The Debian-based Ubuntu Linux was unveiled today and a preview release is available for download. Ubuntu uses Gnome 2.8, kernel 188.8.131.52, OOo 1.1.2 and comes with a text-based, but dead-easy, installation procedure. Ubuntu has disabled the root user (sudo is used, same way as OSX does it) and it endorses the “less is more” philosophy. There are still bugs on the preview release, but the team welcomes feedback via their mailing list. Read more for an interview with team member Jeff Waugh (also of Debian and Gnome fame). Screenshots also included, and more are here to be found.1. What is the main scope of Ubuntu’s market? Business or home?
Jeff Waugh: Desktops, laptops and servers for business and home. Although a lot of the interesting stuff we’re doing relates to desktops and laptops, Ubuntu is a fully supported server distribution too.
2. How many people are participating so far to the project? How did the project started?
Jeff Waugh: Canonical has 34 employees around the world, covering almost every timezone. We work just like an Open Source project internally. During the last six months, it has just been us working on the first release – but I can see a lot of subscription requests coming through for our developer list already!
The project was started by Mark Shuttleworth. Working with the Open Source community is a natural extension of his existing educational and technology philanthropy… and Ubuntu is a massive contribution on top of that!
3. What are its main differences from Debian? Why would someone pick Ubuntu over Debian or any another distro?
Jeff Waugh: At its core, Ubuntu *is* Debian. Our six-monthly releases are based on Debian’s “sid” development branch, with lots of bugfixing and integration work (which goes back to Debian), and some special additions such as the very latest GNOME releases. Ubuntu 4.10, which we call the “Warty Warthog” shipped GNOME 2.8 in our Preview release last night. 🙂 We provide 18 months of high-impact, dataloss and security support with every release.
4. There is no KDE on the main CD. While sticking to a single environment is a good practice for consistency and usability, the reality is that Gnome does not have a mature GTK+ 2.x CD burning application. Even Gnoppix had to include an extra 30 MBs of packages just for the needed KDE libs to be able to run K3B. Would you consider this for Ubuntu in order to provide a more functional desktop by default?
Jeff Waugh: We felt that the CD and DVD burning facilities in GNOME satisfied most user requirements, but would be keen to support beefier CD/DVD authoring tools as they come available. Although we’re concentrating on GNOME with Ubuntu, stay tuned for some interesting KDE stuff on the way. 🙂
5. Do you have plans populating the “restricted” software with more software? Is this up to the distro makers or individual packagers or third party contributors?
Jeff Waugh: “restricted” currently includes a number of drivers that we are happy to package, but are unable to support. We’d like Ubuntu to work on as muche hardware as possible, but we’d also like to be able to show hardware vendors how important it is to have Open Source drivers for our platform. So, we will add more things to restricted when necessary, but our main goal is to have a totally Open Source operating system.
6. Are there any plans to also support the SPARC architecture? How good is the support for PowerPC G5 these days?
Jeff Waugh: We actually have a few G5 Xserve machines for building our PowerPC packages, and had to write some kernel patches to get them to boot! That was pretty cool – maybe we were the first? I don’t know. 😉 ppc64 support is on the list of things we want to deliver for our next release, due in April 2005 (there’ll be a Preview again in March). We’re not planning to support SPARC at the moment… But I have a few machines here I could start building on! Anyone else? 😉
7.What is your opinion on Mono and a possibility on becoming part of Gnome’s core? (wink, wink 😉
Jeff Waugh: Heh, “no comment”. 😉
Well okay… Personally, I’m pretty excited about Mono, especially now that IronPython is available. Having a really great scripting language targeting the CLR is awesome. Obviously, there are a lot of things that need to be
thought through about Mono, particularly within the GNOME Project, but that will all happen in due time.
Hey – did you know that GNU Smalltalk now has GTK+ bindings? This is pretty sweet. The Free Software implementation of the language that inspired Java (and consequentially, .NET) is really rocketing along now. Check it out!