Ubuntu: Has it lost it?

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Ubuntu: Has it lost it?

Postby Oh well! » Tue May 21, 2013 10:26 pm

I read the article about whether Ubuntu has lost it (LXF 172), then the article about Tizen, and thought this:

On the one hand, Unity must have seemed like a brainwave: if users learn how to use it on one device, e.g. their phone, then they might well stick with the familiar when they buy a tablet or TV. After all, the learning curve almost plateaus after learning how to use Unity on one device. Having developed the interface, what's then needed is a hardware manufacturer to make use of it. And that's a gamble. Will they or won't they?

However, is it really a very good gamble? How many manufacturers make phones, TVs and tablets. Not many. Sony, Samsung, LG . . . But many just make one or two of this trio. Nokia: phones; Panasonic: TVs . . . So, either it's a gamble on a 'super-manufacturer' or multiple manufacturers are needed, which makes it even more of a gamble.

Then I read the article on Tizen. Samsung wants an alternative to Android so the company is not at the mercy of Google to the extent it is now. Surely that should ring alarm bells at Canonical. Why would any manufacturer want to be at the mercy of Canonical to that or, even, a greater extent? They would not.

Perhaps the Ubuntu code is more free than the Android code, though. But, then, what's to stop a manufacturer taking the Ubuntu code, adapting it a bit, and avoiding being beholden to Ubuntu? Or just taking Debian and suitably adapting it? If Linux Mint can do both on a shoestring (relatively), Samsung or Sony could certainly do it.

So has Ubuntu lost it? That's a bit strong. Has it miscalculated? Yes, I think it has.
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Postby Dutch_Master » Tue May 21, 2013 10:56 pm

Hats off for Canonical for getting where it is now in that amount of time. But this was an investment for Mr Shuttleworth, now the time has come to reek in the harvest. That harvest is in the cloud...

The entrepreneur at the helm of Canonical perhaps hopes to become the next Bill Gates, and so far he's on track. More over, there's a real possibility he'll succeed, at least partially, as he's seen that M$ has missed the boat by declaring Linux a cancer while their own products were lagging behind and senior management becoming complacent and bureaucratic. He didn't invent "the cloud" but as a businessman, he smelled an opportunity when it arose and jumped on it like the proverbial cat and the bacon ;)

Have they lost it? Far from it, me thinks. Miscalculated? No, just a setback. Will they change course? If they do, only in the margins...

Mind, I'm not at all in favour of the changes Canonical has made, so no more Ubuntu for me! (not that I used it before, btw :P)
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Wed May 22, 2013 5:57 am

Just a hint.
I'm sitting in bed in a holiday apartment in France, typing this on an Android tablet.
My Android phone is charging on the bedside table.
In the lounge, my Android TV stick is plugged into the HDMI port of the TV.
There are 4 people here, all have Android phones, and my wife has an Android tablet as well. A raspberry Pi is downloading stuff from the UK. There are also 2 Ubuntu netbooks.
Has Canonical lost it?
No, I don't think so, but they might have a struggle to catch up.
The Ubuntu phone project has a different bias to Android.
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Postby Oh well! » Wed May 22, 2013 10:17 pm

Posed as a dilemma, Ubuntu's problem is this: If hardware manufacturers are getting cheesed off with the control possessed by operating system vendors by virtue of their closed source software, then Ubuntu is no better on this front than the others if it goes down the closed source route; and if it goes down the open source route, there is little to stop hardware manufacturers using the code without the paying Canonical for the privilege. There are low barriers to entry for competitors.

Of course, the weakness of this point of view is in the premiss, i.e. that hardware manufacturers are cheesed off with the market power held by operating system vendors. If they're not, though, what's Ubuntu's advantage over Android? Moreover, why would any of them pioneer Unity, which hasn't even proved popular with the Linux community?
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Ubuntu has not lost it.

Postby Witchbutter » Fri May 31, 2013 5:50 pm

To suggest that Unity or Mir as a design decision has caused Ubuntu to "lose it" is ignorant of the desktop space as a whole. I believe Ubuntu has chosen Unity in attempt to gain much broader adoption than linux has ever seen in desktops, tablets and phone platform. Several forward thinking moves by Canonical reveal this motive: Steam on linux directly supports Ubuntu, the hardware partnership with Dell, Juju integrated with EC2, and the first real enterprise grade desktop provisioning system in Landscape. These are all design decisions not intended to compete with other linux distributions, but instead aiming to take more users away from Microsoft. Canonical is riding the heels of Android which has had huge success in a much less technically capable user base. To be more specific, i mean appeal from users who can not appreciate the freedom and diversity linux brings, the people that want operating system decisions made for them, the people that are not paying attention to the man behind the curtain and don't want to. I don't think the tough decisions by Canonical could be made without alienating a few people, but it is what is required to reach their larger vision.

The real issue Unity intends to overcome is the ease of use problem that the linux desktop has always had. Long time users of linux desktop like me already know that the linux desktop is great, but new users are easily frustrated by a week or more of configuration after install to get their PCs to behave in terms of graphics. Also, users now expect a much snappier interface similar to their phones or even Windows 8, and Unity as presented in Ubuntu 13.04 has the increased responsiveness people are looking for. As well, X is a horror to work with if you have a real problem and are a brand new linux user. Mir aims to overcome the problem by thinking outside the paradigms of the X server. That being said, without hardware vendor accelerated drivers, which do not exist at this time, Mir will never be able to achieve real relevance. I think Canonical is banking on them changing their minds in the long term.

Personally, having been a linux user since 1999, I have been ecstatic to hear of all of Ubuntu's announcements in 2012 & 2013, so much so that i intend to get an Ubuntu phone as soon as it is officially released, and I would say reviewing the phone prior to 1.0 is hasty. However I will also say, even with the snappy Unity desktop in 13.04, i have never been able get used to working a whole day in Ubuntu. After recently trying out Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Kubuntu , Mint 14 and 13.04, I eventually get frustrated and go back to my favorite distro: Fedora with Cinnamon. Fedora is consistently cutting edge and more stable for my own workflow, and i look forward to the inclusion of a Juju rpm repo.
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Re: Ubuntu has not lost it.

Postby Ram » Fri May 31, 2013 6:01 pm

Witchbutter wrote:Personally, having been a linux user since 1999, I have been ecstatic to hear of all of Ubuntu's announcements in 2012 & 2013, so much so that i intend to get an Ubuntu phone as soon as it is officially released, and I would say reviewing the phone prior to 1.0 is hasty. However I will also say, even with the snappy Unity desktop in 13.04, i have never been able get used to working a whole day in Ubuntu. After recently trying out Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Kubuntu , Mint 14 and 13.04, I eventually get frustrated and go back to my favorite distro: Fedora with Cinnamon. Fedora is consistently cutting edge and more stable for my own workflow, and i look forward to the inclusion of a Juju rpm repo.


Personally I think they have, I don't like Unity one bit on my desktop. Using LXDE for now but thinking of going back to OpenSUSE has I have on my laptop.

Now, the phone on the other I waiting for, where I think Unity will be a good choice.

lubuntu LXDE 13.10 running on AMD Phenom II*4; ASUS Crosshair III Formula MB; 4 GB Ram.....
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Fri May 31, 2013 6:21 pm

I really like Unity, been using it for 12 months or so now. on 12.04 and then 12.10.
Unfortunately, it recently proved unstable after a driver update, and I am on fallback at the moment, but I really miss it.
After my next writing deadline, I am planning to move to 13.04
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Postby guy » Sat Jun 01, 2013 11:44 am

What I don't understand is, given Canonical's big push to monetise Ubuntu by pushing hard in corporate server space, why introduce a touchy-feely UI tailored for consumer toys? I mean, sure the average sysadmin still prides themselves on opening a shell and bashing away (sic), but the desktop UI gets pretty well used for things like corporate comms, timesheets and so forth and Unity is just not the tool for the job.

Have Canonical made the same mistake as Microsoft, aiming to provide a common UI for both desktop and pocket? Apple didn't make that mistake, Google didn't and everybody else trying to do Linux for Mobile is finding the same thing.
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Postby Rhakios » Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:34 pm

Perhaps they want to have both the gritty, unglamorous back-end and the shiny, sexy front-end. Or cloud servers and portable clients (tablets, smartphones), as seems to be the current fashion.
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Postby guy » Sat Jun 01, 2013 6:33 pm

Rhakios wrote:Perhaps they want to have both the gritty, unglamorous back-end and the shiny, sexy front-end. Or cloud servers and portable clients (tablets, smartphones), as seems to be the current fashion.

You mean Canonical don't make you fill in a timesheet? I want to work there!!!
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:33 am

guy wrote:What I don't understand is, given Canonical's big push to monetise Ubuntu by pushing hard in corporate server space, why introduce a touchy-feely UI tailored for consumer toys? I mean, sure the average sysadmin still prides themselves on opening a shell and bashing away (sic), but the desktop UI gets pretty well used for things like corporate comms, timesheets and so forth and Unity is just not the tool for the job.

Have Canonical made the same mistake as Microsoft, aiming to provide a common UI for both desktop and pocket? Apple didn't make that mistake, Google didn't and everybody else trying to do Linux for Mobile is finding the same thing.


Actually, Unity is nowhere near as bad for business use as people seem to think.
It is far more usable than metro, for example, (not that that is difficult).

I have used it for several months, and we did have 2 users in my office happily using it as well, until a recent software decision forced a move to windows.
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Re: Ubuntu has not lost it.

Postby Nuke » Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:08 pm

Witchbutter wrote:To suggest that Unity or Mir as a design decision has caused Ubuntu to "lose it" is ignorant of the desktop space as a whole. I believe Ubuntu has chosen Unity in attempt to gain much broader adoption than linux has ever seen in desktops, tablets and phone platform

Fine, I don't have a problem with their using Unity for tablets and phones, where the growing market is meant to be. The problem (as with Win 8 ) is with forcing the thing on the desktop too.

Witchbutter wrote:Several forward thinking moves by Canonical reveal this motive: Steam on linux directly supports Ubuntu, ... These are all design decisions not intended to compete with other linux distributions, but .. to take more users away from Microsoft.

"Forward thinking move" is a pompous and BS way of describing what is almost certainly, and more prosaically, the result of a behind-the-scenes deal between Canonical and Steam. There is nothing in Unity which makes it a uniquely appropriate platform for Steam. There are already hacks for Steam on other GUIs.

And it is a design decision that does make Unity compete with other distros, because it willl tend to draw not only Windows users but also users of other Linux distros - many Linux users also like to game you know.

Witchbutter wrote:The real issue Unity intends to overcome is the ease of use problem that the linux desktop has always had. Long time users of linux desktop like me already know that the linux desktop is great, but new users are easily frustrated by a week or more of configuration after install to get their PCs to behave in terms of graphics.

Er, hang on, you changed the subject in mid-stream there. You started talking about "ease of use" but then changed to issues with the ease of installation. It has been said many times before, but Joe Sixpack would also have serious problems installing Windows if it were not pre-installed. If Canonical can strike deals with PC makers to pre-install Linux, maybe with appropriate publicity, then fine, THAT is the answer to the installation problem (and many other problems, like FUD, too). But that solution is nothing to do with Unity as such - it could be done with Gnome, KDE, Mate, Cinammon or most other GUIs for that matter.

Witchbutter wrote:Also, users now expect a much snappier interface similar to their phones or even Windows 8

Snappy interface? Wow, I cannot recall when I last worried about how "snappy" my PC is. My PCs have been snappy for about the last ten years, despite my never having have a cutting-edge model. Internet response is another matter, nothing to do with my PC. Funny you mention Windows 8, people hate it - not just in the Linux press. Only yesterday I was browsing a Windows-8-Hate article in a mainstream PC mag in W H Smiths. And the sort of people who "expect" their PC interface to look like their phone interface are the sort of people who have already given up their PC, or will be doing so in the very near future.

Witchbutter wrote:As well, X is a horror to work with if you have a real problem and are a brand new linux user. Mir aims to overcome the problem by thinking outside the paradigms of the X server.

So does Wayland, which was to be X's general replacement. Looks from where I am sitting like Canonical are going a different way in order to create non-interchangeablity of apps, and hence a walled garden.
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