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Interview with Dmitry Agafonov [Ubuntu.ru]

With each new release, the Ubuntu operating system proves its viability in the operating system market, and is increasingly attracting fans to its camp. Obviously, the stagnant hegemony of Windows is not liked by everyone, and especially by people associated with IT. We decided to develop this topic and talk with Dmitry Agafonov, who is the coordinator of the support team of the huge Russian-speaking community of users of Ubuntu.ru .

Stanislav Gornakov (Head. Ed. Web Analytic.INFO): Hello, Dmitry! We are glad to welcome you on the pages of Web Analytics.INFO. Dmitry, let's start with Ubuntu itself, its history and goals, and then let's talk about the Russian-speaking community of Ubuntu users. Maybe not everyone knows what Ubuntu is, so tell us briefly about the history of this distribution, Canonical itself and its goals.

Dmitry Agafonov: Hello! I am also pleased to have the opportunity to tell a little about Ubuntu and the people who are working on this interesting project. Turning to the history of Canonical and the distribution of Ubuntu, it is impossible to pass by the founder and mastermind of all this: Mark Shuttleworth (Mark Shuttleworth). Born in the Republic of South Africa, Mark received a degree in Finance and Information Technology from the University of Cape Town, where a world of open source programs has opened up for him. For a while, Mark was one of the Debian Linux developers and, working in the team of this well-deserved and respected distribution, he understood both the positive and negative sides of the Debian project and decided to change something. So in 2004, Ubuntu and Canonical were born. The main goals in the work were clear release dates (and not according to the schedule “when we do, then it will be released”) and the readiness of the distribution kit, as a product, for the mass consumer market as a general-purpose operating system, and later as a server. Canonical, therefore, became the official developer of Ubuntu, a commercial OEM partner for computer manufacturers, and also began to provide technical support to customers who installed Ubuntu.

SG: The scope of the company is impressive, at the moment Canonical has offices in the USA, England, Canada and Taiwan, as well as an office at the place of incorporation of the company in the Isle of Man. By the way, why the Isle of Man?

DA: Main current residence of Mark Isle of Man. In my opinion, it is logical that the company is registered there, is not it? In general, the Isle of Man is an interesting place, both geographically and historically, and politically. At the same time, Canonical can hardly be considered a large company. Swipe? it is rather the effect of the fact that the geography of activities covers the whole world: the provision of technical support, communication with OEM manufacturers, developers. The real scope is that a huge community of people outside the company works with Canonical projects, who appreciated the flexibility of the provided solutions for working on opensource projects, as well as Ubuntu, as a powerful platform for implementing their ideas.

SG: The Ubuntu operating system has several different versions, please describe each of them.

DA: Initially, only the universal desktop version Desktop was released. Then, with the development of the distribution kit, a server (Server) edition appeared, which allowed many system administrators to harmoniously complement the working on personal computers of system employees with corresponding server solutions with support for the latest technologies. In recent years, so-called netbooks have become particularly popular, the purpose of which, and their technical parameters, have forced developers to think about system optimization. As a result, a special (Netbook) version of the Ubuntu distribution was released. The main features of the version for netbooks - cost-effectiveness, convenience and speed of connection to various networks, optimization for work on a small screen.

SG: In addition, the desktop distribution of Ubuntu has several other varieties, such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Edubuntu, and less well-known Gobuntu, Mythbuntu, and so on. Tell us about these editors of Ubuntu, what are their differences and why they are needed.

DA: Yes, indeed, the basic version of the Ubuntu distribution is developed and thoroughly tested with the GNOME user environment. At the same time, for many users, it is more appropriate for other environments This is mainly KDE, as well as XFCE or LXDE. Here we must understand that Linux distributions are software bundles that include the OS kernel, system environment, user environment, and application programs. Thus, you can modify these kits, creating different versions of the distribution for specific needs. At the same time on the working system can be simultaneously installed different kits. This is amazing flexibility. This is what we love in Linux.

So, Kubuntu is a Ubuntu distribution with KDE user environment. Xubuntu and Lubuntu use XFCE and LXDE, respectively, this is a "lightweight" shell for computers with low productivity. Orientation Ubuntu for specific tasks was made possible by changing the sets of application software. So did the Edubuntu distribution kit for educational institutions, Mythbuntu entertainment media center, Ubuntu Studio? distribution for creativity. There are still many versions and variants of the system, which are created by teams of enthusiasts and commercial companies for their own needs.

SG: All versions of Ubuntu are free, so the question arises, what and how does Canonical earn, because programmers are people too, they want to eat and their families too.

DA: The company's main income now is to provide technical support, work with OEM, as well as a number of new services: a paid extension for Ubuntu One remote storage and a music store, available there. The company's management considers the chosen way of monetization to be true and continues primarily the development of the Ubuntu project, as the main trump card for attracting customers to their paid services. However, as far as I know, at present the company has not yet arrived at a profit, although it is much closer to this. Thus, while the company is sponsored by Mark Shuttleworth himself. The company's staff receives a salary, which means that programmers and managers have something to eat, do not worry!

S.G .: How often do Ubuntu updates come out? Are these updates regular or does it all depend on the mood of the developers?

DA: The model for developing open projects often leads to the fact that programs are rapidly evolving, changing. Often there is a change of "leader" in a particular class of user applications. In open programs, errors are detected and corrected more successfully. This leads to the need for frequent software updates that are installed as part of the system. Work on supported systems is ongoing. Security updates are released for Ubuntu very quickly and as often as required. However, within the framework of one release, upgrading of software versions is usually not done for the sake of compatibility and according to the golden rule of administration: “work - do not touch”. Every six months, new versions of Ubuntu distributions come out. This is necessary to update the new versions of the entire software package in the distribution, to introduce innovations, to sharpen various aspects of the system, to integrate the latest technologies. Releases are numbered according to the rule “2 digits of the year, period, month”, the current version is 10.04, the next 10.10 will be released in October.

S.G .: Of course, I myself am aware of the system update schedule, as I am a fan of this OS, but I asked this question, because most users have the opinion that all Linux distributions are distributions built “on the knee”. That they can’t be trusted and someday the time will come that the developers will abandon “their toy” and we will stay at the “trough”.

DA: First, Ubuntu is supported by a commercial company. This business and the current state of affairs speaks about the growing popularity of the system and services, about the good future of this direction. Canonical, as well as other commercial sponsors of Linux distributions, guarantees its users that releases will be supported for a certain time (at least 1.5 years for desktop systems and up to 5 years for LTS versions of the server edition). In addition, special attention is paid to the issue of simple automatic migration to new versions. So, only those who do not want to keep up with the progress in the field of opensource provided by Canonical and thousands of developers all over the world can remain “at the broken trough”. Connect to the network, install free security updates available to you, upgrade to new versions of the distribution package for free, and you will always have all the best from the world of open source software. And to be at the forefront of progress is great and inspiring!

SG: Tell me, is Ubuntu a self-contained and mature system, and can it really compete with Windows?

DA.: In short, yes. As a system, Ubuntu does an excellent job with its tasks. In addition, immediately after installing the distribution, you can usually perform the overwhelming number of daily actions of the PC user. Work in the Internet, mail, office documents, solitaire. Usually, problems arise at the very moment when you have to deal with the world of Windows. Specific application software, protocols for interaction with services, file formats. You have no idea how much effort open-source developers have to spend in order to open the “windows” ... But here, too, there are already very impressive results. There are fewer and fewer problems.

SG: You know, sometimes it seems to me that Ubuntu lacks any trifles and thoughtfulness for competing with Windows, for example, “normal” and usual names. It is too much so to say "technical slang". For example, during the installation of the package or updates, the phrase of the plan “Trigger setting is underway ...” seems to lead ordinary users to some bewilderment that the system is said to be for techies. Maybe it makes sense to stick to the names that are familiar and understandable to most users?

DA.: You know, here again, rather, the problem is not so much in the "technicality" of slang, as in its difference from the one already used in that very different system. Although, in fact, there is a problem and certain efforts are being made to solve it. Mark has now shifted from his position as a company manager towards an architect or, if you like, a designer. A team of professional designers was formed who are working on developing the concepts of a more convenient and understandable user environment for Ubuntu. For the second year in a row, the action “100 paper cuts” takes place, where, together with the users, those minor issues that are actually spoiling the impression of working with the system are searched for and fixed. There are already results and a lot more to do.

S.G .: By the way, the impression is created from the side that Ubuntu is trying in every way to make a kind of clone of Mac OS X. If so, what's the point?

DA: There really is a similarity. But there is no special intent to copy the interface of a particular OS. Just as part of the task of improving, simplifying, enhancing the intuitiveness of the interface, we have to analyze and try on the best solutions already created, trying to go further. It is in this state that the work on improving the interface in Ubuntu is located. In my opinion, Linux has never been so beautiful and comfortable as it is now. But the work is still underway!

SG: On October 10, a new release of Ubuntu 10.10 will be released, what can we all expect from this release?

DA.: At a minimum, each new release is, as I said, an update of the versions of all software that is included in the system. And this brings both error correction and a portion of new features and functions. For example, a kernel update will expand the range of supported hardware. In addition, the design and software package will be updated, which will be installed by default. In preparation for the previous release, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, which is a release with long-term support and should therefore be the most stable, the development team had to “hold onto” a number of changes. These innovations will be gradually introduced in 10.10 and subsequent releases. Already announced changes in the interface options for netbooks: the shell "Unity", and it was announced the launch of the project "Light"? lightweight version of Ubuntu for ultra-fast launch and work out and before the main operating system. This, of course, not all changes. Stay tuned for more news and details.

SG: Dmitry, now let's talk about our community and you. When was the first time you met Ubuntu, and how did you get the idea to create a community of Russian-speaking users of Ubuntu.ru?

DA: It is impossible to create a community, it is formed itself where there is a reason and interest. So, having appeared in 2004, the Ubuntu distribution has become such a center of attraction and community formation. At the beginning of 2005, a domain was registered and a Russian-language forum was opened. Just as a reflection of the fact of the emergence of a community that is growing and developing to this day. I started using Ubuntu in 2006, and in 2007 I joined the support team for Ubuntu.ru resources. Somehow it happened that after a while I became the coordinator of our team. Probably, I had the most free time.

SG: For the second year in a row, you receive a certificate from the current LoCo team. Tell us what is LoCo, what is this certificate and what advantages does it give you?

DA: From the very beginning of working on the Ubuntu project, Canonical realized that an important part of open source projects was the community. These are not only users and potential subscribers of paid services. Community? this is a feedback, a generator of ideas, a source of development and a “litmus test” that determines the correctness of the chosen directions of movement. In fact, all system component developers, translators, people reporting bugs are all also part of the community.

In order to support the community, the Local Commands Institute (LoCo) was introduced in Ubuntu. These are groups of enthusiasts who promote Ubuntu in their cities and countries, organize events, distribute CDs with the system and help newbies get comfortable. In large areas, such as the United States and Russia, there are global teams that support local activist groups. Such a team is our Russian Ubuntu LoCo Team.
Every 2 years there is a process of re-certification of teams, consideration of their activities and results of work. Approved status (Approved LoCo Team) is a recognition of the merits of all people from our team who help develop the project, this trust to use Canonical trademarks in the work of our resources, this is the official status of community support resources, this is a certain responsibility both to the company and in front of users who expect a certain level of support on our resources. In addition, at the local level, it is the active teams that receive more attention with the support for organizing events, sending out discs and handouts.

SG: How many active users currently have a Ubuntu.ru portal.

DA: It’s quite difficult to name exact figures, we have several tens of thousands of registered users who constantly visit our resources. In addition, hundreds of thousands of visitors monthly browsing 2-3 million pages. We do not hide the information, registration is not required for access. So we can say that our user base at least amounts to several hundred thousand Russian-speaking computer owners around the world who are interested in Ubuntu, have already installed the system or plan to do it.

S.G .: What is useful on the portal for a simple user?

DA: Information, news, but most importantly support. If anyone has questions on any aspects of the system, then you can find the answer through a search or ask a question in the appropriate section of the forum. Quickly solve the problem will help in the IRC or Jabber chat. More fundamental descriptions and documentation can be found in our reference wiki. In addition, people with similar interests will always find topics for discussion, and not necessarily computer-related.

SG: And what does your team generally do for the Ubuntu OS and what can a simple user do to be useful to the community?

DA: The Russian translation team does perhaps the most visible work. This is something that everyone who uses Russian as the language of the system will certainly encounter. Editors have issued a large number of articles in our Russian-language documentation. Periodically translations of the Full Circle magazine, as well as the podcast. However, technical support of resources, moderation of the forum and chats, testing and working on system errors is something that we also do daily and often invisibly to most users.

Ordinary users are those who once were not yet users, and tomorrow may become a “guru”. The main thing that you can do to help others: if you know the answer to the question raised on the forum - write. Report to moderators if rules and norms of behavior are violated somewhere.If you find a mistake in the translation or in the system? report them. If you are able to do something and want to help our team, look at the special page where we are looking for help. If you have ideas, share them. All this will help make the system and our resources better and more useful. Make the Ubuntu distribution and the community as we all want them to be.

SG: Dmitry, thanks for the interview, I wish you and the Ubuntu OS all the best!

You can read this and other materials in the new September issue of Web Analytics.INFO .

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/103553/

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