Next Ubuntu Release to have Qt Applications

Ubuntu‘s founder and CEO of Canonical Ltd., Mark Shuttleworth, declares the probability of including Qt applications in the release after the next (Ubuntu 11.10), of the popular Ubuntu distribution, which is based on the Gtk toolkit.

“As part of our planning for Natty+1, we’ll need to find some space on the CD for Qt libraries, and we will evaluate applications developed with Qt for inclusion on the CD and default install of Ubuntu.”

Ubuntu  logo
Gtk and Qt have traditionally been “rival” toolkits for the GNOME and KDE desktops respectively. Choosing either of the sides in any self-respecting Linux forum, is considered a sure-shot way to start a flame war. However, Mark Shuttleworth, as always, decides to wade through uncharted waters in proclaiming the co-existence of Gtk as well as Qt applications in a production, mainstream and popular OS like Ubuntu, notwithstanding the fact that there exists seperate distributions for each Desktop environment, viz. GNOME and KDE (Kubuntu)

In his blog, Mark explains his controversial decision by pointing out that Canonical is dedicated to providing best-in-class software to it’s users and to this effect, a “capable toolkit” like Qt could certainly be looked upon as a “divergence from the canonical way to maintain a vibrant ecosystem”.

Qt logo
Apart from aspects like sociological backlashes, Mark and his team of developers will also have to face some pretty daunting technical issues. For example, Qt-based applications will have to talk to GNOME’s dconf configuration system to have a seamless integration with the GNOME Desktop. Although projects like the GTK-QT Engine are already out there, their credibility of being more than “hacks” is yet to be verified for their inclusion in a mass-deployed project like Ubuntu.

Is the Gtk-Qt marriage possible ? And if this does turn out to be a successful venture, will Ubuntu see other toolkits and libraries like Enlightenment, being included in future releases ? With so many changes to Ubuntu, can Canonical manage to uphold Ubuntu’s status as one of the most popular Linux Operating Systems ?

Do let us know what you think ?

Ubuntu 10.10 Will Support Multi-Touch

For those planning to use Ubuntu 10.10 on touch screen devices, there is excellent news – Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat will support multi-touch.

Earlier Mark Shuttleworth said that they are not developing Ubuntu for tablet devices. They are not developing a tablet specific version, but Canonical has officially announced that they are adding multi-touch and gesture support in Ubuntu Netbook Edition.

Canonical is pleased to announce the release of uTouch 1.0, Ubuntu’s multi-touch and gesture stack. With Ubuntu 10.10 (the Maverick Meerkat), users and developers will have an end-to-end touch-screen framework — from the kernel all the way through to applications.

The Canonical UTouch Framework is what will be supporting muti-touch and gestures in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. It consists of several components:

  • Gesture Engine Interface and Support
  • Gesture Recognition And Instantiation Library
  • Gesture Test

You can see more technical details at the mailing list.

The UTouch framework will also use a four-finger language, which again is developed by Canonical. With this four-finger gesture language, users can go beyond simple gestures and chain together different gestures to make more sophisticated commands. You can read more about this gesture language here.

The UTouch Framework will be included by default in the Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. In UNE, windows management support gestures. You can minimize, maximize etc. using gestures. Desktop users will need to install Unity to see this in action.

A PPA has been setup for testing. It is not recommended that you install these unless you can bear with some problems it may cause. However, if you want to test, it execute the following (Maverick only) :

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:utouch-team/utouch
sudo apt-get update

[sources: Canonical Blog, Mark Shuttleworth]

Canonical To Start Tracking Ubuntu Installations Starting From Ubuntu 10.10

Today a new package has been added to the repository of Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. This package, called canonical-census, is meant to for Canonical to track the OEM Ubuntu installations around the world.

This is what the source code description says:

Send an “I am alive” ping to Canonical. This is used for surveying how many original OEM installs are still existing on real machines. Note that this does not send any user specific data; it only transmits the operating system version (/var/lib/ubuntu_dist_channel), the machine product name, and a counter how many pings were sent.

Right now though, the package will not track everyone who install Ubuntu. It is only meant to track those who bought their system with Ubuntu pre-installed.

And if you are worrying about privacy and stuffs, the package will not not send any data which can identify the user (as the description above says). It is only meant to ping canonical just to let them know that the default Ubuntu installation is still alive. And if you are the paranoid type and do not want it to ping as well, you can just remove the package. I for one would not mind this package even in a non-OEM systems if it will help Ubuntu become better.

Unlike paid operating systems like Windows, there are currently no way for Canonical to track the Ubuntu installations. Since they encourage users to copy and share the Ubuntu CDs, it is even harder to track them. The introduction of this package looks like a first step by Canonical to understand the usage of Ubuntu properly.

If you are interested and want to take a peek at the source code, here is the link.

Are you concerned with the idea of Canonical tracking the Ubuntu installations?

[via Phoronix]

New Ubuntu Fonts – No You Cannot Use Them Yet!

Canonical Design has introduced new Ubuntu fonts which will be used in the next release, Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. The new fonts will not be available to everyone, though, as it has been released as a private beta. Only Ubuntu Members are allowed access to the new font through a private PPA. The fonts will be released as a public beta on 8th August. So if you are not an Ubuntu Member, you have to wait till then.

Regarding new font, this is what Canonical Design said:

The Ubuntu font (family) is open-type ttf based font format and fully unicode compliant. It contains Latin A and B extended character sets, Greek Polytonic and Cyrillic extended. The font has been hinted for superior screen display. Its spacing and kerning is optimised for body copy sizes.

Another point of interest with the new fonts is that Canonical Design have said that “exact details of the license are not confirmed”. This has led to some speculation that Canonical may release it under a proprietary license. If they do release it under a proprietary license, it will go completely against the Ubuntu Philosophy. As of now, the Ubuntu Philosophy dictates that Ubuntu will not come with proprietary software by default. This is the reason why you have to install Flash, video and audio codecs etc.  separately  after installing Ubuntu.

This decision to release it as a closed beta and the licensing uncertainty has not gone down well with some Ubuntu Members. Some have even spoken up against Canonical.

However, they have made their decision and you have to wait till 8th August to get the new fonts if you are not an Ubuntu Member.

Canonical’s Jerone Young Talks About Ubuntu On ARM Devices [Video]

After joining Linaro, Canonical has been actively trying to make running Ubuntu in ARM devices a better experience.

In this video, Jerone Young, Partner Engineer at Canonical talks about the challenges they are facing at Canonical in making Ubuntu powered ARM laptops and desktops a reality. He also talks about the challenges in realizing a full desktop experience on ARM Powered devices, including full and fast web browsing and full access to most of the most useful Ubuntu applications.

Here is the video:


Shuttleworth Says That Canonical is Not Developing Ubuntu For Tablets

A couple of weeks ago, Canonical’s Vice President of OEM, Chris Kenyon was quoted as saying that a light-weight touch friendly version of Ubuntu will be available in tablets by the first quarter next year. This created a lot of excitement  among the Ubuntu community.

However, Ubuntu’s Benevolent Dictator For Life, Mark Shuttleworth has denied that they are developing Ubuntu for tablets. He said that Chris Kenyon was misunderstood. He also said that Canonical’s main focus for Ubuntu remains on the desktop, netbooks and servers.

Canonical is indeed working with OEM to bring Ubuntu in various forms to the people. They are developing an instant-on version of Ubuntu called Ubuntu Light for OEMs which will be installed installed alongside another OS. Some OEMs also ship Netbooks with Ubuntu. However because of the touch intensive usage pattern of tablets, a different kind of UI is required for tablets.

I, for one, am disappointed with this news. What about you?


Canonical Joins The Open Invention Network

The OIN has just announced a new Association Program and Canonical is its first member under this program.

The  Open Invention Network (OIN) is a  company that acquires  patents and licenses them  royalty free to entities which, in turn, agree not to assert their own patents against  Linux or Linux-related applications.

Now that Canonical is an OIN member, it will help and support the group in resolving patent disputes. Canonical sheds some more light on this job saying,

By becoming an OIN Associate Member, we are supporting the broad OIN mission and its commitment to enable and protect Linux’s advancement.

Keith Bergelt,  who is also the CEO of the organization leads it and is an expert in FOSS. He is a specialist in patents and licensing. His activities have saved Linux from the bindings of harsh Microsoft anti-Linux patents over the past few years.

Both OIN and Canonical are highlighting the “Freedom of Action” they wish to achieve through this association. With this freedom, they wish to unite companies, individuals and groups who are committed to improving Linux.

Canonical is one of the most powerful associates any open source network can have and this association can turn up favorably for the Open Source community, Linux in particular.


(Read more about the OIN here)

Whats Up With Canonical Licensing H.264?

Recently there was a lot of speculation on why Ubuntu went out of its way to license H.264 and discarded Theora in the process. This made Canonical the only company dealing in Linux to license H.264. It was highly expected of Ubuntu to license Theora though this licensing of H.264 comes as another blow to the already losing out Theora codec.

There were further talks on this matter and Canonical’s Chris Kenyon talked to the H-Online saying,

The good news is that there are other ways of enjoying video content and we strongly believe in the work to establish open source codecs. We offer strong support for Ogg Vorbis in our standard images.

This means that Theora still rules regular distros while H.264 is used in OEMs only. He has strictly assured here that the matter is of importance only in case the device comes pre-installed with Ubuntu. Thus, it is valid only for OEM installs and not for other regular versions. Further, the vendor also has options to exclude the H.264 codec from its offering.

Canonical simplifies this by saying,

Like Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat, Fluendo, RealPlayer, DVD players and other proprietary software, we have a direct re-distribution agreement for H.264.

Canonical Will Provide Strong ISV Open Source Ecosystem Support For Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx is just a few hours away and Canonical has thrown in another strong reason to use Ubuntu. Canonical has revealed its plans of software vendor support for this release of Ubuntu. Ubuntu 10.04 is an LTS (Long Term Support) release which is supported for a long period after release. This usually ranges from three to five years. This LTS will be a driving factor behind application development for Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx.

Jane Silber, the CEO of Canonical said,

A strong and varied ISV ecosystem is critical for Ubuntu to thrive and grow both on user’s desktops and in the world’s datacentres. We expected Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to be popular with existing and prospective software partners, but response is fantastic. Users considering switching to Ubuntu or upgrading to 10.04 LTS will be encouraged by this industry support and reassured that they can use many of their favourite applications on what we are sure will become their favourite operating system

Marten Mickos CEO, Eucalyptus remarked saying that  Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud is seeing considerable acceptance in the industry. Dell has already announced its wish to support the Server version of Ubuntu 10.o4. Many others like IBM, VMware and Adobe are expected to follow suite.

You can see a list of applications and testimonials from the industry at this page Canonical has put up.

Microsoft Interested In Buying Canonical

According to a leaked company memo, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is reportedly interested in buying Canonical, the company behind the popular Linux Distro Ubuntu.

Canonical is responsible for bringing bringing Linux to the masses with its distro Ubuntu, whose main focus is on improved usability and stability. Since its introduction in 2004, Ubuntu has gone on to become the most popular Linux distro and has been increasing its user-base at the expense of Micosoft’s Windows Operating System.

According to a leaked memo, Microsoft considers Linux as the main competitor to its flag-ship product, Windows, and is concerned by the number of people who are turning away from Windows to Linux. Microsoft thinks that this is because of Ubuntu and wants to end it by acquiring Canonical. Here is the screenshot of the memo that we recieved:

Neither Microsoft nor Canonical has not made any official statement regarding this yet. But one thing that is for sure is that this is the Open-Source community’s worst nightmare and they will be furious.

Happy April Fools Day Folks!