Phoronix: Will we see the open-source version of Sun's Java appear in Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon?
Mark: There's some constraints on what Sun is delivering and we will not put anything in main that isn't free software, so at this stage I cannot tell you what will be in the final release. It is my hopes though that OpenJDK will be part of main and will be used to build things that require Java like OpenOffice.
Phoronix: On your blog you recently expressed the current issues with the state of fonts in Linux. Some of the action items you had mentioned included a clean way of packaging fonts and cataloging fonts. Is this an area that you feel can be reasonably accomplished by Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon or do you feel that it's more of a long-term objective?
Mark: That's more of a long-term objective. We are trying to isolate these different areas of challenge and the really big issue is that we haven't come up with an effective community process to deal with fonts in the same way we deal with software. In software we've developed pretty good revision control tools, Bazaar is an incredible project, and I love what they are doing. We have all of these tools to manage collaboration to make free software better, but if you look at the font world it's quite different. Individuals, some brilliant and some creative, produce these fonts and we don't have a very efficient process for collaborating for the improvement of those fonts and incrementally better quality. So if you look at the font collections that are out there, they are just sort of scrappy. I think the biggest issue is that we don't have community processes around fonts in the same way that we have it around free software and increasingly content as well.
Phoronix: If there was a single point that you could express to new Linux users when deciding whether to use Ubuntu or one of the popular alternatives such as OpenSuSE or Fedora, what would it be?
Mark: I would ask them what the single most important thing is for them. I would characterize Ubuntu as being very good for people who want an easy experience initially but want to have a tremendous amount of choice. Debian is an extraordinary platform with an incredible variety of packages that are accessible, but it's a little daunting to new people. With Ubuntu they should really be able to get a fantastic install and a useful desktop very easily and a really amazing community of people who can help them and guide them through that process. There's also reasons to try some of the other distros along with some of the smaller ones for those that are very good at one thing or another.
Phoronix: It took 74 days for Fedora Core 6 to reach one million downloads. Do you have any numbers on how many downloads 7.04 Feisty Fawn has seen or perhaps any download statistics from past Ubuntu releases?
Mark: No, no I don't, but I would congratulate the Fedora guys.
Phoronix: There are various initiatives for creating hardware with open specifications and lobbying manufacturers to provide open-source drivers and provide the public with specifications to their hardware. Do you have any thoughts on such initiatives as Nouveau for open-source 3D NVIDIA drivers through reverse engineering?
Mark: I think that it's excellent and that's really what free software is all about. It would be better if they could work in a partnership with the actual hardware manufacturers. It's our goal to show the hardware manufacturers that all of this talent is really to help them and how to tap into it.