Unity: Some Further Clarification Points
October 31, 2010
After hectic few weeks on the road I am now back in sunny California, and we
had a wonderful Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, Florida. Thanks to everyone
who made the event such a success. It was so great to meet so many old friends and
to meet the may new friends who experienced UDS for the first time. Looking forward
to working with you in the Natty cycle!
At the start of UDS Mark made the announcement that on hardware that supports
it, Unity will be shipped as the default environment for Ubuntu 11.04. Since the
announcement there has been a lot of commentary and articles about the decision,
mostly of the view of “if you folks can pull this off, this will be awesome“. Thanks
to everyone for the confidence and support in our community and in Canonical. I
know we can make this rock, but we are going to need to pull together to make it
happen. Throughout this cycle we are really uniting as a community, and this feeling
was electrifying at UDS; there was a real shared sense of opportunity, and I for
one am ready to dig my heels in and make this happen.
By and large the commentary since the announcement has reflected the facts, but
some articles have got things a little skewed. My view here is simple: I think everyone
should be welcome to have their own view on Unity, either supportive or cynical,
under the premise that the basis of the discussion reflects the facts and not misinformation.
So, I just wanted to clarify some of the key points regarding the transition
to Unity by default in Ubuntu 11.04 to make sure these facts are clearly communicated:
- Ubuntu is not ditching/forking GNOME – Unity is a shell for GNOME, but not
GNOME shell. Ubuntu is still a GNOME platform. 11.04 will ship all the components
required for GNOME application authors to have their software run out of the
box in Ubuntu, and we will still ship all the GNOME apps you know and love in
Ubuntu 11.04. The only change is that Unity will be the default shell. Likewise,
this is not a fork: we are not diverging away from GNOME, just producing a different
shell in much the same way others have (e.g. Meego). It is just a different
porthole looking at the awesome GNOME platform.
- Unity is the 3D experience, Classic GNOME is the 2D interface – if your
graphics hardware cannot sufficiently run Unity, Ubuntu will present the 2D
experience which is the two-panel GNOME desktop we currently ship, complete
with all the Ayatana improvements such as application indicators, global menu,
system indicators etc.
- Accessibility is a top priority – currently Unity has rather poor accessibility
support (read: basically non-existent) and accessibility is a core ethos in
Ubuntu. As such, Luke Yelavich has been assigned to the DX team (the folks who
code Unity) to work on accessibility support in Unity, and he will be supported
by Gary Lasker. In addition to this, we had a great set of meetings at UDS with
the Ubuntu Accessibility community team [ http://wiki.ubuntu.com/Accessibility
] and they are synced up with Luke to help support this work with testing, bug
triage, and outreach. Great accessibility is a requirement for Unity if it is
to ship in 11.04: let’s pull together to make this happen.
- Performance is being resolved; porting to Compiz – some of you have experienced
poor Unity performance on certain netbooks due to their graphics cards. This
has been identified is a core issue to resolve and it is largely due to performance
issues in clutter and mutter (the graphics backend for Unity). To resolve this
Jason has started work on a Compiz port, and early results (i.e. less than a
week of hacking!) have already seen significant performance improvements. He
demoed it to some folks on hardware that received the most performance bug reports,
and the performance was incredible snappy and slick; it exhibited the kind of
responsiveness and animation that you should expect from a high quality experience.
- Quality is a top priority – Neil and the rest of the Unity team worked off
their socks to get Unity read for the 10.10 netbook edition, and despite their
best efforts, there were some quality issues highlighted and bug reported. The
team believes they have bug reports for the majority of issues, and this cycle
they are spending most of their time focusing on resolving these quality issues
so as to deliver a top-notch Unity experience. In this cycle I am also going
to leading my team to help build community support and contributions around
quality too, particularly around highlighting areas in which the community can
help resolve and fix issues.
- GNOME Shell is supported in Ubuntu – although we are not shipping GNOME
Shell on the disc and as the default environment for Ubuntu, we believe that
users should be able to get a top-notch GNOME Shell experience in Ubuntu. With
Ubuntu Software Center providing one-click access to software, getting a GNOME
Shell experience up and running should only be a click away. To be clear, Seb
and co who work on the Canonical desktop team have limited resources to assist
with this effort, but they are keen to ensure we have a great GNOME Shell experience
and are happy to work with the community to make this happen. Want to make sure
you get a rocking GNOME Shell in Ubuntu? Mail me [ mailto:jonoATubuntuDOTcom
] and let’s see what we can do to make this happen.
- Unity is an Open Source project – Unity is Free Software and a full Open
Source project in which we are going to rely on the community to help make this
rock. We are looking for help with design, documentation, translations, development,
and more! Curious to see how you can help? See this page [ http://unity.ubuntu.com/getinvolved/
] for more!
I think those are the main points for clarification. Many thanks for all those
who have been helping to ensure the correct information and facts have been clarified
in the various commentary happening around the tubes..
Thanks also to everyone who is ready to roll their sleeves up and make this effort
rock. I am hugely excited for the Ubuntu 11.04 release, and this is going to be
a fun cycle as we all circle around Unity and bring our different skills and diversity
of experience and make it the most innovative Ubuntu release yet. Start your engines…
Do you have more questions? Are there some things I have not covered here or
want more detail on? Be sure to join my live video Q+A session [ http://www.ustream.tv/channel/at-home-with-jono-bacon
] in which I will answer all your questions! Join us on Wed 3rd Nov 2010 at 11am
Pacific / 2pm Eastern / 6pm UTC at this location [ http://www.ustream.tv/channel/at-home-with-jono-bacon
] to get involved. See you then!
Copyright 2010 http://www.jonobacon.org/