Monday, May 30, 2011

Mark Shuttleworth's Column in Linux User #100

In the latest issue of the British magazine Linux User, the editors hand over their regular column on Ubuntu to Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the Ubuntu project. Shuttleworth uses the column to explain the thinking behind the new Unity interface in Ubuntu 11.04. This little section caught my eye:

Touch and games are our inspiration. When we set about designing Unity, we drew inspiration from the world of consumer electronics. We wanted to produce something that felt more lightweight and easy to use than a traditional PC interface. We also wanted to take advantage of the incredible graphics technology that is found in every modern PC.
We studied game system interfaces, like the PlayStation and Xbox. We studied mobile products like the iPhone and looked for ways we could embrace ideas from those environments in the desktop. In particular, we took the view that touch-centric interfaces would come to the PC, and we made sure that key pieces of Unity are touch-friendly.

I had two reactions to these statements:

  1. Does anybody think Unity is lightweight? In my experience, Unity, being based on GNOME, has been about as unwieldy as GNOME. 
  2. Can an OS designed for tablets and mobile phones still be a good fit for traditional computers? If Unity trims its bloat and becomes a great OS for netbooks, tablets, and smartphones, will users of desktops and traditional laptops still be able to tolerate it? Can one OS really work on the variety of electronic devices available to the public? Or does Shuttleworth expect traditional computers to disappear entirely?

Linux User's Ubuntu Column #100, by Mark Shuttleworth

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