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Ubuntu Is Hyper-Active At OSCON 379

Posted by kdawson
from the as-one-might-expect dept.
ruphus13 writes "Ubuntu and Canonical have been very active at OSCON this year. They showcased a new distro, announced improvements to their code-hosting platform, and made Mark Shuttleworth available for a couple of talks and panel sessions. Quoting: 'Ubuntu Netbook Remix, a complete distribution designed to run on Atom-based Netbook PCs. The main difference that sets it apart from its big brother Hardy Heron is the Ubuntu Mobile Edition (UME) Launcher, a user interface created specifically for use on the teensy screens and keyboards of today's popular ultra-portable computers.' Canonical also announced Version 2.0 of Launchpad, their code-hosting platform. Enhancements include 'a planned API that'll allow third-party applications to authenticate, query and modify data in the massive Launchpad database, without a user needing to manually access the system via a browser.' Mark Shuttleworth went on to state that Linux's market share will grow when it has better eye-candy than Apple's."
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Ubuntu Is Hyper-Active At OSCON

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  • If its shiny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:43PM (#24311433) Homepage Journal
    they will come...
    I think Shuttleworth might be on to something there.
  • Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:45PM (#24311465) Journal

    Wake me up when I can actually install it on my HP laptop and have the drivers actually work. I'm pretty disillusioned with Hardy Heron on this one. Ubuntu's supporters have got as bad as Microsoft's "Just wait until the next version, then it'll work..."

  • Re:If its shiny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:46PM (#24311485)

    And yet I still haven't "upgraded" to Vista.

    Funny how that works.

  • by Tragek (772040) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:47PM (#24311507) Journal

    At least, not in the markets where linux is competing against it. It's ease of use, and the "it-just-works" factor.

  • by seanonymous (964897) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:49PM (#24311549)
    Eye candy? Yeah, let me know when my mom can walk into the Ubuntu store and have someone walk her through sending photos.
  • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:50PM (#24311563)
    Vista has better "eye candy" than XP, even arguably better than OSX, but many people aren't switching because it's not just about "candy." It's about user experience, in which animation and soothing visuals play only a part. Simplicity is more important than prettiness, and the ability of the user to know somewhat intuitively what a button will do goes a lot farther than 3D visual effects.
  • Re:If its shiny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smussman (1160103) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:52PM (#24311581)
    I think it's because an OS should have the shiny UI, *and* reliability/good hardware support.

    I think Vista is a pretty good reason why trying for just the one doesn't work.
  • Not eye candy. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by heteromonomer (698504) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:52PM (#24311587)
    I disagree with that last statement of the article. It's not the eye candy that's the clincher. It's the user-friendliness, tightness and seamlessness of integration, consistency across the interface and hardware compatibility.
  • by spazdor (902907) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:53PM (#24311603)

    This thread is the correct one.

    Apple has the die-hard users it does because it functions perfectly for their needs and doesn't make them do any work.

    When you don't have to present too many diverse options and functions, it's pretty easy to make the results look sleek. If Apple even tried to provide as much at-a-glance information in their UI that Linux users have gotten used to, they'd have something as messy as the Vista dockwharfpier.

  • Marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @05:58PM (#24311655) Homepage Journal

    I have people telling me they want Apple computers, and they have never seen the UI of OS X.

    They want Apple computers because of marketing and hype. They are becoming trendy status symbols. (Put the flame-throwers away, I'm not commenting on quality here). Linux doesn't have a marketing department. That is why Linux won't take a sizable chunk out of the desktop market.

    People draw comparisons to Firefox and its adoption, but Firefox grew when it adopted a marketing campaign. People seem to forget that.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:2, Insightful)

    by s.bots (1099921) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @06:16PM (#24311851)
    The inclusion of a beta in a LTS makes far more sense than including a browser that will soon be outdated and unsupported. Firefox 3 will exit beta long before Ubuntu releases another LTS. Definitely agree with the rest of the comment though, 8.04 could've used some more time.
  • You have turned Mark Shuttleworth's sensible idea into an offensive idea.

    He is merely saying that Linux needs more work on the user interfaces, so that it can compete with Apple's well-designed products.

    Users are sensible to demand that software make things easy for them. Why should every user do more work because programmers wanted to same themselves some work?
  • by radarsat1 (786772) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @06:40PM (#24312099) Homepage

    Forget the UI, it's usable and that's what matters. What Ubuntu needs now is support from other players in the software market.

    Honestly, I'm pretty well convinced at this point that Ubuntu is "ready". I know tons of people that would switch to it if they could. The crux of the problem is that the major applications these people depend on (or at least, are used to using) don't run on it. What Ubuntu needs more than anything is to make deals with the major players in various software markets (graphics, video, gaming, CAD, simulation, RAD languages, etc) to port their applications. I don't know how this could happen, but I'm pretty sure it's necessary for us to see major adoption.

    While there obviously are some amazing and great tools that come with Ubuntu, it needs to be possible for someone to use those few applications they need. Companies need to start offering Ubuntu versions of their products. If that happens, it's game, set, match. And I actually think this would be possible: considering how disheartened many people feel about Vista, convincing them to port to another platform in order to reduce their dependency on MS might not be so difficult anymore. People seem to be finally seeing the pattern than dependence on a moving target like Windows can come back to bite them.

    I think a few deals in this direction might actually have the potential to push Ubuntu into the mass market.

  • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @06:59PM (#24312309)

    Yes, from a technical standpoint it is better. But tell someone that isn't "technical" how to install an app they need. You either tell them to go to the command prompt, which scares the hell out of them, or you tell them to use a tool like synaptic, that has so many choices and things you can install that it is just plain overwhelming. They want to play movies, they don't want to decide if they want Totem, Gstreamer, VLC, etc...

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @07:02PM (#24312343) Homepage

    When Apple introduces eye-candy, they use it sparingly themselves, and make a great API and developer tools so developers can also use it in their apps.

    Linux eye-candy seems to hit a dead end, where all it gets used for is for the original project that developed it to see how many different flashy effects they can make.

    The Linux projects need to realize that it is not about the flashy eye-candy itself--it's about providing more capabilities to application developers.

  • by nostriluu (138310) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @07:18PM (#24312491) Homepage

    The typical engineering geek response is that it's "shiny," "pretty," and just skin deep. But in reality what it is, is consistency, a carefully considered experience that starts with design first - not colours and gradiants, but design elements and human factors - and fit the features to that. Read some Raskin, for example, to understand.

    Until the software developers starts respecting designers and stops being a bunch of alpha monkeys talking about what they decided to code up that day for themselves, Apple will continue to lead in this area. And I'm not even an Apple fanboy, but it is the truth.

  • by nawcom (941663) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @07:28PM (#24312575) Homepage

    As a developer myself for OS X and Linux, I still prefer Slackware over anything else distribution-wise. Give 12.1 a try; it's not anymore "behind" than any other distribution, it just doesn't depend on a memory hungry framework that some distributions install (package management, settings management(uggh think openSuse) and it comes with gcc by default. it doesn't depend on offline package management, for someone modified apt-get to work with tgzs (slapt-get and swaret). And yes, you can download the kernel source from the ftp, build it, and install it along with the compiled modules without any struggle over dependencies. It's still "Linux", at least the one you are in search of ;).

    Also, I want to say that I think Ubuntu can be defined as an OS by itself (that uses the Linux kernel) is if they create a nice X11 interface that defines what Ubuntu is. The main issue between any 2 distributions is that other than the package management and any special apps they include, everything else is the same, and if not there, can be built and added. just for shits and giggles I compiled apt-get, and grabbed a few apps to test out. i also tested out the deb2tgz app that converts it to slackware packages, and I had the default gnome desktop that Ubuntu comes with on a Slackware machine. That's just the easibility of the friendly applications it comes with; if I only want it to look like the default DE that Ubuntu uses, I can put it on anything that runs an X11 server with a decent video card.

    Oh well, the reason I am posting these opinions that I have is that I think Ubuntu can really become something other than "another user-friendly Linux distribution" if they design a special DE that truely integrates every piece of code that they run off the GNU based OS that runs off of the Linux kernel. Sort of the same way Apple has OS X running off of and is integrated with the Darwin OS, that runs off of xnu, the mach kernel.

  • Re:Marketing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nate B. (2907) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @07:38PM (#24312683) Homepage Journal

    I think the "problem" is a bit deeper than most people will care to admit. Apple is a common word and the name of a computer company with 30+ years of history behind it. Mention ipod or iphone and even non-techies can identify the company behind it.

    Ubuntu sounds multicultural and foreign. No offense, but most people will readily identify Apple and remain cautious about Ubuntu. That may not be what anyone here wants to read, but I don't think the Free Software desktop can go head-on with Apple with the Ubuntu name leading the way and expect the Free Software desktop to be anything but roadkill in Apple's wake, no matter how shiny it is.

    The grandparent has swerved into the truth, Apple is an exclusive brand that is hot now and has been hot for several years. Likewise, Linux and F/OSS is its own exclusive brand that appeals to a different group of people. I don't fault Mr. Shuttleworth for trying to improve the Free Desktop as I think it's a worthy goal. I just think it's a fool's game to try to out-Apple Apple.

  • by krkhan (1071096) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @08:16PM (#24313035) Homepage
    When Shuttleworth is saying that Linux Desktop still needs eye-candy polish to compete with Apple, he's probably referring to Ubuntu per se. A properly configured Compiz Fusion and Emerald (with stuff like shadows and plugins like Group and Tab, Expo) coupled with Screenlets and Avant Window Navigator/Kiba-Dock and proper themes looks almost as good as a Mac if not better. Obviously though, all that stuff is not easy to configure for newcomers, so what *Ubuntu* needs to do in terms of eye-candy is to streamline the process of its configuration.

    Linux Desktop in general is *not* trailing behind any other OS, and in fact, it may be leading in terms of special effects. Distributions such as Ubuntu just haven't made it accessible to general public yet.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @08:24PM (#24313089)

    Are you sure that was the last missing part? There's still a problem with getting manufacturers of PC components designed for home use to work wholeheartedly with the Ubuntu community.

    Sure, but 98% of the things I plug into my Linux box work 100% fine and are up fast. The last time I plugged in a simple flash drive into a Vista box, it took at least a minute trying to find the driver and eventually worked. Then there are all kinds of other things that Vista needs a driver for but they work out-of-the-box for Linux. Just about anything except for ATI/nVidia cards with work 100% out-of-the-box.

    I don't see penguin logos on boxes, and not everybody has a working printer and enough paper to print out a distribution's hardware compatibility list and carry it into a local computer store.

    But with Ubuntu you don't need that just about everything will work without any configuration. And the things that don't either are A) specialty devices that most of the time the programs for using them are Windows-only or B) Major computer components that are mostly built-in when you buy a computer (Wi-Fi cards, Graphics cards, Sound cards, etc.). But as for buying just about anything you can be 99% sure it will work on the newest Ubuntu, and if not, than download the alpha/beta of the next one and most of the time it will work.

  • Re:Marketing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @08:36PM (#24313189)

    the major GNU/Linux distros (and BSD too) are getting there, but some parts still too esoteric for Aunt Minnie or Grandma.

    Really, other than the install process (which, honestly the install for Windows is a lot more difficult, but it is usually pre-installed), Ubuntu is just about easy enough for anyone to use with little to no problems.

    Half the "problem" is teaching people that Linux != Windows. And that is the major reason why OS X can get away with not being Windows. When you buy a Mac, you don't buy a computer, you buy a Mac. When you use Linux, you still have your hardware that ran Windows, it doesn't look any different, and so they think it should act the same. With a Mac it looks different so they expect it to act different.

    If you take 2 people who have never used a computer and stick one in front of Ubuntu and the other in front of a Windows desktop, the one running Ubuntu is most likely to figure out things better than the Windows user.

  • Re:If its shiny (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @08:41PM (#24313221)

    Compiz and KDE 4 (If they ever get KDE 4 to work right) will definitely start to draw people to Ubuntu.

    Yes on Compiz, no on KDE 4. Even being used to KDE, GNOME and every other DE available for *Nix, KDE 4 just feels... Odd. Sure it may be better than KDE 3 or GNOME, but to a Windows user, KDE 4 along with looking like Vista (big mistake right there), doesn't have the same look and feel as Windows or GNOME. I think that GNOME with Compiz will attract people, but KDE 4 just won't work for Windows refugees. (And, no I don't mean this as a KDE flame, I like how KDE 4 is new and different, but, to attract people from Windows it needs to be at least somewhat familiar)

  • I'm pretty sure the Linux (you really mean Compiz) plugin architecture is a hella more flexible. It's basically, here's a texture and have fun morphing it, give it back when you're done.

    So you could install a program to do, well, anything at all. If I understand it right.

  • by FoxconnGuy (997669) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @09:30PM (#24313607) Homepage

    And a regular user of Ubuntu daily.

    The reason that Ubuntu can be popular is not about Ubuntu, it's about Vista.

    Microsoft has a fundamental problem since Ballmer is on: Strategy is more important than technology.

    Yes, strategy can be a great weapon. Just like medication can heal your disease. But it also can be poisonous if you overdose.

    As I knew, the root of Linux is not about defeating other OS. It is about creating a better OS, thereafter, a better world. It is Microsoft's problem to create a better OS. If Microsoft does, Linux can also be improved since there are better designs.

  • by Yfrwlf (998822) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @09:31PM (#24313611)
    But with Ubuntu you don't need that just about everything will work without any configuration.

    You're right to some degree there, however the parent's point about penguins on the boxes is a huge problem. For Linux to be "easy", it has to have hardware which tells consumers that it's Linux-compatible. But the thing in the way of solving that is Tux's catch22: "Linux won't get support until it gets widely used, but it won't see wide use until it gets support." The problem is being solved, it's just slow. Even the supposed thing with ATI/AMD releasing their new graphics cards, the Radeon HD 48x0's, that would have Tux on the box never happened. Disappointing. However, since driver installation is still insane on Linux, it's not too surprising that manufacturers don't support it better. If they had a kernel module or API which OEMs could use for quick driver installation so you wouldn't have to compile or reinstall your driver for every kernel upgrade you went through, and could also provide an install package that could register itself with the most common package managers out there by using a universally accepted packaging API, then I think you'll start seeing that happening more. Examples of this effort include the Burgdorf Packaging API here [linuxfoundation.org]. (Before someone says it, yeah I know giving it to the kernel devs to have them package it for you is another option, but Linux needs to be modular enough to allow either method to occur. Anything that helps adoption by helping easy installation is a good thing, and will increase Linux's adoption, and that's all I want to see happen. Users still will have the choice to use binary blobs or not, but they will have a lot more choices when Linux adoption becomes greater.)

    I'm anxious to see progress with hardware support by having databases, or better yet more online stores selling Tux-compatible hardware so you never have to go to the store to begin with.
  • Re:Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @09:41PM (#24313671) Homepage

    The point being that this whole conversation is supposed to revolve around "It just works". Personally, I got Hardy Heron working on my HP laptop. I had to do some serious internet searches and play fun games with NDISwrapper and some alpha quality sound system, but I got it working. I also install and configure Linux workstations for a living. If its possible to make something work in Linux, chances are I can make it work. If I handed that CD to my wife, and said, "hey babe, install this and make work." she'd never be able to do it.

    That's the problem. Every time one of these "Linux For The Masses" articles comes out you get about 30% people who had no problem installing, 30% people with some vaguely non-standard or proprietary bit of their system that either prevented them from installing or kept the install only partially usable, and 20% people trying to explain to the second 30% that they should have read the HCL, checked the bug reports, searched the obscure forums, or generally done a bunch of stuff that the MASSES WON"T DO then it would have worked or they 'd have known it wouldn't work.

    If this was an article about Linux on Dev workstations or server configuration your point would be valid. As it is you more or less admit that the system is not ready for the masses.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @09:47PM (#24313735)

    You're right to some degree there, however the parent's point about penguins on the boxes is a huge problem. For Linux to be "easy", it has to have hardware which tells consumers that it's Linux-compatible.

    Because most of the people read the boxes for Windows support? Not anymore. It has been accepted that, whether there is a nice Windows logo on there or not, it will work with Windows unless it says "For Mac" or is made by Apple. Linux will be the same, no need for fancy logos, etc. Though I do try to buy things that have Linux on the system requirements (such as flash drives, all will work with Linux I know, but I would rather buy the one that specifically mentions it, vote with your wallet)

    But the thing in the way of solving that is Tux's catch22: "Linux won't get support until it gets widely used, but it won't see wide use until it gets support." The problem is being solved, it's just slow. Even the supposed thing with ATI/AMD releasing their new graphics cards, the Radeon HD 48x0's, that would have Tux on the box never happened. Disappointing. However, since driver installation is still insane on Linux, it's not too surprising that manufacturers don't support it better. If they had a kernel module or API which OEMs could use for quick driver installation so you wouldn't have to compile or reinstall your driver for every kernel upgrade you went through, and could also provide an install package that could register itself with the most common package managers out there by using a universally accepted packaging API, then I think you'll start seeing that happening more.

    But the thing is, if they would just release the specs for the hardware, even under a NDA, someone could write a kernel driver for it, include it with the main kernel and all would be good. And there are a lot of people that are willing to do it. And I honestly don't want to do what I have to do with Windows and that is install some driver, which installs some proprietary application to do something that should be done with a generic driver for things such as printers, USB drives, etc. And it is really bad if you lose the CD that comes with it and then have unusable hardware... So, in the way, free reversed engineered drivers are slow, but they are better than the super-proprietary, niche drivers that the manufacturers want to give us for No-Good-Reason (TM).

    Anything that helps adoption by helping easy installation is a good thing, and will increase Linux's adoption, and that's all I want to see happen. Users still will have the choice to use binary blobs or not, but they will have a lot more choices when Linux adoption becomes greater.)

    Linux does not need an easy install to be used. If you have *ever* had to reinstall XP, it is a headache, compare that to Ubuntu's install. Ubuntu generally gives you good defaults with few hard choices rather than Window's installer (like how is a novice user supposed to know which to format the disks as, FAT or NTFS?). DOS wasn't good. But it was pre-installed so that's what everyone used. Windows wasn't great either, but it was the only thing you could get for a long time. When/if Dell starts actually promoting the systems they have with Ubuntu on them, I expect the marketshare to rise. Seriously, Dell and the OSS community would have a lot to gain if Dell didn't hide the Ubuntu systems in a dark corner of their website.

  • Re:Marketing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yfrwlf (998822) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @09:53PM (#24313779)
    First I just have to say, awesome journal. Thank you so much for promoting cross-anything usability. In order for everyone to have access to all software, having that software use modular/extensible APIs/ABIs so that they can always function in the best way in any environment is very important. The Freedesktop project is very important in helping to bring more interoperability to the Linux system, so I wish them all luck in this struggle. It'll be amazing when a way can be found to make any program have the look and feel of the native desktop or whatever user-defined look that they want, and when configuration files and data can all be stored in similar locations, like just off the user's home directory, instead of being buried inside .kde or .gnome. Heck, I'll be happy when my KDE program menu icons start displaying correctly in Gnome.

    While it's fine and great that Ubuntu has become a noticed distro, I'll be happier when "Linux" becomes more common. When you can download virtually any distro and it will simply be a specific selection of Linux software, but you can go out and easily download and install any Linux software or drivers you want. Then, it won't need to be "Ubuntu", it will just need to be "made for Linux". Some distros may not be concerned with cross-distro software portability because they have an interest in users coming to them for help, instead of to the actual upstream providers of the software, since some of these distros are based on wanting to create a need for support. However, just like not having desktop standards hurts everyone, not having easy cross-distro software installation does the same. Fortunately, there are projects like the Burgdorf Packaging API [linuxfoundation.org] which are working on solving this issue, as well as more top-level solutions like Zero Install [0install.net], and of course both of these projects could use more support from everyone. :)
  • Re:Marketing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ElBeano (570883) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:06PM (#24313891)

    "Ubuntu sounds multicultural and foreign..."

    Maybe that's just all right. I realize many Linux geeks look down on Ubuntu because they secretely loathe its popularity and appeal to broader audiences. I like the fact that I have more freedom (and power) with the OS than with anything else going. Furthermore, I like to think of myself as a world citizen, not a mindless disciple of messiah Jobs.

    Ubuntu is not Apple. Thankfully.

  • Re:Marketing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:33PM (#24314087) Homepage

    Yes, but the n00b surfers are still convinced somehow that they need msoffice for compatability. This even interferes with their potential defection to Macintosh. It's quite bizarre really...

  • Technically if a user has enabled the D-Bus Compiz plugin any application can connect to the D-Bus desktop-integration system and start telling the eye-candy what to do. Nobody really writes code for that mostly because it doesn't come standard and no fall-back exists when the user doesn't have Compiz installed.

  • Re:Marketing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Almahtar (991773) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @01:14AM (#24315011) Journal

    the implied lie that Linux can be everything you want it to be

    I don't know that it's such a lie.

    I just bought a macbook pro and immediately dual booted it with Ubuntu because OSX can't do what I want it to do, but with a bit of configuration Ubuntu can look as flashy as OSX yet still give me what I want.

    Spaces can do a lot, but it isn't as flexible as compiz-fusion. Finder just plain doesn't support sftp, and OSX apps don't either, not in the sense that gnome/kde apps do.

    As is I get the usability of OSX with the technical advancement that only gnome and kde have. It's only available in Linux.

  • Re:Marketing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by R_Dorothy (1096635) on Thursday July 24, 2008 @05:13AM (#24316011)

    In my experience it's people who aren't computer savvy that find switching easier, even preferable. Once people have started to equate 'knowing Windows' with 'knowing computers' then they tend to come to the conclusion that Linux is hard to use.

    To a point, the more you know about a subject the harder it is to admit that you don't know something new about that subject. (The second of the three steps to enlightenment.)

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