Ubuntu is not going to give me a decent desktop OS anymore

I’ve always been an Ubuntu fan for the past 10 years since the distribution came out with the promise of a usable deskto, with a promise of openness, regular releases, great integration between different and separated projects, great vision for world dominance. I loved all of that and I loved the execution, including the latest evolution. I love HUD and how it uses screen real estate, allows me to be more effective at commanding window-based application without having to touch the mouse. I love most of Unity, the dash and the lenses although I don’t use most of it.

Lately I’ve gone from concerned fan to very sad: I’m considering switching to another distribution. What I don’t really like is the lack of investments from Canonical on productivity tools that we live for: an email client and a calendar client. I already ranted about the sad state of free software collaboration tools and unfortunately Canonical decided to invest time and energy in supporting not a desktop for productivity but as a gaming platform, a cloud operating system and a mobile system. Canonical is devoting its engineers to develop things I really don’t care about. All I wanted was a good, solid desktop operating system for my daily computing needs: email, calendar, web browsing, audio/video collaboration tools and a decent way to exchange ‘office’ documents with peopls stuck in 1998 way of producing content. Sadly Ubuntu is not going to provide that in the near future, it even backed out from offering the most basic tools like an email client and a calendar client.

When I look at the alternatives though, I am even more sad and want to cry. GNOME seems to be stupidly following all the things that Apple does, including the obvious mistakes like the broken behavior of ALT-TAB (I expect GNOME developers to invert the way we scroll pages any time now, because Apple did that with absolutely no logical reason). GNOME also lacks a modern email client, addressbook and calendar client, with Evolution being stuck in 1998. And spare me to mention KDE: great technology, just no decent UI for it.

I’m sure Ubuntu will look great in a couple of years on TVs, phones, clouds but all I wanted was my desktop and I fear that for the next couple of years I’ll be stuck with a broken one, being it Ubuntu or Fedora or something else.

Watching the live streaming from Cupertino’s council debating…

Watching the live streaming from Cupertino’s council debating the new Apple campus. Even the environmentalists are defending the massive pouring of concrete in the middle of orchards and farming land. Not sure if I should admire the democracy in action or laugh at these people saying silly things to defend Apple, a company that has deprived them of basic rights like the right to sell or give to your friends the books or music you rightfully bought.

Webnapperon: a way to share URLs with my dad

Here is an interesting concept: RFID tags used by elderly to retrieve content stored online in different applications. I can see my dad using the  appropriate physical object to retrieve the pictures of his nephews or to read the local newspaper online or to see the meteo or to popup G+ feed (well… not G+ as Google fills it with junk, like trending things and suggestions… but you get the idea). I see a viable and sustainable business for this too, think of RFID tags attached to holiday greeting cards…

ERASME – Webnapperon.

Talking about scaling communities at Cloud Open 2013

Speaking of Linux and communities, my talk for Cloud Open was accepted. I’ll be talking about “Scaling your community from tens to hundreds of contributors

The OpenStack project has broken many records for open source projects: it’s currently one of the largest and fastest growing ones out there. In just three years OpenStack has attracted over 1,000 developers with over 300 active committers per month, hundreds of patches reviewed per week and hundreds of companies involved with dozens of them strongly committed to OpenStack. What makes OpenStack different from other projects? What fuels the extraordinary growth of OpenStack’s community of developers and users around the world and sets it apart from other open source projects? In this talk I’ll walk through examples of other communities that I’ve been deeply involved with, from the Free Software Foundation to the Funambol sync server to identify the keys to OpenStack’s success. Participants will take away ideas to replicate with their own projects.

See you in New Orleans on September 18th.

Google is not acting in anti-competitive fashion

If I owned Microsoft’s shares I’d vote for the end of Ballmer’s era. How long before crazy gets crazier? Microsoft’s products are bad, they’re only sold because of network effects (dependency from proprietary, secret formats and protocols and old human habits). According to Federal Trade Commission there is no need for further investigation.

Google’s FTC Settlement Is An Epic Fail For Microsoft.

More thoughts on Dell XPS 13 Laptop Project Sputnik

I’m glad to read that Dell pulled the trigger and after six month of the beta program Project Sputnik released the product. The web is full of news and comments about the Dell XPS 13 laptop, developer edition powered by Ubuntu. I’m less interested to debate the choice of pricing ($50 less than the Windows version) or screen resolution or the improvment in RAM size compared to the beta I have.

It’s more interesting for me to debate Luis Suarez Potts question “Why Ubuntu?”  My impression is that Dell keeps experimenting to check the business viability of Linux on the desktops. They want to see what sort of combination of software will make them sell more hardware. This comment directly from Barton George’s blog seems to confirm my impression:

project Sputnik began as a skunkworks effort. It was made possible by internal incubation fund designed to bring wacky ideas from around the company to life in order to tap innovation that might be locked up in people’s heads.

Would it make sense for Dell to ask other communities like Debian or Fedora to chime in this sort of innovative efforts? I’m not sure. I believe that for Dell it’s easier to ask Canonical to dedicate one engineer to maintain kernel patches for this specific hardware: both companies may win something out of this effort. Dell gets kernel patches and support from Canonical, Canonical gets reputation of developing a operating system viable enough to be sold and supported officially by Dell.  Ultimately Fedora and Debian users will benefit from it since kernel patches go upstream, they will be able to get their systems on the XPS 13.

My hope is that this experiment leads HP or Sony or Lenovo to enter in similar agreements with Red Hat or SuSE: more drivers, more support for desktop hardware, more choice and freedom for us GNU/Linux users.

New job, same job, at OpenStack Foundation, new laptop

This week was my first week as an employee of the OpenStack Foundation. I’m Technical Community Manager, still helping the OpenStack project succeed by helping the technical contributions. The difference is that my salary is now being paid by the newly formed OpenStack Foundation instead of Rackspace. Most of the people I worked with more closely at Rackspace are also at the OpenStack Foundation: Lauren, Mark, Jonathan and Thierry and we’re also hiring more people.

I have high hopes for the projects I will present at the Grizzly Summit: Achieving Visibility and Insight Across OpenStack Projects with Dashboards, Traceability, and Faceted Search, Integrated identity system for OpenStack  and Tracking OpenStack adoption.

 The main thing that changed is my laptop: finally I got rid of that heavy brick I used to carry around and now I have a slick, top of the line Dell XPS 13, the Project Sputnik one, powered by Ubuntu. Oh, what a great machine. I love it already. It gets noisy some time but I believe that’s because I had to run java applets in the past days. I’ll post more details about how I set it up later on. Good times.

The cost of owning your social graph

With Facebook being that awful mess it is and always will be, Twitter becoming an awful mess, too, Google Plus being not really better than the previous two, App.net seems to be on the right track. A social network that is not basing its revenues on advertising but it’s selling subscriptions. Users pay $50 a year, get a service that seems not too different from Twitter but the product is not you. It reminds me of status.net and diaspora, it even supports PubSubHubbub but it’s not free-as-in-freedom software.

I support such experiments: selling advertising is not only boring but dangerous for the society as a whole. I’d rather pay to own my social graph (like I pay for this hosting+domain) than be sold.

More on Social networks: Micromanaging microblogs | The Economist.