Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth holds a 1 hour Q&A session following each release of Ubuntu.

And today was the first chance many have had to ask Mark questions about upcoming changes, plans and more following the release of Ubuntu 11.10.

The most interesting questions asked during the session are presented below.

Will 12.04 put an end to the recent criticism of Ubuntu?

There are, of course, valid criticisms and we can’t be too thin-skinned about opinions.

That said, some of the most passionate complaints are from users in two bugs, with directly opposite desires.

Bug (a) says an action should go left, Bug (b) says it should go right, and some of the voices in each bug are unreasonably insistent on their position the design team has to resolve those, and also has to put us ahead of the curve.

We won’t compete if we constantly wait for ideas to be validated elsewhere.

I’m pretty proud of our record of innovation, even we had U1 before iCloud, or the Windows equivalents; we introduced overlay scrollbars first; we designed Unity with a single icon left launcher, and full screen search, before anybody else. Apple’s launchpad, and Gnome Shell all came later.

Change will always make people pissy but i think, if we voxed [means to ask] you all in the channel, you would say you want the platform of the future, not one from the past so that’s what we’re working on and we do it with integrity, and care.

Have you noticed that Ubuntu has dropped in the Distrowatch rankings?

(Host note: distrowatch doesn’t measure usage of distros, just clicks on hits to their distribution pages on their site.) – aka. not a metric. :)

Kudos to [Linux] Mint for the jump in ratings. I’m glad Ubuntu has great derivatives, and i’m [confident] Unity will remain the #1 desktop environment for years to come.

distrowatch rankings

Considering how large of a step Unity was, and the fact that it still needs polish on the desktop alone, isn’t availability of resources a concern for the phone/tv/etc plans?

Sure it is. All help gratefully accepted :-)

There is a steady flow of contributions, which is fantastic. There’s lots we would like to fix, but [we] must focus on the core. It’s a fun project to hack on, and millions get to enjoy the result. Plus, you get OMG-love.

We’re growing the Unity team internally, but the perfectionism of a community process cannot be beaten so the more, the merrier.

Do you really think you can compete with iOS and Android on TV/Tablet/Phone?

With your help, we have a chance. Design is really important, as is our ability to deliver a platform that is perceived to be more open.

I think this is vital, or client-side Linux will ultimately stay limited to, shall we say, the technologically blessed.

With all the improvements coming with the release of Qt5 would not be better to concentrate the effort just on the QML/Qt version of Unity?

Could be.

The unity-3d team need to show that it’s worth keeping both versions in play, and the -2d team need to show they can deliver the slick vision we have for Unity.

Think of it as a bit of a race [and] contribute where you think you can make the biggest impact.

What are some examples of design either in the Ubuntu community/apps that have inspired you?

The Novacut folks have some really interesting ideas [and] I like a lot of the elementary work, too.

The web is really the place we should look to, and games – those are both fast-moving, agile, competitive, and unconstrained.

Are you committed to keeping Gnome Shell supported and easy to install in Ubuntu?

[It] depends how easy the Shell folks make that to achieve. I’m not committed if they decide to make it very difficult, or impossible, or to continue to say things like ‘Ubuntu’s overlay scrollbars are not compatible with upstream Gnome’. [Editors note: This ‘claim’ has since been retracted]

We worked hard to influence and improve the design of Shell, but it turned out the best way to achieve that was to lead, so we did, and will continue to do so.

Anything about a new icon theme for Precise?

We need a new icon theme.

We have agreed to do a proper study on iconography, with the University of Reading, and lay out a roadmap for a new icon set, which we will welcome participation.

The full IRC log for the Q&A session can be found @ irclogs.ubuntu.com/2011/11/23/%23ubuntu-classroom.html

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