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Ubuntu to fund Linux development
Sep. 15, 2008

Mark Shuttleworth is tap-dancing to work these days, he writes on his blog. Why? His Ubuntu Linux project has hired a team of "designers, user experience champions, and interaction design visionaries" tasked with the heady chore of making Linux the world's most usable operating system.

After acknowledging the significance of the challenge, Shuttleworth admitted that he does not yet have all the answers. But, he said Ubuntu's new "upstream" team -- which will work separately from its "platform" team, to avoid conflicts of interest -- would focus initially on participation in the X, OpenGL, GTK, Qt, GNOME, and KDE projects.

Furthermore, Ubuntu's participation in leading Linux interface software projects will involve the "heavy lifting" of real programming work, Shuttleworth said. The work will be hosted in BZR (Bazaar Version Control) branches maintained on Ubuntu's LaunchPad account. Shuttleworth observed, "If we just showed up with pictures and prototypes and asked people to shape their projects differently, I can't imagine that being well received!"

Shuttleworth acknowledged that historically, Ubuntu's work has been to integrate the work of upstream developers, and maintain security patches for it, with the aim of shepherding it into use by a large number of users. As by far the largest Linux distribution, used by 55.2 percent of all Linux users according to this year's Linux Foundation Survey, it has certainly succeeded with that goal.

Now, the other shoe is about to drop, Shuttleworth apparently believes. "Increasingly, Canonical is in a position to drive real change in the software that is part of Ubuntu," he wrote. To learn more, read the complete blog post, here.

Previously, in a keynote at this summer's OSCON conference in Portland, Shuttleworth reportedly said he thought Linux could work as well as Mac OS, in terms of usability, within two years. And, last week, Shuttleworth announced the Jaunty Jackalope release (click for a wonderful photo depicting a fine specimen of the rare beast!), the codename for the 9.04 release to follow after the now somewhat delayed Intrepid Ibex (8.10) release.

-- Henry Kingman

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