Mar 12 2013
I tried to post this as a comment on Mark Shuttleworth’s latest blog post “Let’s go faster while preserving what works best“, but apparently it did not pass his Akismet filter:
I’ve always thought that it was wrong to advertise the interim-releases in the first place. The entire Ubuntu family of desktop operating systems is targeted at users, not developers, not Linux-geeks, not power users. So the LTS version should be the only one clearly visible on the homepage, not the interim releases. Following this line of thought, it’s still a problem that the LTS releases only have out-dated, old software in the Software Center. Where is the latest GIMP? Where is the latest LibreOffice? VLC? smplayer? Users usually don’t care about the latest OS features, they care about up-to-date apps. Because believe it or not, users user applications – not operating systems! So it would be great to have a stable LTS version and point releases that include backports of new features until there is a new LTS releases. Actually, this is what a certain big company located in Redmond, Washington does with Service Packs. And that is a GOOD approach. It’s been tested and it’s been widely accepted.
I think this also means that you should completely separate the core OS from the applications. If I want applications, I go to the Software Center – and everything in there should be CURRENT and, most importantly, fully compatible with the last two LTS releases. This will be a tough but important job. Tag the interim releases “development releases” and whoever wants them will find them. But they shouldn’t be the focus. I am one of the millions of Ubuntu users who don’t want to fiddle with interim-, beta- or development releases. I need something that “just works”. And by the very definition, this has to be the LTS. However, I also want to use CURRENT applications, not old and forgotten releases. With the situation as it is today, I cannot really take an Ubuntu LTS release serious because you guys do NOT seriously support it! What good is a platform with five years of support when all that I can do with it is using five years old software from the Software Center? I know that this is not entirely true; there are PPAs. But let’s be frank here: Using a PPA is far beyond the capabilities of the average USER. And you want to attract USERS to Ubuntu, don’t you? Not some elitist system administrator and system developer club.
Let’s once again compare this to that big company in Redmond: They still support an operating system that will soon turn 14 years. Almost ALL new software still runs on that old operating system. THIS is what USERS expect from a reliable and trustworthy platform. If you cannot or do not want to deliver this experience, then simply stop putting the “LTS” label on something. Nobody who is just a user cares for “rolling releases” – and certainly nobody who is a corporate user would want such a thing. In the business/corporate world, you need a well defined, fixed point against which to test your applications. This cannot be a moving target. If you don’t believe me, talk with someone from the pharmaceutical industry, for example. You will be horrified, because this world is the exact opposite of everything that most Linux developers believe in. But this is one of your target audiences – at least when you are really serious about attracting “users”.
Another thing that you should think about is this: Maybe it’s time for you guys to shift your attention from the core platform to APPLICATIONS. Where are the Photoshop, iMovie, Garageband, Logic Studio, Scrivener, Aperture and Lightroom of the Open Source world? And I mean software of the same caliber and the SAME level of usability, not something that is supposed to deliver the same functionality after you’ve spent four years on a university studying it. Heck, where are even the commercial/proprietary versions for Linux? Any platform is only as good as the software that is available for it. It’s the year 2013 and the only reason that Linux is usable on the desktop are the available web browsers and the fact that most of the things that we do today have moved to the Internet.
The core platform is more than good enough already. Just make it a stable target, find OEM partners for it and then focus on software for USERS. Just my 2 cents.