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Ubuntu founder predicts Linux dominance in devices

Mar 4, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Led by embedded consumer electronics device deployments, Linux is on “a trajectory to be the emerging platform of choice,” says Mark Shuttleworth in an interview. The Canonical founder discusses plans for a user-friendly version of the popular Ubuntu desktop OS just for mobile and embedded devices, among other topics.

Founder of the Ubuntu Project, South African-born Shuttleworth was recently re-elected as an individual representative to the LF board. In April 2002, he flew in space as a cosmonaut member of the crew of Soyuz mission TM34 to the International Space Station.

Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux distribution currently maintained and distributed by Canonical, where Shuttleworth is still said to be an active member of the Technical Board and Community Council. Canonical is working on a project called Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded (UME), which intends to create a version of Ubuntu designed for Intel-based “mobile Internet devices” (MIDs).

The following are some excerpts from the interview, which is part of LF's Open Voices series:

  • On ease of use — “Well, [the concept behind Ubuntu was] to position [Linux] as something that is easy to use and that's a philosophy that applies as much on the server as it does on the desktop, but it also applies to kind of the next generation of electronic devices which, I think, will largely be powered by Linux.”
  • On embedded Linux — “I think it's true that a huge number of Western technology adopters are going to be using Linux very soon and that is in the form of consumer electronics. It's already true for things like wireless access points. It's increasingly true for things like set-top boxes and I think the next wave is really about handheld devices. So, I think now that consumer electronics represents a very significant area of adoption for Linux and, interestingly, perhaps the place where the average consumer is first going to really touch Linux — although they may not think of it that way — will, in fact, be - you know, they'll be something that they physically touch every day.”
  • On mobile phones — “I think if you look at where phones are going and where consumer electronics are going, we're getting to the point where you can actually run a normal standard Linux platform, which doesn't require any special development skills, on hardware that costs sub-$200, and that's a very interesting tipping point.”
  • On opportunities and challenges — “So, a very large percentage of us will be touching Linux every day and so I think that represents some real opportunities; it also represents some real challenges because the Linux ecosystem is an ecosystem that changes incredibly quickly and so there's a bit of an impetus mismatch between the way consumer electronics and embedded folks tend to think and the way Linux tends to work. But, historically Linux has always confronted a challenge like that and adapted and found ways to become a very efficient platform for people who want to do stuff in that area whether it was the server or the laptop or consumer electronics.”

Both the podcast interview of Mark Shuttleworth and a transcript are available at the Open Voices website.

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