The Ubuntu Rebranding

When I look back at my college days, the only two distros on which I can count on for simplicity was Fedora and Ubuntu. I used the latter just because it suited me and for exercising my right of freedom. Let me jot down the biggest problems I faced whenever I wanted to propagate Ubuntu in my college days under the LUG Manipal banner:

  • People disliked the dark brown theme
  • It didn’t look professional
  • The graphics card didn’t work (The ATI ones)
  • Atheros wireless driver has it’s own share of problems
  • It wasn’t windows
  • …..list continues

The change in branding

This is what I actually wanted from Ubuntu. Just making things doesn’t work. Normal people don’t want advanced things like GIMP or a desktop mail client. All they need is basic things should just work and an eye-candy. Everything should look cool and pleasant.

The new Ubuntu logo: Looks better

This font looks better and more professional than the earlier one. The one before this looked someone like Comic Sans.

Improvements

  • The re-branding brings in much needed boot-screen change. A simple boot-screen is a lot better than a constantly animating one. Remember, the blink tags and marquees for HTML. They do nothing more than distraction.
  • I liked the light theme more than the dark. The reason being that it looks better to my eyes and not because it remotely looks like Mac OSX.
  • Read Mark’s view on this whole saga. Orange will represent Community and Aubergine would represent Canonical. Every branding should be looked with three parameters: Community <=> Commercial, Consumer <=> Enterprise and End-User <=> Engineer. Aubergine with white dots means it is more Commercial and Enterprise based branding.
  • The newer website is a lot better than the previous one. Hope they are not moving away from Drupal.

New Proposed Ubuntu Website

The Roadblocks

Ubuntu has many roadblocks in becoming a major Operating System. Many of them are from within the Open Source community itself. Probably Ubuntu is growing quite fast, but when compared to overall OS market, it is stagnant.

  • Wireless driver problems need to be fixed. Many people just give up because they cannot make Wireless to work on it.
  • The graphics support is still quite weak. People with ATI cards report more problems with NVidia ones. This is one of the places where everyone has been bitten one or the other time. Since I have Intel 945GM graphics chipset on my laptop, those bad days have not struck on me yet.
  • Another roadblock is that Ubuntu has to face a lot of hate from within the OSS community itself. People bash it because it brings in non-technical people into the Linux worlds who don’t want to compile their drivers or don’t want to use the command line.  Some of them go even one step ahead and claim that Linux isn’t meant for people who can’t understand computers. My situation would be the same if I was asked to open the BMW engine(Linux kernel) and fix something deep inside by pulling some random wires(typing commands)
  • Linux in particular was designed to run on ever goddamn architecture on this world. Even though it is a good thing, the effort is split up.

Solution

  • OEM tie-ups: To me, this is the only left to fix the current mess. If you buy a system, the people supplying the hardware will make sure that everything works fine with the OS they provide.  In this case, graphics and wireless drivers can be pre-installed. Depending on patent jurisdictions, even codecs can be pre-installed.
  • Focus on Looks and Usability: Many of the GNOME apps have such horrible looks that I feel it was hacked overnight by devs in half-sleepy state. Some apps like gnome-system-monitor eat up 50% CPU and report the CPU usage to be 50%+.

Finally I am thinking of shifting to Lucid once it comes out.