Interview: Ted Gould on Ubuntu Unity

linuxdlsazine's Senior Software Editor Brockmeier, talks with Ted Gould of Canonical about the upcoming release of Ubuntu Unity. In this interview Ted touches on Unity's UI design decisions, hardware drivers and bundled software.

Comments on "Interview: Ted Gould on Ubuntu Unity"


Um, maybe I’m nuts or something, but I’m preeetttty sure the reason Ubuntu or any other distro hasn’t moved from the “enthusiast” market to the “everybody” market is the fact that your average computer user has no idea that linux even exists. Many of my friends don’t even understand what an operating system IS, let alone that you have the option to choose a different one. A new interface isn’t gonna change that fact.


They’ve got a smart idea here – if your computer hardware/drivers cannot handle video acceleration required by Unity, Ubuntu will fall back to installing you with the classic Ubuntu desktop, plus a few of the Unity widgets.


Really, the problem with Unity is that it’s just turning Ubuntu more into Mac than Gnome did…the only thing really different is the dock on the left side, which they basically took from the netbook remix of Ubuntu.


Thank you for hosting the interview, but I do have two whines:
– Did you really need to embed the video in Flash?
– As he discussed certain elements of Unity (and other updates to the Distro), it might have been nice to cut in screen shots to we could better envision what he was talking about.


I don’t like the icon-driven desktop. I didn’t like it on my eeepc (original 701) and neither did many: it was an interface that was mocked and decried and routinely ‘jailbroken’ back to a more conventional desktop interface.

So why this rush to iconify everything? It’s the Apple Effect. But what works great on an iphone — or even ipad — is lousy on a desktop, or even netbook.

I am not a fan of this interface and, frankly, I despair that Jolicloud, Unity/UNBR and who knows how many others think this is the way of the future.


All of these comments are spot on. I have tried every netbook UI on this eeepc 900a (16GB SSD + 16GB SD card) and none seemed more than a toy [read "icons"]hopelessly cluttering this small desktop. I like a scenic photo on my desktop and have found that Ubuntu 10.04 with its solid apps and drop down menus works best for me, the comforts of a full blown OS. Glad to know 11.04 can revert to Gnome, but at this point I’m inclined to stick with 10.04 LTS and see how things go with my desktop and 11.04 in a virtual install. Thanks Ubuntu for a desktop OS in a package under 40 ounces.


I just watched a video showing a test of Unity and I wasn’t impressed. To me it just looks like Windows 7 with the taskbar on sideways. I like Gnome because it is different than the status quo and in my eyes a lot sleeker. I am glad that Gnome will still be an option, but they will probably let it flounder in favor of Unity.
Here are the reasons I believe Ubuntu isn’t in the everybody market: *99% of computer users don’t even know what linux is
*Linux isn’t as well supported by hardware manufacturers and software developers
*I don’t know of any option for individual users to receive support from Canonical
*Windows comes on almost any box that the average joe will buy, and since Windows will do what they need they won’t switch


You can purchase Canonical Home Support.


Let’s see, what are Canonical’s problems.

They don’t have a canned Active Directory or Sharepoint competitor. It can be done, but they aren’t a one-click install.

Office is still the defacto standard. OpenOffice/LibreOffice is okay, but it’s not a 100% replacement for Office. Once again, no CMS integration like Office and Sharepoint.

Having a Visual Studio/MSDN type suite would go along way to helping people get started on programming for your platform.

Canonical has also done a bad job of advertising they offer support for Ubuntu. A little Get Help application, which asks if they want to buy support from Canonical or use free support would be great.

Really, Gnome was the least of Canonical’s problems.


Well, years ago, when our group transitioned from Sun workstations to PCs, I felt the same way. Still do to some extent. But the reality is for the average user, icons are a lot better than a command line. Eventually we’ll go to talking to our devices but that will require that they be able to know when they don’t understand something and query us back for clarification.


The other reason Linux hasn’t taken off is legacy Windows programs. Generally the desktop displays I’ve seen the last year or two are fine, but WINE still sucks as far as I can tell. WINE or similar functionality has to be transparent to the user for Dell and other mass PC providers to simply ship computers with Linux and users not care about it.


And lets not forget the lack of an Outlook replacement. This must be the #1 reason that Linux is not replacing Windows in the business arena .. and in the home. PCs made it into the home because they were used in the office. Use Linux in the office and you will see it at home.


Thunderbird can be used to replace outlook, and with its extensions it can handle all the “to do” lists and calendar appointments you can throw at it. Honestly, there is no reason to use office other than familiarity and fear of something new.


What!? No Demo?!


Guess I am now officially an old fogey: The endless repackaging of everything with more frills, fluff, & glitz leaves me less & less excited but feeling more curmudgeonly all the time. Change is worth having when it provides a measurably improved substance not merely a new version of amusement for the A.D.D. tendencies we suffer from. I guess I must have change fatigue. Change merely for change’s sake is dumb. For a genuine purpose, GREAT! So far, I remain unimpressed with Unity. If Canonical wants to spread the platform they ought to focus upon refining (create) a real centralized hardware management interface & make audio harder to break but easier to install. And maybe improve dependency checking for new application installs. Getting tired of apps which hide from me after installation. Don’t have time to fix the ones which refuse to play or show themselves- even when installed from Synaptic.


In practice I agree. Yet some argue with validity (& I concede) that OO/Libre lack a Publisher equivalent, can never seem to catch up with the planned obsolescence of M$ doc types, and Presentations falls short of Power Point. Given the price difference I don’t care, I support Open Source apps all the way. But my daughter probably did very well to buy the FULL Office suite under academic pricing. If M$ would sell to everyone at that price OO & Libre would dead end. Of course hell would freeze over if M$ quit grubbing money the way they do; reasonable pricing for Office is not likely to ever happen.


Lacy is absolutely correct with the minor exceptions I note below her comment. Outlook is no impediment at all unless you’re afraid to try to administer Thunderbird & Lightning in an enterprise network environment. Honestly, the primary and really only impediment to Linux in the workplace is how deep the well worn ruts of status quo run. System administrators fear major changes and these days in many sectors lack resources to bring even a virtualized parallel system up for development and deployment. And you cannot just throw the switch & hope for the best with a change this big unless you’ve done it before. So the old familiar misery continues to be tolerated because it is more familiar than something never tried before.


From what I have seen. Unity looks very bad. I hope three is a switch back to Gnome. It seriously looks like $#@#@$@$. Ubuntu 11.04 might be my last. Its like Ubuntu can’t seam to lock things down, changes are not positive its seriously half-ass. I wil just go back to Gnome. Its tried and true,why make user relearn all over again. You dropped the remix for a reason it was crap. Why make the user deal with your mistake. Unity will not sell. Crap is still crap no matter how you paint it.


And regardless of alternatives available for Outlook and other office products, no in-roads by Linux based systems can be made into the business environment when corporate IT departments will not budge from MS Windows platforms. Touting TCO as the reason for staying with MS, they ignore the costs associated with MS. For example, the company I work for is still running XP. It will transition to Windows 7 this year. So for several years the IT department here has maintained it’s version of XP to install on PC’s despite XP being bypassed years ago. So I use my PC for Outlook. My real work is on a Linux workstation.


As long as I can select Gnome as the default session, it is not a problem to me. I heard that, for 11.04, we can select it even at the beginning of installation. I use netbook edition 10.04 LTS with Gnome. Though my laptop can handle Unity, I prefer lighter and simple UI. Thank you Gnome developers. I hope I can use your Gnome 3 later.


“Having Visual Studio/MSDN type suite”…
While not claiming to be exactly the same thing, I am constantly amazed that Gambas has not caught on better. This really is an easy, good program to allow people start programming…

Here it is seven months later and now Ubuntu 11.10 has hit, with its forced Unity desktop. Many people regret the upgrade because of Unity. Support lines are full of “how do I go back to an older Ubuntu?” Ubuntu has plummeted in popularity. Support groups are forming for the damaged. Mint has had a huge surge in popularity, as well as the other Linuxes. Moderators in the Ubuntu forums are pulling out their hair. Ubuntu really screwed the pooch with Unity and destroyed a lot of trust. Kind of like Micro$oft did with Vista. I bet Apple is happy … and Mint.

Linux Sys Admin jobs for almost the entire last 8 years. Mostly, thses have beeen as thin on the ground as thin ice, and now there is absolutely nothing. So yes, I too am having a VERY tough time. boxeducation

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