Scott James Remnant (English)

Introducing Ubuntu Linux

Who are you and what do you do?

Dpkg, GNU libtool and pkg-config

Dpkg is a low-level package manager which can remove, install or update software. A high-level tool like APT can fetch packages from online repositories and then install/update using dpkg.

GNU libtool is a tool for making portable shared libraries, typically used with Autoconf and Automake, two tools in the GNU build system.

Pkg-config makes it easier to compile software across platforms. If pkg-config is configured correctly, the software will find the necessary files and/or libraries needed for compilation, even if they are in a different location than on the original system.

My name's Scott James Remnant and I'm the leader of the Ubuntu Desktop Team, the development team that concentrates on the desktop edition of Ubuntu which is the version most people are familiar with.

I was one of the original groups of developers hired by Mark, based on my work with the Debian project; at the time, I was maintaining dpkg, GNU libtool and pkg-config.

My role has varied over the four years, from some of the early decisions about which applications to include to my current role of leading the desktop team.

Within the community, I also sit as one of the members of the Ubuntu Technical Board which arbitrates technical decisions and disputes within the community and also reviews all applications to become Ubuntu developers.

Most already know, but for those who don't: What is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is a Linux distribution born from the idea of taking the Debian distribution and making regular, time-based, releases with a desktop slant. By using collaboration tools such as distributed revision control, we would be able to maintain our own bug fixes and work to provide better integration between the selected applications.

Since then, Ubuntu has grown into a full distribution in its own right, though we still very much maintain our Debian roots. Each Ubuntu release cycle still has a period where we update to the latest packages from Debian unstable to develop from.

The goal is simple: to bring Linux to the masses by having a distribution where everything just works, is easy and delightful to use, and regularly updated.

The Ubuntu desktop
The Ubuntu desktop
Click for a larger image

Mark Shuttleworth is the public face of Ubuntu and Canonical. What is his actual role in the Ubuntu development?

Mark Shuttleworth

In the early 1990's, Mark Shuttleworth participated as a developer on Debian Linux. In 2004 he founded Canonical Ltd. which funds the development of the now popular Ubuntu Linux Distribution.

Mr. Shuttleworth spent approximately 20 million dollars to be the second "space tourist" in 2002.

More about Mark Shuttleworth on Wikipedia.

Within the community structure of Ubuntu, Mark's role is that of the Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator For Life (SABDFL). He leads the Community Council and Technical Board, and if there ever was to be a dispute between the two groups, would arbitrate that.

He takes an active interest in the development of the distribution, and each release usually has features he personally has requested and championed.

Ubuntu is regarded by many as THE most user-friendly Linux-distribution. Do you feel the pressure of living up to these expectations, is there a sense of competition with Linux-distributions like Fedora or openSUSE?

Our biggest competitor is our own previous releases. Each release, we have to improve on the last; each release has to be smaller, faster, more attractive and with more features. When we turn out our best release yet, we know that we have to do even better for the one after.

With the other distributions, there is more of a sense of collaboration. Since all of our software is Open Source, we all share the same code and features.

Why did you choose debian unstable as the basis for this Linux-distribution, compared to creating the Linux-distribution from scratch?

Debian already provided a stable, well-maintained base of packages consisting of the majority of the available open software. It's the work of around a thousand individual developers, and thus the ideal base to build from when your team is somewhat smaller.

How compatible would you say Ubuntu is with Debian?


The goal of the Linux Standard Base (LSB for short) is to develop and promote a set of standards that will increase compatibility among Linux distributions and enable software applications to run on any compliant system. In addition, the LSB will help coordinate efforts to recruit software vendors to port and write products for Linux.

Debian and Ubuntu are different distributions, so you cannot simply mix packages from the two and expect them to work flawlessly together. However software built for a particular version of Debian will normally work without modification on an equivalent version of Ubuntu.

Certainly at a source-code level, all Linux distributions are compatible. At a binary level, we conform to the LSB.

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