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Mark Shuttleworth Says Ubuntu Desktop “Remains Really Important”

But says Canonical 'failed' to take Ubuntu mainstream in personal computing

Mark Shuttleworth has reiterated that the Ubuntu desktop “remains really important” to Canonical.

He made the comments in an interview with The Cube at the OpenStack Summit 2017 taking place in the USA this week.

Asked to describe the current state of Ubuntu following last month’s announcement that Canonical is to end investment in Ubuntu Phone, Unity 8, convergence, the Ubuntu founder admitted that Ubuntu ‘failed’ to take Ubuntu mainstream in personal computing.

“Where we failed, and I feel responsible for miscalculating, was our push into personal computing: phones, tablets, PCs.”

“The three legs of computing: personal computing, data centre/cloud computing, and edge – the IoT world, which is neither data centre or personal. I had dreamed of Ubuntu sort of going mainstream in all 3 [legs]. Clearly Ubuntu is the de facto standard now for cloud computing and the data centre — and also, I think, arguably, for the edge.

Where we failed, and I feel responsible for miscalculating effectively, was our push into personal computing: phones, tablets, PCs.

The desktop remains really important to us in support of developers, who are really the lifeblood of free software and open-source and IT innovation.

But as a business we chose to focus on these two: the cloud, where we are very strong, and IoT, where I think the story is only just beginning. But, again, y’know, we’re at the centre of everything you’ve ever read about self-driving cars, for example.

That required some changes in the business. Those are, at an emotional level, challenging changes, but from the point of view of the people who depend on us, who are really our customers in cloud and at the edge, that’s better focus on the things they care about.”

The interview also touches on Mark Shuttleworth’s return as CEO of Canonical, where he pays credit to the strengths of out-going CEO Jane Silber, noting that “…there are a bunch of disciplines that [Jane Silber] has mastered that I now have to take the reins on.”

Other topics touched on the interview include profitability in OpenStack; the future of containers;  and where things are headed next (and yes, Snaps get do get a shout out!).