Software Reviews Coming to Ubuntu 10.10 Before the New Year!

The Ubuntu Software Center will reach the 3.1 milestone sometime before the new year and according to the Software Center Wiki it will gain a software review feature. Users will be able to rate and review applications in the center.

=== December 2011 ==

We plan to release Ubuntu Software Center 3.1, with one new feature:

  • Rating and reviewing software, and seeing ratings and reviews submitted by other Ubuntu users.

Of course the best part of the news is that this will land in Ubuntu 10.10 and you won’t have to wait till April to try it out.

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Canonical is Hiring an Animator With Game Design Experience?

I know you are probably sick of hearing about Canonical job postings but this story is just a little too good to pass up.

Canonical is hiring someone to work on animations:

  • To craft transitions and animations to bring the Ubuntu operating system alive.
  • Responsible for all creative work on the animations
  • To be attentive to fine detail.
  • To aid in instilling the internal design ethic by continually promoting design and creating beautiful visuals.

But the line that caught my attention was:

Video game design experience is a plus, especially insight into OpenGL

Sadly this is not a full time position and the video game design experience is only desirable. But otherwise it is all good news as it looks like Ubuntu will be getting even slicker in coming months.

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Ubuntu to Drop GDM for LightDM

Currently in the Natty Blueprints there is a blueprint to drop GDM (Gnome Display Manager) for LightDM a new multi-platform Display Manager.

The advantages of using LightDM instead GDM are according to launchpad blueprint:

– Faster – the greeter doesn’t require an entire GNOME session to run
– More flexible – multiple greeters are supported through a well defined interface. This allows Ubuntu derivatives to use the same display manager (e.g. Kubuntu, Lubuntu etc).
– Simpler codebase – similar feature set in ~5,000 lines of code compared to 50,000 in GDM
– Supports more usecases – first class support for XDMCP and multihead.

Note: this blueprint is marked with a “low priority” tag on launchpad so it may not end up landing in 11.04.

In related news a new default user avatar has landed in Natty.

LightDM Homepage:


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Canonical Hiring More Kernel Developers

Well it hasn’t been that long since the last set of hirings (those posts are still open on Ubuntu Jobs at least).Canonical is now adding even more talent. This latest round calls for three more developers with kernel experience to work on hardware support.

The objective of this role is to ensure high-quality support at a kernel/near kernel level for Ubuntu on hardware from Canonical’s various hardware partners. Work will focus on hardware bringup, device driver integration/maintenance, bug fixing, patch maintenance, and upstream development in support of Ubuntu.

This is addition to a Foundations team manager opening on Monday. Moreover, Canonical is also hiring someone for Ubuntu One marketing, a few more web developers and a few server developers.

According to a recent email exchange departing COO Matt Assay stated that Canonical has 400 employees right now. In addition to this there are about 50 open positions on Ubuntu Jobs.

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When is Canonical Going to Start Making Games?

When is Canonical Going To Start Making Games?

Over the last two years I have been asking myself this question frequently. Canonical producing first party titles for Ubuntu going to happen. Perhaps not today or a few months from now but someday. Why?

First lets look at this from the demand side: there is a huge demand for quality games on Ubuntu. This means even if Canonical could convince 12% of it’s 8 million plus users to buy a $20 game Canonical can generate a revenue of over $20 million. Just as a side note: if Canonical managed to sell a game to 1 million people (12.5% of 8 million) it would become one of the top selling PC games of all time! Now you have to wonder is it possible? Could Canonical really make a game appeal to 12% of it’s users? Well it would be difficult but it certainly is possible.

This brings me to my second point: Canonical needs to demonstrate that Ubuntu is a great platform to develop for. Not just for open source applications but also proprietary ones. The economics of the video game market make it highly unlikely that ALL or even most games will ever be open source, it is just too easy to make a profit on them. Moreover, many games already for allow for huge amount of customization and innovation without being completely open source (just look at Starcraft/warcraft). So most of the time game companies have very little to gain and a lot to lose with open source releases. Demonstrating the success of a proprietary title could bring more of these games to Ubuntu.

Now if Canonical were to release propriety games it would face a lot of backlash from certain community members. Yet, releasing propriety games to the platform is better solution than the “free core” model. In that model a company sponsors the development of a distribution but sells a “enhanced” version of it. This of course introduces some conflicts of interest which could make the overall quality of the free distribution suffer. As well Canonical would have a lot more reason to contribute to various background services projects (kernel, xserver/wayland, open source drivers).

I know some people still aren’t convinced but the fact is: Canonical has to sell something to make money on Ubuntu! Money has to change hands and I much rather Canonical start selling games (something that Ubuntu lacks) than the alternatives: applications and closed source services.

If Canonical were to make a highly successful game release on Ubuntu you know other companies are going to take notice. Which could spur more major publishers to release more Ubuntu games.

Lastly, Canonical could build Ubuntu One integration into their games. Not only would this be a great feature: it would allow Canonical to open source the server side code of Ubuntu One. Why? There would finally be a great reason to use Ubuntu One instead implementing a small instance on your own server. With features like saved game sync’ing, achievements and a central server for gamer IDs/voice chat shared between games (like Xbox live and Battlenet): people would have a great reason to use the central Ubuntu One service even if they have to pay a few dollars a month.

Many other platforms have been highly successful in producing first party games. Where would Nintendo be without Mario?  The Xbox without Halo? How about Steam without Counter Strike? It is time Canonical step up and build an amazing game.

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New Ubuntu Wiki Design Live!

The new design for the offical Ubuntu wiki is now live. The design is much more modern and brings the wiki up to date with the current theme on the main website.

Here is the artwork wiki:

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Canonical Boosting Linux Kernel Contribution

Canonical has been criticized for not contributing enough to the Linux broader Linux ecosystem. A report in 2009 didn’t mention Canonical anywhere in their list of top kernel contributors [source]. Instead Canonical’s strategy has and still continues to focus on adding polish to the desktop.

But last week Canonical put up a new two new job offers for kernel developers . The two new positions don’t equate to a huge boost in kernel contributions. Yet, it does mean a few more bugs fixed every release cycle. These developers will mostly be working with the upstream Linux community to improve key parts of the Ubuntu experience.

A large portion of these developer’s roles is to work with hardware providers and testers to see that as much hardware as possible has first class Ubuntu support.

The desirable skills and experience are particularly interesting:

  • Experience with ALSA & sound codecs
  • Experience with BIOS & the ACPI subsystem and related drivers
  • Experience with suspend/resume & power management infrastructures
  • Experience with the kernel portions of KMS (kernel mode switching).

These ALSA and suspend/resume have been trouble in Ubuntu on certain hardware since the beginning. Thus any effort to improve on them is most welcome. The KMS experience will be useful because the Wayland display server depends on it as does Plymouth.

This broader effort is in addition to Canonical’s recent offers for ARM specific kernel developers.


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