EuroOSCON: Mark Shuttleworth – The challenges facing Ubuntu

Has two talks he could give – collaboration, one of the great challenges facing free software community. Have some dam good tools, and produce world class software, but if we’re going to step up to the next level that our grannies can use, and be confident and comfortable using, we’ll have to amp up the collaboration.

Or… can look at some of the mountains that we have to climb. If we want to establish the norm, there are some key challenges.

Crowd voted for challenges.

Free Software Rules
The web rules – Apache is the no 1 web server; free software CMS; applications.

Reverse auction, start with no 13 and work to 1.

13 – Pretty is a feature.
Absolutely true. When I was able to show someone Firefox and it looked so sweet, less interested in the magical underpinnings, or free software, or extensions… than in the fact that it looked reallly good. Need to look at the real pioneers of classy sofware and see how they use their stuff. So Gnome focused very much on distilling the essence of software and making it good. See same meme in KDE environment, who make things look pretty.

To be de facto, needs to look and feel super-polished. Means we need to accept some contraints, and think about human-computer interaction.

12 – Consistent packaging.
When an industry’s in transition it’s a difficult time. People tell me the difficult thing about Linux is that they don’t know how to install software. No installer like InstallShield. Compounded by numbers of distros and packages.

Installing external software is an old way of thinking, happens in the old world.

Eg. Oracle used to take days to install, but OracleExpress takes minutes. Should basically wish for it and it’s there. We can do that in the free software world far better than in paid, because we can create the alliances between software.

But the packaging is the elephant in the room. Used to be an area of real innovation, but now we need convergance. Debian did well early on, so need to think about commonalities. Ideal: common packaging format that’s easy to work with so that developers have something build into their project. It should be trivial.

Indicator of success is when you see propriorty software guys adopting free software packaging, as Oracle has done.

11 – Simplified licencing.
Whatever you think, they started out with a framework for people to decide how they want to their licence. CC have said there’s a specturm, like it or not, and some people are happy with things others won’t like. This is what the universe of people out there looks like. Consistent licences.

In software, we have 150 – 200 licences. So running into some annoying incompatibilities. Need to understand what the CC guys have done well, and then adopt it.

Essence of success is not OS, but free software. Some people want to be somewhere else on the spectrum than me, but better to have a framework for that .

10 – Pervasive presence
Linux desktop can start to be a genuine thought leader, a genuine innovator, and presence is going to be there. So need a universal addressbook, knowing the channels through which you communicate, give an idea to the user an idea of who’s out there.

meshnet. bunch of laptops in this room, so how hard would it be to figure out who is around? There is work going on, but if we could treat this as a common infrastructure, so that we enable collaboration platforms.

9 – Pervasive support
Or the perception of. People say that ‘Its’ lovely but it’s not supported’, but there are numbers that you can call, but people don’t think it’s supported. So transform support into perception of pervasive support. Cafe guy has a guy who has a phone no. for people to ring. The knowledge is there, so hard to find grads with no Linux experience. Need to get people to tell others.

8 – Govaritye Ra Russki
Translation. If you look at how well software is translated, it’s easy to think we’re doing well. 347 languages who have more than 1 million speakers. So we have to invest in the translation effort. Build the platforms to support the needs of translators. Need to be translated upstream, so it’s easiest to distribute. A lot of effort in building bridges. Need to help the documentation guys, but the infrastructure is written for the Linux people, not the developers.

007 – Great gadgets
Interested in Troll Tech. The gadget world is going to be one fo the next major frontiers for free software adoption. Linux has gone from 0 – 20% market share in 2 years. Palm, Symbian, Windows, but Linux has grown massively in the last two years. But it’s fragmented, large numbers of small manufacturers, who need an OS at low/no cost. So not the sort of momentum.

As a community we could change that. Lot of value in having the same OS for your desktop, phone and other devices. Need a Gadgubuntu.

6 – Sensory immersion
In the audience there was one person who plays World of Warcraft (which was Jim Purbrick… from Second Life). Ten people in Second Life.

Joi Ito has a room in his house for playing WoW, with screens up and he can have as full an immersion as possible.

Need to extend sensory interaction with web and the real world. Make this a goal of free software, and be pioneering ahead of the proprietory world. Need to feed people information, and sensory immersion is going to be an aread where free software can pull ahead.

5 – Getting it together
Collaboration. Think of the things we do as free software developers. We track bugs, exchange translation, project management but it’s ad hoc and organic. If we want to stand up and compete with Redmond we need to elevate that to a higher level. When we do a release it’s backward looking, because we look at what’s lready been done. We can’t get data fro the future… so there’s lag, there’s innefficiency. So we don’t know that Firefox is going to release something at a future date.

I belive that it’s possible to release software predictively, and collaborate across software. Lots of layers in a stack, but don’t have good tools for coordinating work across layers. Would like to see a sort of Basecamp HQ. Build infrastructure to help plan and manage projects. So if OpenOffice release is going to slip, then we can work more efficiently.

Need to think about knock-on consequences when one product’s release date slips.

(4 – Seems to have got a bit intermingled with 5.)

3 – Extra Dimension
Vista. Everyone’s trying to learn how to invent new interface metaphors. Things haven’t changed for 15-20 years. We’re going to see a radical innovation soon. Office 12 is really interesting work, and we need to be equally brave and bold. Because of the shift to a world where windows are transparent and really part of a 3D infrastructure, we can have all sort of new opportunities.

iTunes 7 – that kind of innovation. Were not moving to a true 3D world. bue we do have 2.5D. Right kind of place to have large ammounts of innovation.

Look at FireFox’s extensions. LIke to see same thing in Free Software. Need to expose that extra 0.5D.

2. Granny’s new Camera
Impossible to predict what sort of things people want to connect to, and can’t priedict what is going to be invented. Kernal community really need to hear this message. Got the world’s fastest USB stack, but there are many didfferent stacks, so it’s hard to think of a consistent platform that the next generation USB drivers will work on.

The ability to ship software today and connect it to software in 3 years time is essential.

Start to create interfaces that are stable. Maleability, flexibility, etc. But also standard interfaces for device mfrs.

Can’t expect to have perfect interoperability, but can improve a lot.

1- Keeping it free
Microsoft is experimenting with shared-source, but that’s not enough to see the source. It’s about harnessing the source the way you want to. But as free software gets more pervasive and more powerful there’ll be more temptation to subvert it and send it in different diretions. GPLv3 is important, the discussions are are important; anti-patent groups are important, DRM also and tricky interpretations of licencing are the most dangerous things facing us.