Mark Shuttleworth Clarifies Canonical’s Role in Ubuntu

If you have followed Ubuntu closely over the last two years, you will notice how it grew rapidly from being a simple Linux distro for the desktop to a full-fledged user experience across multiple devices: television, smartphones, tablets and PCs. This is highly commendable, and this evolution has been made possible by the combined efforts of Canonical and the developer community of Ubuntu. However, as it happens with any large project, some Ubuntu developers are averse to this idea of transforming Ubuntu into a cloud-based multi-device platform.


In a reply to those developers, Mark Shuttleworth has talked about the position of Canonical in the development of Ubuntu. Mark Shuttleworth believes that cloud and mobile have a bright future and will make a bigger impact. Ubuntu needs to gear up for that, and that is the reason that they have focused on this multi-platform strategy. Ubuntu is being made future-proof in this manner.

He has also declared that while Ubuntu is a community effort (and will always be), Canonical plays a major role in this project and nurtures it like a baby.

There are lots of pure community distros. And wow, they are full of politics, spite, frustration, venality and disappointment. Why? Because people are people, and work is hard, and collaboration is even harder. That’s nothing to do with Canonical, and everything to do with life. In fact, in most of the pure-community projects I’ve watched and participated in, the biggest meme is ‘if only we had someone that could do the heavy lifting’. Ubuntu has that in Canonical – and the combination of our joint efforts has become the most popular platform for Linux fans.

Undoubtedly, Canonical’s role in Ubuntu is that of a visionary leader. Canonical has based a business around this product, so it has a vested interest in the Ubuntu project too. That is the reason why Canonical has always played a leadership role in the Ubuntu project and it has done a good job at it. However, there is a high probability that this attitude of Mark Shuttleworth (whose thoughts reflect that of Canonical’s) can actually spark politics, spite, frustration, venality and disappointment in the Ubuntu community, turning it into one of those projects that he so strongly detests as seen above.

Canonical Encourages Users to Donate for Ubuntu Development

Ubuntu has been around for seven years now, and it has seen its ups and downs, but it has been and will always be truly free and open source software. In a recent blog post, Canonical has announced that from now, it will be easier to donate for Ubuntu, as the donations screen is a part of the download process now. Some see this move as a shift in Ubuntu from being free software to becoming donationware.

Donationware is a licensing model that supplies operational unrestricted software to the user and requests an optional donation be paid to the programmer or a third-party beneficiary (usually a non-profit). The amount of the donation may also be stipulated by the author, or it may be left to the discretion of the user, based on individual perceptions of the software’s value.

However, the donations in this case are a lot more purposeful from being simple donations. One can choose the donation amount to be given to each of the Ubuntu features and future plans from Canonical. Currently, donations are accepted for the Ubuntu Desktop project, performance optimizations, hardware support, phone and tablet version of Ubuntu, better co-ordination with upstream, better support for Kubuntu, Lubuntu and other flavors and for Canonical. Currently, the donation page appears only for Ubuntu Desktop edition, but not for the Server or the Cloud Infrastructure downloads.



Is there something wrong with this move or is it our skeptic human mind that is so resistive to change? I personally feel that Canonical has an engaging donation page here, and it will let Ubuntu fans and users choose the features and improvements they want to see next, in the world of Ubuntu.

(Via: Ars Technica)

Amazon Ads and Amazon Store Integration Coming in Ubuntu 12.10

Canonical is finally taking some serious steps towards monetization of the Ubuntu platform. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro and is widely used by home users looking for an alternative to Windows. It has some serious revenue earning potential. The Firefox browser bundled with Ubuntu integrates Google search, which earns a major chunk of revenue for Canonical. Taking this monetization plan further, Ubuntu now wants to integrate affiliate plans from Amazon. Amazon offers an unmatched affiliate program and this will bolster Canonical’s revenue stream from Ubuntu. ubuntu_logo Olli Ries, the Director of Technology at Canonical has commented on a postat the Ubuntu Forum, saying,

Another addition is that we will be including Launcher web apps icons to Amazon and the Ubuntu One Music Store by default. We feel that these icons will provide convenient access to these resources for our users and also benefit the project with the generation of affiliate revenue in those cases that these resources are used.

The Ubuntu community is not very happy with this decision from Canonical, as this was announced after the feature freeze. People are already upset with Unity, and are increasingly shifting to a different desktop environment or a different flavor altogether. Canonical dominates Ubuntu and its development, and it has every right to make money from the distro it has worked so hard to create. For those that do not want the icon on their Unity dashboard, you can simply drag and drop it to the trashcan to remove it. However, Ubuntu has a close competitor in Linux Mint, without all the antics. It has to take wise decision to stay in the competition.

Canonical Shows Off Ubuntu for Android at MWC

Just last week, we reported Canonical’s announcement of Ubuntu for Android. MWC has recently showcased Ubuntu for Android at MWC, and it is impressive with some great tricks up its sleeves. Initially, it might look like a desktop remote control for your Android phone, but there are innumerable features and behind-the-scene events that will change this outlook soon.
Ubuntu for Android shows all our Android applications, contacts and calls in a Unity style application dashboard. It also lets us read and write text messages remotely, from the desktop. All this is facilitated with a custom Linux kernel, and this custom kernel will let us run Android and Ubuntu in parallel. Once we plug our computer into the dock, it will automatically switch to Ubuntu. However, the part that impressed me was where Phil from Android Central tells us that we can use this phone as a thin-client to connect to an application server and demoed it by launching MS PowerPoint from a Windows 7 server.

Mark Shuttleworth announced the plan of Ubuntu for Android, saying,

We’ll show Ubuntu neatly integrated into Android at Mobile World Congress next week. Carry just the phone, and connect it to any monitor to get a full Ubuntu desktop with all the native apps you want, running on the same device at the same time as Android. Magic. Everything important is shared across the desktop and the phone in real time.

Although the feature was showcased at MWC, it is not ready for a public release yet. The release declaration of this year-end still holds. There is a long wait before we can go ahead and use Ubuntu for Android. Until then, this hands-on review from Android Central will keep us interested.

Canonical to Reveal Its Ambitious Plan of Ubuntu for Android at MWC Next Week

Canonical has been aggressive about Ubuntu lately, and wants to push it to every upcoming platform. Currently, Ubuntu can be found on desktops, servers and as recently showcased Ubuntu TV. However, Ubuntu can reach out to a potentially unexplored customer base as a true Linux experience provider in a new avenue. The mobile space has been untouched by Ubuntu, and it is finally planning to step in to this platform.
Canonical teases us with this message on the Ubuntu for Android page.

In every dual-core
phone, there’s
a PC trying
to get out.

From the page, it looks you can simply put your Android phone in a dock, and connect it to a television. Certified business apps from Adobe and Cirtix make this product ready for the enterprise sector too. Moreover, Android and Ubuntu share the same Linux kernel, allowing users to switch between the world’s most popular Linux distro, and the world’s most popular open mobile platform. Canonical has worked extensively with ARM support and this integration of Android and Ubuntu will result in a wonderful synergy.

Mark Shuttleworth announces the plan on his blog writing,

We’ll show Ubuntu neatly integrated into Android at Mobile World Congress next week. Carry just the phone, and connect it to any monitor to get a full Ubuntu desktop with all the native apps you want, running on the same device at the same time as Android. Magic. Everything important is shared across the desktop and the phone in real time.

This product is targeted at high-end mobiles HDMI and USB support. Ubuntu One allows for synchronization across devices and all these great features might create what Canonical calls a “new peripheral ecosystem”.

Ubuntu Tries to Do Away with Menus, Enter Heads Up Display, or HUD

Over the last few years, Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth have become extremely innovative about User Experience (UX). Ubuntu really has some UX experts in its team, and the kind of things that have been coming out of Canonical for the last few months shout out loud that Canonical is putting them to good use. The recent UX change for Ubuntu is “Heads Up Display” or HUD, and it surely looks like a good feature.

Heads Up Display, or HUD is a new way of interacting with applications, where you do not go through multiple menu hierarchies to reach a menu item. Instead, you simply type it and HUD will search it for you, in live. Moreover, HUD remembers what you typed last and prioritizes those commands in search results, so is also very fast for common tasks. It bridges the gap between the command line interface and application menus, and does it wonderfully.

As mentioned by Olli Ries in a blog post, who was once the Principal Director of engineering at Novell, and is one of the Product Strategy Engineering Managers at Canonical presently, plans for HUD were underway even before the last Ubuntu Developer Summit.

Ubuntu 12.04 Named, The Countdown Begins

The very popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu, has received its new name. With every public frozen release of Ubuntu, a code-name is chosen which traces its roots back to when Canonical took the reigns and pushed out ‘Warty Warthog’ in 2004. Since then, each 6 month release has received a name made up of a carefully selected adjective paired to the name of an animal. From 8.10 ‘Intrepid Ibex’ to 11.10 ‘Oneiric Ocelot’,  we have now arrived at the latest iteration of Ubuntu nearing release – 12.04.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical Ltd, explains the thought process for coming up with the newly named release, Precise Pangolin.

We’re looking for something phonetic, something plausible and something peaceful too. We’ll avoid the petulant, the pestilent, the phlegmy (phooey!), the parochial, the palliative and the psychotic. We’re aiming for mildly prophetic, and somewhat potent, without wanting to be all pedantic and particular. Phew.

Let’s ask the question differently what are we trying to convey? 12.04 is an LTS. So we want it to be tough and long-lasting, reliable, solid as a rock and well defended. It’s also going to be the face of Ubuntu for large deployments for a long time, so we want it to have no loose ends, we want it to be coherent, neat.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the  Precise Pangolin.

So, what on earth is a pangolin and why is it precise?

It’s very similar to an ant-eater. It has armor to protect itself, it’s versatile and can adapt to the environment. Fitting name for an operating system that needs to be robust and reliable, yet friendly and approachable by a new user.

To anticipate the launch, the Ubuntu team has put up an online countdown timer. It’s vague and they’re purposely skimping on details to create a stir. The timer runs in real-time and will end in just over 24 hours, when everything will, hopefully, be revealed.

Canonical Releases First Beta of Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

Ubuntu 11.10Canonical has released the first beta of the next version of Ubuntu, the Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”. The release falls in line with the Ubuntu release calendar, with the next beta release scheduled for 22nd September and the final release on 13th October, 2011.

The first beta of Ubuntu 11.10 features 3.0 branch of the Linux kernel, an updated Unity desktop interface serving as the UI shell. The Ubuntu Software Center gets an update with the addition of a top rated apps view.

Ubuntu 11.10 Software Center


New Features And Updated Packages

Some of the new features in this beta release include:

  • Multiarch support: This is a big boon for users who still rely on certain 32-bit applications such as Skype and Adobe Flash Player. Multiarch makes it possible to use the 32-bit packages present in 32-bit editions of Ubuntu without the need for ia32-libs compatibility package.
  • Updated kernel: The kernel is now based on the 3.0 branch of the Linux kernel. While the jump from the 2.6.x series to the 3.0 series is result of a change in the version naming convention rather than any major changes, the updated kernel has received numerous bug fixes and driver updates
  • Updated DVD contents:  The DVD release now stands at 1.5GB, with the available packages  consisting of all the language packs, some useful applications such as Inkscape, GIMP, Pitivi, and a more complete  LibreOffice  suite.
  • New packages: Some of the new packages include Mozilla Thunderbird as the default email client and  Déjà Dup  as the default backup tool. Firefox 7.0 beta is included as the default web browser.
  • Updated packages:  The updated packages  include Python 3.2, GCC 4.6.1, CUPS 1.5.0, Shotwell 0.11, and LibreOffice 3.4.2
  • UI Updates: The beta release features some UI tweaks – including a new Alt+Tab switcher, updated visual indicators and Lenses replacing erstwhile Places, with  support for multiple sources and filtering based on categories for instance.
Filtering feature in Ubuntu 11.10's "Lenses"

Being still in beta I encountered quite a few crashes while using Ubuntu 11.10. I’ve reported most of them and hopefully these should be fixed by the next beta release. You can read  more information about this release over at the Ubuntu Wiki.

Download Links

For those interested in trying out the beta, here are the download links:

Lenovo And Canonical Collaborate To Provide Ubuntu Certified Systems

Yesterday, Canonical founder, Mark Shuttleworth, announced that Canonical is aiming for 200 million Ubuntu users in four years. When he made the announcement, many believed that such a number will not be possible unless Canonical partners with OEMs.

Today, taking a step in that direction, Canonical and Lenovo has announced a collaboration to provide Ubuntu certified Lenovo products such as laptops, desktops and servers. The collaboration between the two companies will mean that users who are buying Lenovo systems can be assured that Ubuntu will work properly on their system.

Canonical has already given the Ubuntu certification to around 30 Lenovo systems. Right now Canonical certifies systems for Ubuntu 11.04, 10.10 and 10.04. With the partnership, it is expected that the number of Ubuntu certified Lenovo systems will increase. Announcing the collaboration, Canonical made the following statement:

Having hardware certified through Canonical provides consumers and corporate user the assurance of a high quality, user-friendly, maintainable operating system on every device. The key benefits of combining Ubuntu with Lenovo Thinkpads is the hassle free operation and a fast reliable performance.

Such collaboration might be just what Ubuntu need. One of the main problem that I see with Ubuntu nowadays is that it does not work well out-of-the-box with certain hardware. For example, with my laptop, Ubuntu 11.04 does not work out-of-the-box. When a new Ubuntu installation does not work out-of-the-box, most of the normal users will not waste their time trying to get the system working and would instead shift to Windows. For this reason, Ubuntu certification might be the next best thing to buying the system with Ubuntu pre-installed. With an Ubuntu certified system, users can be assured that their hardware will work without problems when they install Ubuntu.

You can see the list of Ubuntu certified Lenovo systems here.

Canonical Releases A Component Catalog To Help You Build A Computer Which Just Works With Ubuntu

When we build a PC in which Linux is to be the main OS, we generally have to watch out for hardware that does not work well in Linux. This means searching in Google and going through forums, blog posts etc.

Knowing that this is generally a difficult task for most users, Canonical started the  Ubuntu Certification Program for hardware last year. Originally the program certified only complete machines – that is laptops, desktops and servers – as Ubuntu ready and does not deal with the components that goes into them.

Today, though, Canonical has decided to extend it to the components as well and has released a database of over 1300 components – from processors to keyboards – which will just work with Ubuntu. Canonical compiled this list using the list of Ubuntu certified laptops, desktops and servers, and their experience with working on servers for enterprise.

This is indeed a very useful list for not only Ubuntu users, but also Linux enthusiasts everywhere. This means we now have a centralized database from which we can make sure that our next machine will work well with Ubuntu (or Linux in general).

This is what Victor Palau, Platform Services Manager at Canonical, said

There has not been a comprehensive, up-to-date freely available catalog like this for a long time. By making this open and easily searchable we want to speed the component selection for Ubuntu machines, and allow us and our partner manufacturers to focus on the value-added user experience.

While the list is great from the normal user’s point of view, some proponents of free software may complain that Canonical has not made any distinctions between hardware for which open drivers are available and those for which only proprietary drivers are available. The recent decision from the Debian community to remove the proprietary firmware from the kernel of Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” indicates that people still care about this issue.

Personally, I too think that it would have been better to separate the hardware with proprietary drivers from those with open drivers. But Canonical has done a good job with this database and we should not let that spoil the mood.

You can view the components catalog here.

In case you want to see the list of certified machines, you can see the here.