The word with Mark Shuttleworth

I ran across (with the help of slashdot 🙂 this interview with Mr. Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth, and found it very interesting. It’s a good insight into how a commercial entity is successfully, or hopefully successful, working with the open source community to make things better. I’ve complained a lot here about the Linux desktop experience and Mark feels the pain and is trying to do something about it.

A couple of interesting points he brings up. One is on the Gnome/GTK versus KDE/Qt battle that’s been going on for years, and for years too long IMHO. And he mentions the point that I think is really underlying the issue and that’s licensing. GTK is popular because it’s LGPL which allows for software using it to pick their own license. Qt is technically and aesthetically better, but sorry, unless it’s commercially friendly in a free form, it’s going to lose the battle. And apparently it is losing from what is stated in the article.

And as long as the battle continues and the Linux community spend their limited resources on two desktops, the Linux desktop user community is going to pay the price. Mark discusses why he sees Mac OS X as the biggest winner lately in the desktop wars. It’s because of Apple’s dedication to providing an innovative user experience. That’s going to be hard to achieve with Linux without the community rallying behind fixing it, or a major vendor stepping up and investing in it. It sounds like that’s what Mark is going to do with Canonical, but they aren’t really a major vendor with big pocket books, at least not at this point.

Anyway, an insightful read. A lot of the discussion should be familiar with the Eclipse contributor community. Working and influencing open source is a difficult task and requires some specialized talents. And apparently that bodes well for those that figure it out.