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Shuttleworth: Linux developers should "shut the f**k up"

Mark Shuttleworth

By Stuart Turton

Posted on 25 Sep 2009 at 10:54

Mark Shuttleworth believes open-source developers need to "shut the f**k up" if Linux is ever to seriously challenge on the desktop.

Shuttleworth was speaking at the LinuxCon conference on the eternal topic of whether Linux-based operating systems will ever find traction in a market dominated by proprietary software such as Windows.

While many commentators have written off the open-source challenge, Shuttleworth was typically bullish.

"We definitely shouldn't give up the desktop. This is one of the most exciting years for the desktop in living memory," Shuttleworth said, citing the emergence of Moblin and Google's Chrome OS as potential flag bearers.

If we can't make design cool in free software we won't take first prize

However, he went on to argue that if Linux is to broaden its appeal then more focus needs to be placed on the user interface - a significant area of interest for Canonical-sponsored Ubuntu, which has a user experience team dedicated to discovering how people interact with its software.

It was an approach, he argued, that needed to be adopted by more open-source developers. "If the developer is in the room, they have to say nothing. It's the shut the f**k up protocol. You sit and watch someone struggle with the software that you've so lovingly produced."

"If we can't figure out how to bring these two communities together in a powerful way, I don't think we'll achieve the dream," Shuttleworth said. "If we can't make design cool in free software we won't take first prize."

It's a theory Shuttleworth hopes to back up with Karmic Koala, which is set to receive a visual revamp before its launch on 29 October.

It's been a busy week for the Canonical chief executive, who also appeared at IDF to unveil an Ubuntu Remix based on the Moblin core.

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User comments

atrocious headline

an awful headline lets down a good piece about the push for better user interfaces...

pcpro fxxks it up again!

By storm311 on 27 Sep 2009

Better by Design.

It does no good to squawk about why things are not happening.

Encouragement toward joint development of a better interface would seem more appropriate.

Interfaces are necessarily based on functionality and design and from the users point of view; they need to work to get a job done.

Very early Cars had a stick-like device to steer them. It was superseded by the steering wheel.

This was a successful multi-joint venture... design function and usability.

True Engineering principles can be applied along with Linux.

By lenmontieth on 28 Sep 2009

Linux or Ubuntu?

Whenever Shuttleworth says "Linux" you can be sure he means "Ubuntu". It would seem that his aim is to become the Bill Gates/Steve Jobs of the open-source world. But wait a minute, isn't the soon-to-be-released Ubuntu 1 proprietary? Yes, just like his former product "Thawte" which he sold for a small fortune to VeriSign. Others may be taken in by Shuttleworth but I've always believed that he is only using the open-source community as a stepping stone to his second fortune.

By 6tricky9 on 2 Oct 2009

Whose workforce?

I don't disapprove of people making money from software, even if it has been developed for free. I prefer using Vista to using a free Linux (some will gasp!). But open-source software has always worked on the assumption that a dissatisfied user was aware of the problems involved, and would make their views known to the developer.
This is why free software developers can't 'shut up'; they develop stuff in precisely that way!
If Shuttleworth wants professional developers, he can always pay for them, not bully them and expect them to work for nothing.

By johnleyden on 5 Oct 2009

A misunderstanding of free software

@johnleyden: "I don't disapprove of people making money from software, even if it has been developed for free."

Neither do I. I was trying to highlight what I felt was a dishonest position being adopted by Mark Shuttleworth.

"But open-source software has always worked on the assumption that a dissatisfied user was aware of the problems involved, and would make their views known to the developer." You seem to completely miss the point of free software. Because it is *free* you can do what you like with it -- you do not need to contact the developer! If you can't do it yourself then pay for somebody else to do it -- it's free and open source and it's your call. On the other hand, you try and persuade the owner of proprietary code to carry out bug fixes as and when you want them, and good luck to you if you can accomplish that.

By 6tricky9 on 7 Oct 2009

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