With the release of Ubuntu Linux 12.04 "Precise Pangolin" less than a week ago, there's still plenty of excitement and discussion about this latest iteration of Canonical's popular Linux distribution.
Time never stands still, however, so even as Precise Pangolin was making its official debut, work was already beginning on its successor, which we've recently learned will be named Quantal Quetzal.
Also with an eye to the future, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth on Tuesday spent an hour answering questions about what else is coming down the pike for Ubuntu in version 12.10 and beyond. As part of Ubuntu Open Week this week, Shuttleworth's "Ask Mark" session offered a compelling glimpse at what's to come.
Organized at the beginning of each new release cycle, Ubuntu Open Week is a week of IRC tuition and Q+A sessions aimed at getting new contributors involved.
Kicking it all off is the "Ask Mark" session, during which community members are invited to ask Shuttleworth questions about the Ubuntu project.
Questions this time around varied from queries about plans for the Unity desktop to Canonical's relationships with hardware makers and beyond, but they provided interesting insight into Ubuntu's future directions.
You can check out the full transcript for yourself in the IRC log, but here are some of the key highlights.
1. Menus won't disappear soon. In response to one question regarding Ubuntu's new Head-Up Display interface -- and, in particular, what would need to be done to make it a viable replacement for the traditional menu system -- Shuttleworth said there is no specific plan at this point for that to take place.
"No concrete ideas, beyond keeping traditional menus around as long as we need them for that purpose," he said.
Furthermore, "since we have all the data in the global menu now, it should be possible for people to experiment with lightweight Python programs to mock up ideas or suggestions," he added.
2. Unity is two-thirds done. Unity provides a better desktop shell experience for users than GNOME does, Shuttleworth asserted, reiterating similar comments he's made before.
"We get criticized for using Firefox not Epiphany, or Rhythmbox not Banshee, or... you name it," he explained. "But the fact that we make those tough decisions, with the criterion being 'what works best out of the box for users,' is part of what makes Ubuntu important in the open source ecosystem. That's how we've made open source useful for millions of other people."
The interface is now about two-thirds of the way to fulfilling the original vision for it, he added.