Thursday, 27 December 2012

Shuttleworth's State of the Unity Post


Canonical CTO Mark Shuttleworth doesn't post so often on his official blog 'Here Be Dragons', but a new posting on Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 outlined his plans for 2013.

In a rejoinder to the massed criticism of Ubuntu, Unity and himself personally, the 'where we are' opener stated "it matters that we not exclude people from our audience."

Apparently stung by the barrage of hate directed at the Unity desktop, he also declared "even in the rare case where the gift is received ungraciously, the joy is in the giving, and it matters that our efforts paid dividends for others." Which would indicate he's a little peeved by the criticism of Ubuntu's distinctive alternate desktop.


Turning toward 2013, "it matters most that we bring the benefits of free software to an audience which would not previously have had the confidence to be different." So don't join the Windows and Mac lemmings.

Attempting to head off more abuse, Shuttleworth gets his disclaimers in early: "...we want to shape the future, which means exploring territory that is unfamiliar, uncertain and easy to criticise." And with a touch of Jobsian self-assurance (let's hope it's not hubris) "...in this regard, we know, scientifically, that Ubuntu with Unity is better than anything else out there."

So what is the plan for 2013?

"It also matters that we be relevant for the kinds of computing that people want to do every day... That’s why Unity in 2013 will be all about mobile – bringing Ubuntu to phones and tablets."

This is a re-statement of direction which has been Canonical's headline all year - although we notice there are still no mobile phone partners shipping Ubuntu Mobile by default.

And regular Ubuntu watchers won't be surprised to read;
"It’s also why we’ll push deeper into the cloud, making it even easier, faster and cost effective to scale out modern infrastructure on the cloud of your choice, or create clouds for your own consumption and commerce... Whether you’re building out a big data cluster or a super-scaled storage solution, you’ll get it done faster on Ubuntu than any other platform, thanks to the amazing work of our cloud community."

So Canonical is pushing toward both ends of computing from its' position on the middle. Whether it has the clout or the resources to achieve either target remains to be seen.

With a touch of Mitt Romney condescension, Shuttleworth finishes with a deliberate 'yah-boo sucks' to the critics;

"There will always be things that we differ on between ourselves, and those who want to define themselves by their differences to us on particular points. We can’t help them every time, or convince them of our integrity when it doesn’t suit their world view."

It sounds, with this top and tail, that Mr Spaceshuttle is feeling a little unloved at the top of the Open Source tree.

We'll see how Canonical's fortunes fare with all things Ubuntu (notice Mark didn't refer to Ubuntu TV this time). I hope 2012 wasn't the high point, for all the faults and false-starts in mobilising the Open Source community, we need an active Canonical pushing the proprietary vendors. RC

Image credit: Sam Horn concept design for Ubuntu Mobile

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