The latest and greatest release of Ubuntu — 11.04, or “Natty Narwhal” — is nearly upon us. To get a sense of how the new version situates Ubuntu and the rest of the open source community going forward, I recently spoke with Canonical VP Steve George. Here’s what he had to say about the new release and more:
For starters, anyone who reads Linux blogs at least once in a while knows by now that Natty’s major claim to fame is the Unity desktop interface, which will become the default in new installations. Traditional GNOME will remain available as an option, at least for this release cycle, as will a 2D version of Unity catered to users whose hardware doesn’t support the video acceleration demanded by the default interface.
Asked about the motivations behind the switch to Unity, George stressed simplicity and ease-of-deployment. “The direction for Unity is to try to simplify the user interface,” he explained. In addition, he pointed to the increasing importance of mobile phone interfaces, which Unity parallels in many respects, as a “reference point” for user expectations — even as he cautioned that, at least for now, Canonical has no plans to try to compete on mobile hardware.