December 23, 2009 · News · Email This Post

Ubuntu has led the Linux community's efforts to improve on form, not simply function, and thereby make the Linux experience as good or better than Mac OS X in terms of usability. Mark Shuttleworth, founder and CEO of Canonical, the company set up to shepherd development and commercialization of Ubuntu, is the heart of that effort.
As announced on Thursday, however, Shuttleworth is resigning as Canonical CEO to focus on improving the Ubuntu user experience:

From March next year, I'll focus my Canonical energy on product design, partnerships and customers. Those are the areas that I enjoy most and also the areas where I can best shape the impact we have on open source and the technology market.

Is this good or bad for Ubuntu? And what about Canonical?

Canonical is reportedly doing $30 million per year in sales, and is working on some significant projects that may establish it as the de facto Linux distribution for Netbooks, if it isn't already. (Ubuntu is arguably the community choice for personal computers.)

Even so, Linux still has a long way to go to match the user experience of Mac OS X, or even Windows. Shuttleworth has given me a sneak peak of his vision for where Ubuntu can go from a UI perspective.

I was blown away. This is a man who "gets it."

Even so, he and the Ubuntu community still have a ways to go to match Microsoft or Apple in user experience, and certainly in market share. To get there, Ubuntu needs Canonical, and Canonical needs Shuttleworth fixated on improving Ubuntu's user experience.

When I asked what his resignation as CEO means for Ubuntu, and his involvement with it, Shuttleworth responded:

I don't expect to be less visible, just have stronger management for the business units.

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