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Mark Shuttleworth Talks Dell, Hardware, Ubuntu 7.10 & More
Phoronix: Many people believe the success of Ubuntu is dependent upon your technical and financial wealth. Do you believe Ubuntu would be where it is at today if it were not for your fame and fortune?
Mark: That's an interesting question. We definitely benefited in the early days from the fact that I have been quite high profile but increasingly I think Ubuntu stands on its own two feet. I am asked less and less about space in interviews and more about real things that have come up organically within the Ubuntu community and within the developer base. I certainly think that being high profile helped to get the project started, there's no doubt about that, but increasingly I believe that Ubuntu has established its own credibility as a project in its own right. That's full credit not to me but to the whole community. If you read Planet Ubuntu or participate in some of the mailing lists you know that there is something special about that community, they have really earned that reputation.
Phoronix: With a majority of retail games currently using Microsoft's DirectX, the reason why many Windows users do not use Linux is simply due to the lack of available games, etc. Do you see more game studios adopting OpenGL or how do you see Linux gaming evolve in the coming years?
Mark: You've hit on a really important point there. Many of the young and adventurous types who would really like to run Linux and would quickly become familiar with it are also the heavy gamers. And so that's a reason for them not to make the move entirely but to keep Windows around to play games. I would very much like to see that changed and I would like to see gaming on Linux become of a more serious thing. It's something where we aren't devoting a tremendous amount of resources.
Phoronix: Dell had recently announced that they would begin shipping select computers with Ubuntu, but have any other tier-one manufacturers approached Canonical about getting Ubuntu as a stock option on their systems?
Mark: I wouldn't comment...
Phoronix: The GNOME project has an ambitious goal to achieve 10% of the global desktop market by the year 2010. Where do you see Ubuntu and the Linux desktop in general evolving in the next three years and do you feel that this goal is realistic?
Mark: That's again a really interesting question. I think in some parts of the world they will exceed that and in other parts of the world they won't exceed that so it's very much going to be a question of geography. At Ubuntu we have a really good relation with both the GNOME and KDE project. If anything, we see ourselves as a way for them to get to a wider audience and try to make it easy for them to collaborate with us and to collaborate with each other and Ubuntu being a common touch point as they both have an interest in getting the most out of Ubuntu. I think the answer is no in total, but certainly by 2010 I expect that in some countries GNOME will achieve its 10% goal.
Phoronix: Similarly, what do you see as the path for mainstream Linux desktop maturity? Is it grass-roots growth like the server space, or OEMs pushing it forward?
Mark: The desktop space is quite different from the server. Linux has certainly established its credibility in servers and no serious vendor goes to market without thinking carefully about the Linux story. On the desktop we really haven't seen that. Dell's steps are initial small steps in that direction, but it's a tentative step based upon a huge amount of public support. I would say that if the Linux community wants to be taken seriously by hardware vendors, printer vendors, camera vendors, and by video display card vendors then they need to vote with their wallet. That is the single thing that has the biggest impact on Linux is the sense for vendors that there is a serious market there. One of the things that frustrate me a little is those who go out, spend extra on a high-end Windows system, then take Windows off, and install Linux on it because they want that specific kind of system. We need to find a way for them to say I am buying that system so I can run Linux on it and hopefully with Dell taking this step people will be able to express their preference for Linux by actually buying those machines.