Ubuntu has arguably changed the landscape of desktop Linux since its initial release of Warty Warthog in 2004. Since then, its momentum has inspired the creation of numerous Ubuntu-based derivatives---Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu---just to name a few. These newcomers typically offer alternative desktop environments or sets of packages that differ from the standard Ubuntu selection. All target specific sub-audiences; be it KDE-folks, multimedia users, footprint minimalists, economic stimulus recipients, or Barrack Obama.
I am pleased to announce today a new, up-and-coming Ubuntu-based derivative aptly named WALLBUNTU. This new distribution boasts earth-shattering usability enhancements to the GUI along with minimal update requirements outside of the standard Ubuntu core. I secured an exclusive interview with WALLBUNTU founder and lead developer, Michael Bernabeo. Here's what he had to say:
Hi Mr. Bernabeo! Thank you for taking the time to discuss your new Linux distribution, WALLBUNTU, with us this morning. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself---how you became involved in Linux?
Michael: I started using Linux in the mid-90s. Back then, I didn't like how my Black & Decker toaster would consistently burn my bagels every morning, so I decided to do something about it. I considered a number of options, from buying a new toaster to suicide, but then I found Linux.
Here was this quaint, free system that could be adapted to just about everything...from computers to wristwatches. I immediately knew what to do: adapt the Linux Kernel to manage the executive timer-functioning of my Black & Decker Toaster.
Long story short, my toast from there on out was absolutely delicious; a golden brown from heel to toe. The toaster kernel project gradually died down, as network appliances failed to take steam... but my contributions and participation in the Linux zealotry Community was inspirational and could never be put to rest. That's where my most recent project WALLBUNTU comes into play.
Uhm. Right... so what exactly is WALLBUNTU, and what sets it apart from its Ubuntu parent?
Michael: Well, Ubuntu always touted a "Linux for Human Beings" motto. And they've executed pretty well in that regard. But there are some serious show-stopper usability bugs that have plagued every release of Ubuntu. You probably know what I'm talking about.
What? Like consistency between Qt and GTK+ applications? Popular multimedia codecs missing? Interoperability in Windows network environments?
Michael: Shit. Really? I hadn't noticed those issues, so they clearly don't exist. I'm talking real usability; the stuff that all users see at login... you know, the bane of all Ubuntu user experiences. That's right---the ugly brown/orange wallpaper. Creative and symbolic as each new version may be, they're still shit brown and a nightmare for usability.
A majority of users have been complaining about this since '04's Warty release. Here we are over a half-decade later, and the problem still exists. The Ubuntu developers are ignoring their users.
Blunders such as these have caused Linux to lose a fair amount of market share to Windows and Mac OSX. I mean--do the research; I haven't. First impressions are everything!
What? Wait---let me get this straight. You've based the release of an *entire* distribution solely on changing the default wallpaper? Surely there are other changes? A new color scheme; icons; or some cohesive theme perhaps? Tweaks to the toolkit or subsystems?
Michael: Whoa, whoa, whoa there. Changes need to be implemented gradually and with a great deal of usability research. Did you know that 95% of developer choices (and statistics) are made without referencing peer-reviewed research? I didn't, but I have the majority on my side to say so.
And there's a reason the Hare lost its race with the Tortoise---the hare used Ubuntu while the Tortoise used an alpha release of our distribution. It's just so much easier to get your work done... you know, when you get the shit (wallpaper) out of the way.
We sync to the standard 6-month Ubuntu release schedule. As such, you can expect some differences from release to release. For example, our Karmic Koala code base is experimenting with slight adjustment to the wallpaper hue. Titlebar color changes might be considered in a release around 2017.
Toolkit or subsystem alterations are beyond the scope of our release. Joe User doesn't care if his application uses GTK+ or Qt; and Jane User doesn't even know what a toolkit is. Wow... that was sexist; I can't believe you even said that!
I didn't say that --- YOU did! Well, what are you changing your wallpaper to anyway? Is it some type of interactive or time-based, auto-changing wallpaper? Couldn't the user just install a stock Ubuntu and easily change the wallpaper themselves?
Michael: No, our wallpaper isn't interactive or auto-changing. That's too complex, and we subscribe to the KISS philosophy; a philosophy that also tells us users shouldn't need to change their wallpapers. The wallpaper we chose was the San Diego Reflecting Pond.
San Diego, CA represents many things to many people. To some, it's a beacon of hope for (undocumented) workers; while others simply love the year-round sunshine and temperate climate. Everyone wants to live in San Diego, and if they don't...well, they probably hate America and/or are a terrorist.
Users don't want to be bothered with changing their wallpapers. I mean, if you know they'd need to do that, then why not ship with something beautiful to EVERYONE; something they don't have to change? San Diego Reflecting Pond is just that: timeless, universal beauty; a feat of achievement for all mankind (except citizens of Kazakhstan). Wow. You really are a racist bigot, aren't you?
OK, that's getting old. So I'm having some trouble understanding your rationale---let alone how can you call the single .JPG image contained in your Distro's repository a "code base" ...but, hey, Linux is about freedom to do what you will and as you want, right?
Michael: Very true.
Especially on April fools day?
Michael: What's that?
So there you have it, folks. Be on the lookout for WALLBUNTU---the cutting edge Linux distro that promises a superior wallpaper experience. WALLBUNTU is slated for release at the end of April 2009!
As our article earlier today, X.Org 7.5 Released. Wait, Nope!, was intended to be serious, Yale's Michael D. Bernabeo decided to contribute this bit of humor to Phoronix given today's date.