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Mark Shuttleworth Q+A Part 2: iTunes on Linux, Thoughts On WINE & Jaunty’s Biggest Weakness…

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This is part 2 of Mark Shuttleworth’s monthly Q+A with the Ubuntu Community. You can read Part One here.

‘MS’ = Mark Shuttleworth


Has there been any dialog with Apple on bringing official iTunes/iPod support to Linux? This has been another stumbling block to linux adoption…

MS: None of which i’m aware.


What’s the chances of Canonical convincing Adobe to port Creative Suite?

MS: It is possible if we can show that enough people will buy it to make it worthwhile for them.


Are there any plans to incorporate GNOME-Do into the desktop?

MS: Isn’t it already there? I saw it on a fresh UNR install recently, so thought it was there by default.

It’s great work – the project leader is now on the design team working on Ayatana so expect more good stuff.


What do you think is the biggest weakness of 9.04?

MS: Some graphics driver glitches, and the fact that we never got kerneloops in but nothing major. 9.10 will be a little crazy, with graphical boot and big changes to X so I’m glad 9.04 is so solid.


Is there work being done with companies (I’m looking at you Dell) to offer Ubuntu at the same time as Windows? I still can’t get a mini 10 with ubuntu on it.

MS: Yes, that is coming but it’s a huge effort. You can, however, get a version of Ubuntu that is not a complete resource hog, or 6 years old…


Where do you see the netbook market headed? are there vendors expected to roll out UNR?

MS: A few more vendors will announce UNR devices that i’m aware of which is great. It’s turned out to be very popular with people who have bought devices that had various custom versions of Linux on it.

We are actively developing it, and adding features which will be unique to the vendors when they ship, but which will then migrate into the subsequent Ubuntu releases.


As software gets bigger and bigger, when do you think Ubuntu will ditch the live CD and go for a live DVD?

MS: The discipline of the CD has served us well.

I think USB sticks are more interesting than DVD’s, personally if we could put everything on… we would not have such interesting choices to make!


Do you see Wine (and Windows-compatibilty in general) or native Linux ports as the more important ingredient in the success of Ubuntu, or do they each play an important role?

MS: They both play an important role but fundamentally the free software ecosystem needs to thrive on its own rules. It is *different* to the proprietary software universe. We need to make a success of our own platform on our own terms.

If Linux is just another way to run Windows apps, we can’t win – OS/2 tried that.


Do you think Kubuntu is a blue headed step child that every seems to think it is? If not, can you put the rumours to rest, with possibly a song or a lovely poem letting everyone know just how much you really love us over in the Kubuntu community?

MS: Oh dear this question makes me rather sad because i don’t know what else i could do. I worked out the other day that i personally spend more than $2m a year supporting Kubuntu and KDE and yet those communities think it’s cool to act unloved.

I think the Kubuntu community’s work is amazing, and they should be proud of it there’s no need to make out like it’s against the forces of corporate indifference when in fact I and many others bend a long way to make it possible. That’s about enough on the subject.


What would you say is the biggest barrier to widespread Ubuntu adoption? (By widespread, I mean a market share >30%)

MS: Delivering an amazing end user experience.

Ubuntu is good enough for those of us who choose it, as it gets better more will choose it.

Our weakest points are the basic user experience (it feels fragmented and disjointed sometimes), multimedia because of patents and hardware support.

I’m working on user experience with the Ayatana team and hardware support is improving steadily as industry learns to love Linux.


Will Ubuntu only truly begin to compete with the likes of Apple when the project can dictate hardware specs to manufacturers? Is catering for so many different forms of hardware a realistic approach long-term?

MS: Yes, i think we need to work with the full range of hardware, not narrow the focus to a subset as Apple does – it works well for them, don’t think it would work for us.


Recent surveys indicate that of those switching from XP but _not_ to Windows 7, 27% would go to OSX and 25% would go to Ubuntu, with Red Hat, Suse, and others below. What do we need to do to overtake OSX?

MS: 2%? ;-) I thought that was an AMAZING result, btw – credit to the whole community for that mostly.

I think we need to stand up and be proud, encourage all of our family and friends to make the switch to free software and promise to stand by them throughout since WE are mostly the people who support them, anyhow!

We do need to deliver classy, tight, useful software, so bring the lessons of Web 2.0 to the desktop – lean, mean, fast and easy to use and we will do well.


A new announcement by Microsoft says there will be Open Office support in Office 2007, do you think that one way to gain users is to make Microsoft Adapt to us?

MS: I’m glad that they will do this, but i hear the support is terrible. I think we should rather push harder for open document standards – the ISO standards process was embarrassing last year.

We have this amazing thing – the web – built entirely on an open format and yet .doc lives in the dark ages purely because governments and companies chickened out of demanding that openness. If we demand openness, then we’ll get a better long term result.