If there's an upside to the Debian community's recent attacks on Ubuntu and Mark Shuttleworth it's that there'll be more conversation between engineers on the two distros.
That's according to Ubuntu founder Shuttlworth, who believes engineers on major subsystems are now in a better position to talk, which will lead to greater co-ordination in the long term - if not in time for the next releases of Debian and Ubuntu.
Shuttleworth noted the Debian project leaders' decision to agree to freeze the distro - the basis of Ubuntu - this December and every two years, produced "near panic" in the broad Debian community.
"Panic" is one word. Debian community members reacted angrily and slammed Ubuntu and Shuttleworth personally for using Debian to further their own commercial interests.
Such was the response, Debian leaders completely reversed their decision to freeze the project this December within 24-hours, having initially warmly welcomed the idea.
Co-ordination, though, is a long-term issue for Shuttleworth. He believes in greater "cadence" between Linux distributions and free software projects along "meta cycles" to help design, quality and delivery against a common foe: Microsoft and Windows.
While community members bicker, Microsoft this month will release Windows 7 that should mark a return to business as usual for the software giant following the desktop delivery and uptake hiatus that was Windows Vista. Shuttleworth called Windows 7 a "wonderful service pack on Vista."
"What's been salvaged from that," Shuttleworth said of the summer flame war, "is to try to have good-quality conversations with the leads of the key subsystems in both Debian and Ubuntu - so things like kernel, X, OpenOffice, Gnome, KDE, the tool chain that define the character of the whole release. So, while we won't have a simultaneous freeze between Debian an Ubuntu for this release we are going to have that process of trying to establish commonalty that will lead to better collaboration and co-ordination and strengthen the overall meta cadence.
"Maybe in four years we'll have Red Hat join us and have the whole free software system in a two-year cycle - it'll be amazing!"
Shuttleworth, meanwhile, plans to take on Window 7 and Microsoft on the server with the Karmic Koala distribution of Ubuntu, due this month, and the follow up Lucid Lynx. Shuttleworth promised a "conservative" approach on the desktop, but said the Lucid Lynx would make further advances in cloud computing to take advantage of the rapidly changing market.
The goal for Karmic Koala is to be able to deploy an Amazon-compliant cloud across five or 10 servers in 15 minutes, and deploy virtualized resources to either a private or public cloud. Lucid Lynx will see a "significant amount of evolution", Shuttleworth promised. "The cloud stuff is moving so fast it would be inappropriate to lock that down."
Shuttlworth was speaking during in an interview with Dell cloud computing evangelist Barton George in Austin, Texas, last month. You can get the full Shuttleworth experience here. ®