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Tuesday, 26 October 2010 08:54

GNOME gets a slap in the face from Ubuntu


The next version of Ubuntu, to be released in April 2011, will have a new interface which has been designed by Canonical, the company behind the GNU/Linux distribution.

An announcement to this effect was made at the ongoing Ubuntu Developers' Conference by Canonical owner Mark Shuttleworth.

The new interface, called Unity, represents Shuttleworth's thinking - that the slick Mac interface is the one thing which will bring new converts and increase the marketshare of Ubuntu. It has been used in the notebook specific distro, Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

GNOME was scheduled to bring out its new interface, the GNOME Shell, in March this year. However, it was forced to delay the release by a year.

It is unlikely that the delay has been instrumental in Shuttleworth's decision; if that was the case, then he would not have started the Unity project at all.

Canonical's initial decision to use GNOME as the default desktop was taken because of the rapid release cycle; GNOME releases every six months but whether this is needed or not is a matter of conjecture. It does, however, give the appearance that something is happening, akin to a man running on the same spot.

After the other major desktop available for GNU/Linux, KDE, underwent a dramatic transformation when moving from version 3 to 4, GNOME started looking very much like yesterday's man and had no choice but to adopt a new look.

The new look apparently has not impressed Shuttleworth who is a man on a mission - to make Canonical profitable. And it looks like he does not mind putting a few noses out of joint on the route to this objective.

Ubuntu is now six years old and it is a matter of conjecture as to how long Shuttleworth can continue to support an unprofitable organisation. He has deep pockets, true, but he is a businessman and a successful one at that.

While it may be true that he has started Ubuntu for reasons unrelated to profit - some say he was incensed by Microsoft's prices in his own country, South Africa, and started Ubuntu so the poor could have affordable access to computing - developers cannot live on love and fresh air.

The bid to balance the books will, no doubt, intensify in coming months.

Ubuntu's next release, 11.04, will be known as Natty Narwhal.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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