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April 27, 2006

Mark Shuttleworth: Delivering on the Promise of Free Software

The first Thursday morning kenote at MySQL Users Conference is Mark Shuttleworth. Mark has done a ton of stuff (Thawte, space flight), but he's here today to talk about Ubuntu Linux, which he founded. Ubuntu is a fairly universal term across several African tribes that translates to "human-ness" the way you look after other people expresses best who you are.

10 years ago MySQL leveled the playing field. Mark was able to get into development as a kid in a garage many years ago because of MySQL and other open source tools.

Mark says you never want to be trying to make or be the next X, you want to pioneer in new ways.

The new deal of free software has different economics. Software is free globaly, provides free updates, and is supported by MANY commercial companies. There's a new culture with community governance that is open to participation on all levels. Participants get to see the development and decisions.

Ubuntu has set out to build a community-driven distribution that can grow and sustain itself through support and services.

What Ubuntu attempts to provide:

Ubuntu attempts to keep drivers up to date, very important to desktop users of Linux.

To make it sustainable it's important to maintain relationship with upstreams (kernel, Apache, MySQL, Firefox, etc). Also are staying close to other distributions, making sure Ubuntu is using ideas from other distros. Mark suggests we're getting pretty good at internal collaboration on specific project but there needs to be a lot more cross-project collaboration. A person working on one project that discovers a bug in aother should have a channel for free exchange about it.

Rather than trying to look at what people have done before that's good and try repeat it we should be trying to step back and figure out what we can do that other people couldn't do.

Free software enables a different economic paradigm. Embrace it.

Posted by mike at April 27, 2006 11:38 AM