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Getting the Pieces in Place

Jono explains what's going on behind the scenes at Ubuntu on the desktop, mobile devices, and the cloud and how the community fits into the grand plan.

Ubuntu is on a brave journey. From our historical underpinnings with the Desktop and Server, we have mapped out an ambitious journey to deliver a single ubiquitous platform across desktops, phones, tablets, TVs, and the cloud. This journey is not one Canonical will take alone; it is a journey that our community is at the heart of shaping.

Our goals are divided into two areas: the client and the cloud. Each represents an intricate set of technical challenges with its own schedules and dependencies for delivering these goals. I want to talk a little about each of these areas and the work that is going on.

On the client side, few of you will have missed our goals around convergence. In January, we announced Ubuntu for phones, building on the work already going into Ubuntu for Android, Ubuntu TV, and, of course, the Ubuntu Desktop. Next, we announced Ubuntu for Tablets to complete the lineup. All of these device form factors fall under the banner of a project called Ubuntu Touch, which our engineering task force is knee-deep in building.

Ubuntu Touch is pretty unique. Although we have an existing Unity code base on the desktop, we are actively working to unify the different interfaces for these devices into the same Unity code tree. Thus, if you run Unity on a small, tall, and thin screen, you see the phone experience. If the screen is wider but still small, you get the tablet, and if you have a larger screen, you see the desktop. This work is targeted to be ready for Ubuntu 14.04 across all the device form factors.

We also need a set of foundational changes to deliver this convergence. For many years, we have depended on the 30-year-old X drawing system, and we are switching that out for Mir – a fast, thin, and multidevice-compatible drawing system that we are building. We have also been doing extensive performance optimization work across the core internals of Ubuntu. We ported the Ubuntu Desktop to the Nexus 7 tablet to focus on getting the kernel, memory management, power management, and other elements working as efficiently as possible. You will experience many of these performance improvements in Ubuntu 13.04, most notably in the efficiency of Unity.

Building a platform is only one part of the puzzle, though. We also needed to build a powerful developer platform for building and submitting apps. As such, we have released a technical preview of the Ubuntu Software Development Kit and refreshed developer.ubuntu.com with documentation, tutorials, and support resources to help get people up and running. We have reformed how apps get uploaded to Ubuntu and are building full sandboxing within the platform to produce end-to-end app reviews.

We kicked off a campaign to work with our community to build the core set of apps we need to deliver on the phone and tablet. This project has netted some wonderful results – across 10 apps  – with hundreds of community contributors, and many of these apps are already shipping in the development builds of Ubuntu Touch. As part of the Ubuntu Touch community growth and outreach, the codebase has also been ported by our community to 40 handsets, with 25 handsets in progress, across 19 different brands. There are 4,800+ posts in the XDA Ubuntu Touch forum, and our app developer community has grown to 1,650 members on Google+, with a huge variety of apps in development.

Ubuntu is already the most popular operating system in use in the cloud, and we are working to improve its efficiency and reliability as a guest OS. We have been porting our Juju cloud orchestration platform to the Go programming language for increased performance and dependability, and we are building out our orchestration across cloud deployments and deploying multiple metal nodes with Metal as a Service (MaaS). Running on top of this work has been Juju GUI – a unique graphical interface that provides visibility across your entire deployment and makes it easy to scale up, expand your service, and redeploy elsewhere. We also have been working extensively with upstream projects to ensure their software is available as Juju charms, as well as running outreach, charm schools, and QA initiatives to build widespread support for Juju.

I can't remember a more exciting time for Ubuntu. At the heart is a strong foundational operating system, and all this innovation across phones, tablets, TVs, desktops, servers, and the cloud is built on that foundation. Fueling that innovation is a determination to build a powerful and ubiquitous platform harnessed to our core values of community, openness, and transparency  – everything going on here is completely open and available for participation, and we welcome everyone to join us!

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