Today I got to chat with Gerry Carr, a product manager for Canonical, the people behind Ubuntu, the very popular desktop version of Linux. Besides the merits of the Seattle and Portland areas, we talked about Ubuntu’s current status and its future in gaming, portable devices, and even desktop computers.
CrunchGear So first off, which version of Ubuntu are you using on your personal computer right now?
Gerry Carr I’m using the latest beta of the 804 LTS (Hardy Heron). It’s got a few known bugs still but overall it’s really good.
CrunchGear What third party apps are you using with it day to day that you like?
Gerry Carr The Firefox 3 beta 4 works really great with the 804. In fact, when it’s done, we’ll be the first major distributer to ship a distro with Firefox 3 bundled. That’s pretty exciting. It’ll also have our regular mail app. Adobe and IBM both have apps they’re working on specifically for 804, but they won’t be included. We’re looking to ship April 24 of this year.
CrunchGear That’ll be a good party, yes?
Gerry Carr Well, it’s rather hard, we have 105 people spread across 25 countries, so it’s difficult to get everyone together, but there will be launch parties all over the world. Every major city has them, some better than others.
CrunchGear I’ll have to try to find the one in Seattle. How are they?
Gerry Carr It’s many people sitting around a pub installing operating systems.
CrunchGear Party animals, for sure.
Gerry Carr Seattle’s pretty good for us. Portland, too, has a lot of users and developers.
CrunchGear Right now Linux is a full-fledged operating system. Do you think we’ll ever get to the point where Linux is more of a shell or gateway to Web-applications?
Gerry Carr well, we work pretty closely with Google to make the desktop Google apps better, but that is something that’s going to happen at some time to a large extent. However there’s a lot to be said about local processing and storage that is difficult to replicate on the Web. We are on the forefront of Web apps right now, but it’s still awhile before the OS is optimized for it.
CrunchGear The deal you guys got with Dell is pretty significant, and Microsoft isn’t happy about it. Are there any other major deals of this nature in the work?
Gerry Carr We’re of course looking to get a bunch of pre-installed partners, we’re working to make that happen, but that’s something for them to announce, not us. We’ll see it more with smaller vendors, some of which are shipping now.
CrunchGear Some people criticize Ubuntu for its short release cycle. Are there plans for longer or more regular cycles for future releases?
Gerry Carr The timing of that question is quite perfect. The April release of 804 is a LTS or Long Term Service release. Normally we release new versions every 18 months. 804 will have a three-year cycle on desktops and a five-year cycle on servers. Normally it’s 18 months on desktops and three years for servers. We’re very happy about this.
CrunchGear That’s good news for nerds, for sure. What about application support? Another criticism — not just of Ubuntu, but Linux — is the lack of big name software, specifically games. Do you guys have games on your radar?
Gerry Carr Honestly, no. We’re not aiming to be a gaming platform. Game building is so expensive. You’ll see more Linux games appear, but until Linux is far more ubiquitous, you won’t really see major titles, especailly with the rise of the game console. I mean, you buy and Xbox and plug it into your TV and you’re there.
CrunchGear Well what about other devices? Do you see ubuntu going towards more devices like cellphones in the future?
Gerry Carr Definitely. We’ve got a mobile group that is dedicated to making Ubuntu work on portable devices. All devices are are things that connect to the internet. There are different standards between desktops and mobiles, but Ubuntu can deal with both. You’ll see portable devices running ubuntu this year.
CrunchGear Thanks Gerry, this is all really great stuff. We’ll be keeping an eye on Hardy Heron next month for sure.
Gerry Carr Thanks for talking to me. And cheers.