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Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon Talks About Ubuntu for Android, Humble Bundles, Steam, Gaming and More

Jono Bacon, Ubuntu Community Manager at Canonical recently replied to user questions while doing 'Ask Me Anything' session at Reddit.

Check out some of the excerpts:

Are you still actively trying to push Ubuntu to Android manufacturers/developers? If so, have any responded with any interest? Also, any chance that private developers (Cyanogenmod  / MIUI / AOKP / AOSP) will get a chance to bake Ubuntu into custom ROMs?

JB: Yes, the convergent device (Ubuntu on Android) is a key area of focus. Canonical engineers have been continuing to build it out and our business team has been working with various handset makers to sign agreements. I believe there are a few deals underway. As for people taking it and baking it into custom ROMs, I don't see why this couldn't happen in the future. It is unlikely to be one of our standard releases as most people don't install new OSs on their phones, but I am sure the software will be available for integration some time.

How did the Humble Bundle thing go? We're they/Ubuntu receptive and it all went smoothly? Any chance of getting the back catalog into the software center? Also any chance to standardizing a set of libraries for game development in Ubuntu, kind of like what ya'll did for Gtk apps and Quickly?

JB: The Humble Indie Bundle release has gone really well. We had nearly 10000 downloads in 72 hours, and the downloads are continuing. A number of previous games are in the Ubuntu Software Center and we are working on others too.

As for Quickly and game development: I would love to see that, we just need a community member to contribute to this. If you (or someone else) wants to help, I would be happy to help you get connected to the right person.

Does this mean that you plan to allow us to link games from previous bundles that are in the software center to our account? I would like to be able to link my purchase of World of Good, Braid, Bittrip runner, and probably others so that I can more easily download and install them.

JB: I think that would be the optimal option.

On a non "I h8 unity" tangent, gaming (and Netflix, to an extent) is a big part of the reason I'm still on Windows some of the time. Are you excited that Steam is coming to Linux? What are the major hurdles, in your opinion, to a better gaming experience on Linux?

JB: I am stoked about Steam coming to Linux. The challenge will be hardware support for some graphics cards (most work great), but I suspect that Steam on Linux will apply pressure to the card makers.

What type of communication is there between Ubuntu/Canonical and the major PC game developers in regards to promoting more native Linux/.deb version of games? It's always been said that until gaming can happen without the need for WINE/Cedega/etc that Linux cannot take a larger share of the desktop market. I was curious if the Ubuntu/Canonical guys (as the "big dogs of the Linux desktop world") were actively reaching out to game developers/distributors in order to push this along.

JB: We have a team of people at Canonical who are regularly reaching out to games publishers (e.g. EA) to encourage them to bring their technology to Ubuntu. What these publishers are looking for is sales: they need to know people will buy their games, and this is why it is important to grow the awareness of the Ubuntu Software Center so people do buy the games. :-)

Have you ever negotiated with Valve for bringing steam to Ubuntu/Linux?

JB: There has been some discussions.

How are you and the rest of Canonical dealing with all of the criticisms of Unity? Is Canonical trying to become the Apple of Linux? What other strategies are you implementing to help Linux go mainstream?

JB:  I believe the criticism around Unity could be divided into two broad categories (1) fear of change and (2) criticism about the design/stability of Unity. Back when we originally released Unity into Ubuntu, there was a lot of (1) and some (2). With Ubuntu 12.04 there is a little (1) and not much (2). Unity in 12.04 is significantly faster, better designed, and better executed and I most of the responses I have seen to 12.04 have been praising Unity.

In terms of fear of change, there will always be some folks who don't like it: that is fine; we have many wonderful options for desktops in Ubuntu. Some folks though feel like we are "dumbing down Linux"; I thoroughly disagree with that notion. Linux should be for everyone, not just Linux geeks, and we want Ubuntu to bring Free Software to everyone, not just a fiefdom populated by those with significant technical skills.

There are some similarities between us and Apple. We want to build beautiful experiences on the desktop, devices, and cloud. The difference is that we want to do this with our strong Free Software values.

I want to develop Free Software and make money out of it. What business models do you suggest so that it can be profitable ? Here are a few models I can think of : make the source available but sell the packaged program ; make the software rely on a service that is not free ; donations ; create closed-source add-ons ; etc. What are your ideas about it, Jono ?

JB: I would recommend as a first step to build an awesome app that people like and then do the following:

Sell it in the Ubuntu Software Center
Have a donations page on your website.
Sell additional services or materials such as training books, audiobooks, etc.
I think this could make the good stuff happen. :-)

Will there be a Bitcoin wallet provided in the Software Center soon?

JB: If someone submits it for inclusion then yes! :-) If anyone is reading this and they have made a wallet, find out how to submit it at

Do you have someone on your team that is focused on the business desktop users community?

JB: Today, not really. Our primary focus is on the collaborative contributor community. This is changing as we focus more and more on user communities (e.g. the app dev community who only want to use Ubuntu as a platform).

I am wondering about what you think about all of the distros that are based on Ubuntu, such as Mint and Pinguy. Does it annoy you that people are moving over to these Ubuntu spinoff's? Or is this just something you expect due to working in the Linux community?

JB: I think flavors and derivatives are awesome, and we are very supportive of them. Part of the reason we divide up Ubuntu engineering into Kernel, Foundations, and Desktop is to ensure that the Kernel and Foundations output can be useful for flavors and derivatives too. Our goal here is to build a powerful Free Software platform, and encouraging others to create flavors and derivs is a great feature in building that platform.

How does Canonical make profit? Ubuntu is completely free. Do people actually buy the CDs? Or/and do you take a percentage from the Software Center purchases?

JB: We make money from a variety of areas:

Custom Engineering
OEM Contracts
Affiliate Revenue
Other things such as merch.

UbuntuTV .. is it going to be available to hardware manufacturers/content providers only at first (like Ubuntu for Android) or will we be able to use it on our lowly home-brewed HTPCs (I've got an A6-3500 system just itching for it)

JB: Right now the focus is on hardware makers. I suspect in the future there will be a community organized flavor for HTPCs. Again, we just need volunteers to make the magic happen. :-)

Have you ever met Mark Shuttleworth? How is he?

JB: Indeed, he was over at my house for a BBQ a few weeks ago.

I have worked with him since I joined Canonical. He is a cool guy, very technically savvy, with a strong vision, and a strong loyalty to people who are loyal to him. He is very passionate about the community and sits on our Community Council and Technical Board and often gets involved in community matters.


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