Saturday, June 22, 2024

Shuttleworth: Linux Power Users Aren’t too Cool for Unity

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Mark Shuttleworth makes no apologies for the Ubuntu Unity Linux desktop interface, in fact he sees it as the foundation for his company’s platform strategy as the company moves beyond desktops, servers and the cloud.

Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu Linux, delivered a keynote address today at the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS), reminding the Ubuntu faithful of the progress made this past year. He also delivered his vision for the road ahead, which involved leveraging Unity to bring Unity to multiple types of smart screens including phones and tablets.

“We have at least 20 million users in 80 different languages and Ubuntu has become an extraordinary phenomenon in the world today,” Shuttleworth said.

At the UDS event in 2010, Shuttleworth rocked the Linux world with his announcement to move Ubuntu to the Unity interface. It’s a move that has had more than its fair share of detractors and criticism, though that does not faze Shuttleworth.

“There is a bit of a myth that power users don’t like and aren’t interested in usability and ease-of use,” Shuttleworth said. “I think that’s nonsense.”

Shuttleworth said that power users want to have things just work, so they can get things done. They also stress the system in interesting ways and as such Ubuntu is going to continue to focus on usability and ease-of-use that will help power users.

“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 cycle.”

Ubuntu is also working at streamlining their Linux distribution for the corporate desktop. Shuttleworth said that work is ongoing to develop a reference architecture of Ubuntu for the business deployment use case.

Shuttleworth also wants to move beyond the desktop to other devices, including smartphones and tablets.

“It’s increasingly obvious that global users don’t just use desktops,” Shuttleworth said. “We need to look forward and need to target other devices where the next 2 billion humans will be. The future doesn’t just belong to the desktop, it belongs to an array of smart screens.”

Shuttleworth said that within two years he wants to see Ubuntu running on multiple categories of devices. At the heart of the multi-device move will be Unity.

“This is why we call Unity, Unity.” Shuttleworth said. ” We knew from the beginning that we’re moving to a world of convergence.”

He added that it’s not just about having the same code running across five different devices, it’s also about thinking how one device can have multiple personalities.

“We have one core that runs across all the architectures that matter,” Shuttleworth said. “In Unity we have one framework that can deliver coherent user experiences across devices.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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