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[Discuss] The next Linux desktop: Ubuntu 12.04

Mark Shuttleworth seems to be pretty proud of 12.04, saying:

  For the first time with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, real desktop user experience
  innovation is available on a full production-ready
  enterprise-certified free software platform, free of charge, well
  before it shows up in Windows or MacOS. It's not 'job done' by any
  means, but it's a milestone.

  Achieving that milestone has tested the courage and commitment of the
  Ubuntu community - we had to move from being followers and
  integrators, to being designers and shapers of the platform, together
  with upstreams who are excited to be part of that shift and passionate
  about bringing goodness to a wide audience.

  It's right for us to design experiences and help upstreams get those
  experiences to be amazing, because we are closest to the user; we are
  the last mile, the last to touch the code, and the first to get the
  bug report or feedback from most users.

  Thank you, to those who stood by Ubuntu, Canonical and me as we set
  out on this adventure. This was a big change, and in the face of
  change, many wilt, many panic, and some simply find that their
  interests lie elsewhere. That's OK, but it brings home to me the
  wonderful fellowship that we have amongst those who share our values
  and interests - their affiliation, advocacy and support is based on
  something much deeper than a fad or an individualistic need, it's
  based on a desire to see all of this intellectual wikipedia-for-code
  value unleashed to support humanity at large, from developers to data
  centre devops to web designers to golden-years-ganderers, serving
  equally the poorest and the bankers who refuse to serve them, because
  that's what free software and open content and open access and level
  playing fields are all about.

So reading between the lines he seems to be saying that it is OK if, as
a developer or power user, your needs are no longer met by Ubuntu,
because we should all be working for the greater good - creating a
desktop to serve "humanity at large."

Although he then throws in...

  Engineers are human beings too!

  We set out to refine the experience for people who use the desktop
  professionally, and at the same time, make it easier for the
  first-time user. That's a very hard challenge. ... When we measure
  Ubuntu today, based on how long it takes heavy users to do things, and
  a first-timer to get (a different set of) things done, 12.04 LTS blows
  10.04 LTS right out of the water and compares favourably with both
  MacOS and Windows 7. Unity today is better for both hard-core
  developers and first-time users than 10.04 LTS was. Hugely better.

He then goes through a set of bullet points listing how 12.04 is better
for developers, such as "Far less chrome in the shell than any other
desktop; it gets out of your way."

I can't say I'm convinced. By their own admission Unity is designed for
small, single screens and use cases where you have one maximized
application running at a time. (Ditto for Windows 8.) Quite opposite
from what a power user needs.

And he continues...

  In this last round we have focused testing on more advanced users and
  use cases, with user journeys that include many terminal windows, and
  there is a measurable step up in the effectiveness of Unity in those
  cases. Still rough edges to be sure, even in this 12.04 release...

  We are all developers, and we all use it all the time, so this is in
  our interests too.
  The hard core Linux engineers can use... anything, really. ... Linus
  and other kernel hackers are our audience too, of course, but they can
  help himself if things get stuck. We have to shoulder the
  responsibility for the other 99%. That's a really, really hard
  challenge - for engineers and artists alike. But we've made huge
  progress. And doing so brings much deeper meaning to the contributions
  of all the brilliant people that make free software, everywhere.

I have a feeling this blog entry will trigger some flames. :-)

(Of the 83 comments posted so far that I skimmed, very few are critical.)


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