updated 12:10 pm EDT, Wed July 23, 2008
Ubuntu Head Asks Mac Rival
Canonical head and chief architect of Ubuntu Linux Mark Shuttleworth late Tuesday told developers at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention that Linux should go "beyond the Mac" in terms of its software experience. While not specific, he notes that the open source operating system should be at least as "crisp and clean" as Mac OS X while still offering the community benefits that come with fully opened code.
Developing such a consistent experience may be difficult, according to Joint Astronomy Center engineer Brad Cavanagh. The collaborative nature of free, open source software often means a clash of ideas, preventing the unified concepts that often guide Mac OS X and other commercial operating systems.
"So many people have so many different opinions," he says. "That's not to say you can't get good things out of open source. Obviously, you can but it's going to be tough."
Shuttleworth notes, however, that free software development for Linux and apps could be helped by insisting on a regular release schedule, which not only ensures that development doesn't slip but potentially sparks developers to achieve more than when there's no fixed deadline. Mozilla often pushes its team to complete updates of the Firefox web browser within a certain timeframe, preventing the multi-year delays for their original Mozilla 1.0 browser.
The Ubuntu co-creator also notes that Linux developers also have to learn to accept Windows compatibility and support these outside standards even if they put their hope in Linux.
Shuttleworth does believe that Linux is already "equally relevant" versus Apple and others for mobile devices. Most Linux-based phones often have streamlined interfaces that overcome the complexity of the platform, while Google's upcoming Android is also Linux-based and promises many iPhone-like features while still keeping much more open development.