Chrome nearly replaced Firefox in Ubuntu Linux, Mark Shuttleworth says

By , Network World |  Software, Canonical, chrome browser

Shuttleworth tackled a number of other topics related to Ubuntu, open source controversies, Microsoft and even the future of space travel in our interview. He even talked about why he may be one of the world's richest people who doesn't own a smartphone. Here are some highlights:

The Unity/GNOME controversy

As anyone who follows the Linux world knows, Ubuntu switched from the standard GNOME interface to its own Unity, creating a bit of tension between Canonical and GNOME developers. Both Unity and GNOME 3 use OpenGL to create a highly graphical, hopefully more intuitive interface.

"We see [Unity] as part of the GNOME project," Shuttleworth said. "That's certainly how we conceived it."

But, "We're now in a little bit of limbo because GNOME is having this internal debate over, do they want to have multiple interfaces or not? That leaves us in a very awkward position."

REVIEW: Ubuntu breaks from the Linux pack

Traditionally, Ubuntu has used the GNOME interface as a default, but shipped multiple versions so people could choose other options, such as KDE. Canonical is working to get GNOME 3 -- or whatever comes after -- into future releases of Ubuntu so that people will have that choice again, Shuttleworth said. Today, people who prefer GNOME 3 can switch to Red Hat's Fedora.

Unity itself is plagued with a few problems. For one thing, it requires OpenGL-capable hardware. That improves the desktop experience, but users with older machines are pushed back to the old GNOME 2 interface.

The next step is letting users with older hardware use the Unity interface in a "2D" environment, rather than what Shuttleworth called the full 3D experience.

The problem is less in the hardware than it is in the Linux software stack, which has trouble enabling advanced graphics features.

"The Linux graphics stack enablement isn't great," Shuttleworth said. "There are a lot of devices where [Unity] is not an appropriate choice. So we've been working on a 2D version of Unity, which preserves all the same semantics and behaviors, but it's visually less intense."

DE ICAZA: GNOME creator respects proprietary software, can't wait for iPad 2

While Shuttleworth said Canonical's user testing shows Unity is easier to use than GNOME 3, he acknowledged there are aspects of the new menu and search systems that "are slightly awkward to use."

Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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