At the O'Reilly Open Source Conference in Portland, Ore., this week, Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth (a.k.a. the billionaire space traveler) challenged open source developers to create a desktop Linux distribution that would "out-pretty" Apple. He told OSCON attendees on Tuesday:
I think the great task in front of us in the next two years is to lift the experience of the Linux desktop from something stable and usable and not pretty, to something that's art.
To do that, the folks responsible for the Ubuntu desktops want to rid their product of flash ads and banner ads. Instead, it will be paid for by service subscriptions. Advertising in software is annoying and distracts users, according to The Register, and apparently, for Canonical, it's not an option. But for online service subscriptions to work, it has to be a truly shared platform.
Shuttleworth said the open source developers need to include rather than exclude those that are using Windows and other platforms, as well as focus on providing tools that let everyday users "get stuff done and get out." That's the way to win at this game.
Referencing the challenge to "out-pretty Apple," writer Gavin Clarke says Shuttleworth "dream[s] impossible dreams." My two cents? Just because it might not happen in the next two years doesn't mean it's impossible.