12 thoughts on “Ubuntu Inspiration

  1. I think what really hurt Unity for me inspiration-wise is that it’s been so rapidly developed. I’ve never gotten the impression that there was a stable stopping point where the community members could really try it out in its full glory so we can tell others about it. Sadly, I don’t feel I can tell that Mac user they will love Unity because I haven’t gotten full exposure to it working flawlessly myself.

    That said, I have found Jorge Castro’s blog to be amazing and inspiring regarding Unity this cycle. He has been verbose about development milestones and posts telling people how they can get involved with everything from code to documentation.

  2. I think it goes without saying that the bigger Ubuntu gets, and the nearer it gets to mainstream adoption, the harder it is to maintain that sense of being a new, exciting project that is going to change the world.

    You are totally right to fight for that stuff to stay around, but you have to be aware that it is just a natural part of Ubuntu’s growth that it becomes more difficult to sustain that sort of thing. It is not down to the failing of anyone at Canonical or within the community. Every business and comedy goes through the same growing pains.

  3. Jimbo,

    Is Ubuntu any closer to mainstream adoption than it was two years ago? There’s a real lack of evidence to suggest that it is. Major Intel OEMs aren’t picking Ubuntu as a pre-install option. The newer breed of ARM OEMs are falling more and more into the arms of Android. It’s unclear if Ubuntu (or for that matter WebOS) is going to be able to compete successfully with Android on “mainstream” ARM devices.

    Even Dell’s commitment to pre-install Ubuntu as a “mainstream” desktop OS has waned significantly. There is at this very moment only a single Desktop listed on Dell’s US website Ubuntu page. No laptops… not netbooks. Without OEM commitment to ship Ubuntu pre-installed…can Ubuntu reach mainstream? You can point to niche retailers like ZaReason and System76 and make hopeful statements about the interest in Ubuntu. But don’t kid yourself. Niche linux-only retailers are serving a niche market…they are not mainstream. They are great, and I use them to purchase systems…but I’m know I’m a niche consumer.

    Ubuntu’s best shot at reaching mainstream adoption was HP’s Mi interface. HP has now moved on and is banking on WebOS in the post-desktop marketplace. The Mi interface development was the high water mark in OEM interest in Ubuntu as a platform and now that interest sliding away every single quarter.

    The hard reality is, Ubuntu is far more successful as a platform on which to build web services in a “cloudy” data center than it is as a client platform to consume web services. Android is winning the only mainstream client marketplace that is relevant right now and Canonical is at best fighting a holding action with existing OEM partners(via their relationship with Linaro) with the continued re-invention of Unity while Android adoption marches on.
    Unity version 1 (mutter based), version 2 (compiz based) and version 3 (Qt based) are all aimed at fulfilling promises Canonical made to various OEMs to deliver a usable interface. And Canonical just isn’t delivering fast enough for OEMs. The fact that Linaro is now working on building an Android reference image should tell you exactly where OEM interest is headed.


  4. @jef – that’s a very interesting comment, what’s your passion though? Do you want to see Free Software move forward? If Ubuntu isn’t doing that, then what will?

    Is it enough to see the Windows world crumble as it’s replaced by mobile devices?

  5. @doctormo,
    You’ve asked a subtly different question of me. You have assumed that taking FOSS “mainstream” is the same as forward progress. I don’t think the best strengths of FOSS will ever be valued by _consumer_ in a consumer culture. You questions have assumed that the “mainstream” consumer culture of today’s western society is a culture worth cultivating and catering to. I’m not so sure it is.

    I believe that FOSS is at its most valued inside a _maker_ culture. By growing a _maker_ culture…an interest in building and understanding technology from simple irrigation systems to FPGA based digital radios…FOSS spreads naturally as a tool to build things…build things to solve problems. So if I were going to name a passion it would be a passion to see the maker subculture become the dominant culture displacing the consumer culture as the mainstream way western society interacts with technology.

    But the obvious answer to your other question is that Google is doing it with Android…without the aid or help of any large grassroots community evangelism. Android _is_ mainstream. Android _is_ FOSS. And Google is executing a business strategy so well that OEMs are falling over themselves to field Android devices in the expansionist land grab rush to fill the void in the post-desktop wifi-enabled personal device space that MS has failed to step into to challenge Apple. And because its an expansionist rush…the market will oversaturate and there will be a die-off phase. Even if Canonical can field some valuable and technically superior Ubuntu devices with OEM partners in the near to mid term.. I don’t seem them surviving the die-off phase that is going to come after the rush.


  6. @jef – probably not a good idea to assume what I’m assuming 😉 ultimately I’m with you, the consumer culture is harsh on foss and doesn’t really fit it very well. But I fill that void by advocating ideas and a cultural shift through understand of the issues.

    Thanks for your comments so far.

  7. In the vein of my last comment….

    If you want to push a particular FOSS solution…push the lilypad adaptation of arduino into the hands of non-traditional “programmers” who enjoy spending time doing traditional handicrafts. The ardiuno based lilypad really has the potential to break down some traditional categorizations and brings FOSS software and its principles directly into the hand of more traditional crafters…into a deeper and more lasting “mainstream” culture of crafting, sharing and appreciating lovingly homemade things.


  8. @Jef – thanks for your detailed assessment, I appreciate the neutrality of your views, so valuable and rare.

    @Martin –
    IMHO the Ubuntu project shifted from a Free Software collaborative integration project to a mostly regulated (== dictated?) integration and development Open Source project. I will not argue about the technical and financial merits of the “regulators” or it’s achievements , those are commonly referred to justify the change, the key is that we -the Ubuntu community- should acknowledge the change.

    In what regards to the “Free Software” values affirmation, Canonical is leaving space for uncertainty and doubt. Ubuntu as presented to the world does not clearly endorses Free Software values, it does so for Open Source.
    You wilt not find “Free Software” at http://www.ubuntu.com/, then read http://www.ubuntu.com/how-can-it-be-free , can you find “Free Software” or “community” as keywords for it’s “freedom ?

  9. João Pinto,

    Do not make the mistake thinking that I am neutral. I am not neutral. I don’t even pretend to be or ask that anyone think of me as such. I have my biases and I wear them on my sleeve for everyone to see….right next to my bleeding heart.


  10. Jef,
    we all have biases, however some people let them dominate theirs thoughts while others have a greater focus on the subject.

  11. Hello there are so many thoughts running through my head now . But i’m also kinda bored with the Ubuntu in general and recently i started thinking of trying other distros. I think this is because i feel that canonical is just trying to reinvent weals by painting them purple. They came with indicator because the sys tray/ notification area was cluttered and inconsistent , wheal that didn’t make any difference except making some developers learn a new api to get their apps in the indicators i mean i have 9 icons now there (and one is for rhythmbox , because if it`s not playng you can’t minimize it to the sound INDICATOR )… some in the sys some indicators , now they reinvent the dock and place it on the side , i don’t want it on the side and those squares just don’t fit with gnome , and that dash hmm i think i saw that somewhere else … i have a 21 inch screen i have space to spare , i know that netbooks are popular or at least they were when unity started by I strongly believe they wont be soon ass mobile phone became almost as powerful.

    I just can’t wonder why they don’t spend more time with independend developers to try to get as many apps integrated in to the gnome technologies and develop new technologies (like evolution data server or demons i don’t know how to call them) that people can plug in to build new interfaces . Why they don’t build other plugins for stuff to integrate with services why they have to bully Banshee over the scraps that Amazon leaves. I think this is where canonical needs to work on … integrating application with the existing tehnologies libraries servers etc. , sure this is complicated with the current release mode because that would force developers to intergrate or risk to spoil the experience , but what if it would be possible to choose never to check for an update to a application if i don’t want the update … for example now i have to uncheck the alarm clock applet every time i update because it moved to the damned indicators … and i don’t want it there i want it near the clock … it would be great to be in the clock but it ain’t.

    I also think that Jeff is right when he says that open source is best valued by the maker communities … but it could be valued by consumers also but that will happen only when it will be better than closed source. Consumers don’t care if it is open or closed. if something is open source if you are a consumer you can’t do anything with the source … it’s kinda worthless , you have to bee a hacker , a maker to require the source otherwise there is always torrents and pirated software to get free close software. Open source will be mainstream when the sidestream won’t need to dream of mac or windows or adobe because they can do it better with their tools .
    I think this is where we have to go and stop bragging that our software is open source . We have to make it better than proprietary AND the cherry on top : it is open source.
    If you think i got something wrong please tell 😛

  12. valentin – I think you mostly make sense, but for the assertion that free and open source is not important to users of software.

    I will try and make you a video to explain why.

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