As has become traditional, Mark Shuttleworth kicked off the Ubuntu
Developer Summit (UDS) with a keynote (video
link) looking back at the last release cycle and looking ahead to the
next release. Following the keynote, Shuttleworth jumped on a conference
call to share his vision for Ubuntu's next release and beyond. The long
story short? Expect more of an emphasis on mobile and cloud, and less on the legacy desktop.
Canonical and the rest of the Ubuntu project is now starting the development cycle for Ubuntu 12.04, which will be a Long Term Support (LTS) release. This time around, Canonical is planning to do a five-year cycle for the client and server release. Shuttleworth said that this is in response from customers who have large Ubuntu deployments, though he didn't specify which ones.
Shuttleworth said that 12.04 will "draw to conclusion" the
"threads" that started since the last LTS release. For
example, solidifying the Unity desktop and work on the cloud services in
Ubuntu. At the same time, Shuttleworth is already looking forward to the
14.04 LTS and putting Ubuntu on tablets, phones, televisions, and other
mobile and embedded devices. Ubuntu has been focusing on touch interfaces for some time, but now Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu "is in a position" to span "from phone to televisions, to car, and elsewhere."
That's quite an ambitious perspective, especially considering two things. First, Ubuntu is a little bit late to the game. Giants like Microsoft, Google, and Apple have already been jockeying for position for years. Android and iOS have already carved out a pretty enormous swath of the tablet and phone markets, and word around the campfire is that Apple is poised to release a TV in the not-too-distant future. By the time Ubuntu 14.04 rolls around, or even 13.04 with preview technology for mobile, other companies will be well into their Nth generation of technology in markets Canonical will just be dipping a toe into.
The second is that Canonical is a really tiny David in this David and
Goliath story. On one side, Canonical faces the aforementioned industry
giants. On the other hand, Canonical
is also competing with industry consortia like Tizen.
Essentially, Canonical seems to be facing an uphill battle similar to
that the company faced when it attempted to take on the desktop against
Microsoft and Apple. Currently, Shuttleworth boasts 20 million users for
Ubuntu. Leaving aside the fact that Canonical doesn't actually publish the
information used to gather those numbers, 20 million users have not been
enough to qualify as mainstream success on the desktop. Now the company is
planning to enter markets where it's completely unknown and years late.
So I asked Shuttleworth why he thinks that Canonical will be poised to
compete here? First, he acknowledged that Ubuntu would be late to
market. However, he said that this market is a bit different. First, it's a
highly contested market with no clear winner. Shuttleworth said that there
is the potential for "dramatic shifts" in the market, and that
has been the case in the past with the arrival of Android. He also said
that there's potential backlash to Google picking up Motorola Mobility. The
"Googlerola" deal might change the way that companies feel
about Android, Shuttleworth said — which provides an opening to Canonical.
Tizen will not satisfy the need, Shuttleworth said, because consortia
have "an inability to deliver a focused, concrete"
solution. This point is rather hard to argue, given the string of failures
(i.e. Moblin, Maemo, MeeGo) thus far. So Shuttleworth said vendors
"have me on the phone to ask how quickly we can bring a mobile story
with Ubuntu." Canonical has declined to identify particular vendors
until there are products ready to go to market. That may take a while; if not as late as 2014 certainly not in 2011 and likely not in 2012.
Without products to hack on, how will developers be testing their applications, assuming interested developers want to get the next Angry Birds (or the current one) put together for Ubuntu on mobile? Shuttleworth said that in the interim Ubuntu will target existing hardware that ship with different OSes. "We'll target existing hardware that's available around the world, cheaply."
Developers can use HTML5 or QML to target Ubuntu for mobile, said
Shuttleworth. For multi-platform, low-resource applications, HTML5 should
be fine, he said, and Canonical will "make sure that HTML5 apps work beautifully on all devices." For games and native applications, Shuttleworth said that developers can have a "smoother" experience targeting Ubuntu using QML.
One key criticism of tablets, in particular, from the open source
community is that they're essentially for consuming media — not for
creating content or hacking. I asked Shuttleworth if Canonical had any plans to address this with Ubuntu's tablet releases. Unfortunately, Shuttleworth said that the 1.0 release will also be primarily focused on standard tablet behavior (consuming content), but of course an Ubuntu tablet will have a wide range of applications.
One potential snag is how Canonical is going to turn a profit on its
mobile work when any vendor could just pick up Ubuntu and put it on its own devices without Canonical's blessing. Shuttleworth said that Android has shown that path to be "ultimately destructive" when vendors choose to go their own way. He didn't explain this in detail, but there are few Android success stories from vendors that are not partnered with Google. The notable exceptions are Barnes & Noble, which seems to be doing quite well with the Android-based Color Nook, and Amazon. While Amazon hasn't yet shipped the Android-based Kindle Fire, it seems to have been well received initially. Nevertheless, Shuttleworth said he's "confident" that many of the ISVs will want an engagement with Canonical for services, which will be one revenue stream.
The Ubuntu One framework and its services will provide another income
stream, he said. Shuttleworth envisions devices shipping with Ubuntu and Ubuntu One services, which Canonical will generate revenue from. This may wind up being successful — during the UDS keynote, Shuttleworth mentioned that of 110,000 new users to Ubuntu One, 25,000 had never used Ubuntu before.
For the next Ubuntu release, then, expect the feature set to be fairly conservative. Canonical will be focusing on polishing Unity and improving the integration of OpenStack and the new cloud management software (Juju) that was introduced with 11.10. Unfortunately, this topic was not really discussed during the press call with Shuttleworth and my attempt to connect with the right person at Canonical on server plans was hampered by the ongoing UDS.
Shuttleworth and Canonical are taking on a steep challenge with the play
for phones, tablets, and other devices. It's interesting that Shuttleworth
spent little time talking up Ubuntu's strategy as an operating system of
choice for cloud infrastructure, especially given the work that the Ubuntu
folks put into Ubuntu's cloud tools in the 11.10 release. Perhaps Canonical
has learned enough from attempts at desktop success to make a go on the
next wave of devices for personal computing. It will certainly be
interesting to watch.
Comments (19 posted)
Debian is pretty bad at making choices. Almost always, when faced with a
need to choose between alternative solutions for the same problem, we
choose all of them. For example, we support pretty much every init
implementation, various implementations of /bin/sh, and we even have at
least three entirely different kernels.
Comments (3 posted)
OpenBSD 5.0 has been released. This version includes improved hardware
support, generic network stack improvements, routing daemons and other
userland network improvements, SCSI improvements, OpenSSH 5.9, and much
more. See the release notes
Comments (7 posted)
OLPC OS 11.3.0 is available for XO-1, XO-1.5, and as a provisional release
for XO-1.75. See the release notes
Full Story (comments: none)
Ubuntu has announced the end-of-life for the 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) Netbook
Edition and Ubuntu for ARM products. "Ubuntu 10.04 LTS for Desktop
and Server products continues to be actively supported with security
updates and select high-impact bug fixes.
Full Story (comments: none)
Enrico Zini has a few bits on the Debian New Maintainer process, which has
been renamed to New Member (NM). There is also a new email address for the
NM Front Desk and prototype for a new website describing the NM process.
Full Story (comments: none)
The openSUSE Election Committee has announced
the opening of the 2011 board elections. Nominations are open currently
open and the campaigning begins November 25. "So, if you want to participate in the openSUSE board and influence the future direction of the project please stand up and announce your candidacy. If you want to vote for the candidates, please make sure your openSUSE membership is approved. If you are a contributor of openSUSE but you are not a member yet, apply for membership now and be a part of the changes to come.
Comments (none posted)
Newsletters and articles of interest
Comments (none posted)
Linux.com has a
review of the upcoming Fedora 16 release
. "F16 introduces a
number of significant changes: GRUB 2 replaces legacy GRUB, HAL is gone and
replaced by udisks, upower, and libudev, migration from SysV init to native
Systemd continues (scheduled for completion in F17), and a number of cloud
utilities and OpenStack are included. btrfs, the much-hyped filesystem that
is supposed to become the Linux default, was supposed to be the default for
Verne, but it's still not ready.
Comments (51 posted)
from Mark Shuttleworth's keynote
at the Ubuntu Developer Summit.
"'There is going to be a crowd that is just too cool to use something
that looks really slick and there is nothing we can do for them,'
Shuttleworth said. 'Fortunately in Ubuntu there are tons of options and
lots of choice and ways to skin the cat.' Shuttleworth stressed that he
wants to make sure that the primary Ubuntu desktop offering is both easy to
use, beautiful and exciting for power users. He added that it would be nice
to get Linus Torvalds in to help with usability testing.
'If we do, I'm sure the footage will be widely available,' Shuttleworth
said. 'We may mute the audio track, but that's a key goal for us in this
Comments (82 posted)
Mark Shuttleworth shares his vision
of Ubuntu on a wide range of devices. "Canonical and the Ubuntu community have established Ubuntu's place in desktop, server and cloud deployments. We have also invested in the design and engineering of Unity, motivated by the belief that desktop interfaces would merge with mobile, touch interfaces into a seamless personal computing platform in the future. Today we are inviting the whole Ubuntu community - both commercial and personal - to shape that possibility and design that future; a world where Ubuntu runs on mobile phones, tablets, televisions and traditional PC's, creating a world where content is instantly available on all devices, in a form that is delightful to use.
Comments (13 posted)
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