a customer. You are paying for the product, even if it's not with cash. The whole thing is a giant ad for Amazon. That means that it should be important to him what you think of it, because he's selling your attention. If by some quirk, you're dumb enough to use Ubuntu in the first place, you are Shuttleworth's customer. And Ubuntu is certainly a product. RMS is a crazy old man.
  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday December 10, 2012 @02:38PM (#42244379)

    It used to be that all of the popular desktop operating systems – Windows, Linux, and even MacOS – offered a good degree of customizability. Except on Linux you didn't have to delve into the depths of configuration files, but you could change things if you wanted to. This was because the interfaces were designed by programmers who understood the need for flexibility.

    The rise of self-proclaimed UI designers and UI experts has changed all that. Now the trend across the board is to pitch the user interface to the lowest common denominator, and when power users complain, not only to ignore their complaints but to actively insult them. We see this with the removal of the Start menu on Windows 8 and the shoving of "Metro" down everyone's throat, and we see this with Mark Shuttleworth's blithe dismissal of Unity critics as "depressed hipsters."

    The truth is that people who don't care much about computers and use them mostly as content-consumption devices are already flocking to tablets and smartphones. On these devices, a simplistic UI is fine – but the corollary is that the desktop market will be more dominated by content creators and power users, who aren't satisfied with the limitations of portable devices. So offering customizability and giving power users what we want on the desktop is more important, not less. Anyone who tries to go after both the tablet and desktop market with a lowest-common-denominator strategy is likely going to lose both.

  • by tgd (2822)

    The really interesting opportunity is to unify all of these different kinds of computing. Let's make one OS that runs on the phone AND on your supercomputer

    Like... Windows 8?

    Not trying to suggest its not good for Ubuntu to do so, but does he really not understand that a) its not a new idea and b) already exists? Is he answering /. questions with marketing-quality responses?

  • Full disclosure: I'm a happy Ubuntu user, I actually like Unity, and while I respect RMS' opinion I think the controversy over Canonical including Amazon search results in the Dash has been overblown.

    All that being said, I'm disappointed that Shuttleworth wasn't questioned directly about the Amazon integration issue. It was mentioned, but only as one item in a longer list of gripes the submitter had, which allowed Shuttleworth to dance past the issue by talking about how the submitter's gripes were unrepresentative of the public at large ("Ubuntu continues to grow in terms of actual users", etc). If he'd been asked directly to comment on the Amazon decision and the community's response to it, he'd have had less room to wiggle away into generalities.

    It's disappointing because (again, even though I personally think it's overblown) the Amazon issue is undeniably the biggest PR hit Ubuntu has taken in a long time; it is directly affecting its perception and standing in the Linux community, which makes it important enough that Shuttleworth should have to talk specifically about why the project has gone in that direction, and how that decision is going to continue to play out in the future.

  • What is your short- and long-term perspective on including restricted drivers and non-free software in Ubuntu? Is your approach simply pragmatic, do you hope to bring long-term change in industry practices by making free software a viable and important desktop platform, or something else entirely? Thanks!

    Shuttleworth: Well, I feel the same way about this as I do about McCarthyism. The people who rant about proprietary software are basically insecure about their own beliefs, and it's that fear that makes them so nastily critical.
    ...
    If you think you'll convince people to see things your way by ranting and being a dick, well, then you have much more to learn than I can possibly be bothered to spend time teaching.

    Huh, going with the "something else entirely" option I see.
    I guess it's time to try out Debian again on the netbook. Because as I see it now, it's the long-term insightful thing to do over using Ubuntu. Almost entirely due to your outlook on free software.

    Now, whoa whoa whoa, lemme get this straight... You can't convince people by ranting and being a dick... But mentioning non-free software gets a rant comparing it to McCarhyism? Huh?

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

Working...