Joint releases to jolt open source: Shuttleworth

Open source projects need to make a splash

Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth has declared more publicity would be generated for open source software if the three large desktop projects of KDE, GNOME, and OpenOffice.org agreed on a common and regular release cycle.

During his keynote address at this year's aKademy KDE conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Shuttleworth suggested that KDE move to a more predictable, preferably six-month, release schedule.

The rhythm and beat of publicity, according to Shuttleworth, would be a frightening prospect for proprietary competition.

KDE's blog editors said the comments "certainly prompted heated discussion, which is still going on".

With a significant release coming in the form of KDE 4 later this year, the KDE project is committing to a six-month release cycle but "who knows what the exciting future will bring", say the project's contributors.

Ubuntu Linux has become renowned for delivering a new version of its operating system every six months, a schedule which resulted in a lot of publicity for it in April with the release of 7.04 "Feisty Fawn".

In his presentation titled "13 Lessons for the Free Desktop", Shuttleworth spoke about the top challenges for the free desktop - from look and feel to licensing and collaboration.

He said differences in packaging open source software, while once meaningful, should now be consistent as differences are just barriers to broader adoption of the free desktop and lead to a lot of duplication and useless work.

With a new generation of mobile phones emerging, Shuttleworth believes interoperability with the latest digital cameras and multimedia devices is becoming more important.

Other emerging technologies the free desktop should foster are sensory immersion, real-time cooperation, and the 3D experience.

Shuttleworth also spoke about the challenge of keeping free software really "free".

He said he is highly committed to this freedom, both in the "gratis" and "libre" senses, and free software should be too.

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Rodney Gedda

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