Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth claim's Bug 1 solved, thanks to iOS and Android

By Michael Mayday , Jun 03, 2013 08:05 AM EDT

Ubuntu, a free open-source Linux-based operating system, had a mission when it launched nine years ago, and that was to rid the world of Bug #1 - Microsoft's majority market share.

Now, according to Ubuntu's founder, Mark Shuttleworth, that bug is happily closed with Ubuntu playing little to no part in solving it.

Credit for solving Bug 1, Shuttleworth argues, belongs to Apple and Google, thanks largely to their mobile operating system, iOS and Android, respectively. That's because Shuttleworth believes that most computing is done over smartphones and tablets today, leaving Microsoft's Windows operating systems in the dust.

"Android may not be my or your first choice of Linux, but it is without doubt an open source platform that offers both practical and economic benefits to users and industry. So we have both competition, and good representation for open source, in personal computing," Shuttleworth said in a blog post on Friday. "Even though we have only played a small part in that shift, I think it's important for us to recognize that the shift has taken place. So from Ubuntu's perspective, this bug is now closed."

But not every open-source advocate agrees with Shuttleworth. Bradley Kuhn, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, an organization advocating for the promotion and use of free software over proprietary technology, said a more accurate description of Bug 1 would be "Can't Fix," because the original language of the bug stated that the majority of PCs for sale ought to include free software only.

"Note that *even if* we count Android/Linux, and also count every type of device like mobile phones and tables, nearly all of those devices -- even those running Android/Linux or Ubuntu -- include proprietary software," Kuhn said in a post. "It'll probably be generations before we close that bug, and that's why I'd argue the problem probably can't be fixed as part of the lifecycle of Ubuntu itself."

And if we're to include the open-source ethos of Ubuntu and its advocates, then saying iOS and OSX helped to solve Bug 1 poses its own problems. After all, Apple's operating systems are notoriously closed to outsiders. And Apple, like Microsoft and Android, stands to make a great deal of money by selling access to its operating systems. Suggesting that Apple is a sign of progress for could spell trouble for free and open-source advocates.

But it appears that Shuttleworth isn't too troubled by Apple's stance on software. Perhaps that's because he's pushing his company, Canonical, to adapt Ubuntu to smartphones and tablets. Perhaps, if Ubuntu's mobile offering takes off, Shuttleworth will finally see his open-source utopia.

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