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12-year-old revives Unity desktop, develops software repo client, builds gaming environment for Ubuntu...
If you don't already feel enough of an under-achiever, read on
There are some interesting developments to keep an eye on in the world of Ubuntu: a new client for the community software repo, a tool to help Ubuntu gamers – and Rudra Saraswat, the 12-year-old brains behind them.
He announced Una on 1 February. It's a client to simplify installing software from the MPR, or Makedeb Package Repository, a new home for community-contributed software analogous to Arch Linux's AUR.
He also created Gamebuntu, which he describes as "an app that helps to set up a complete environment for gaming on Ubuntu without any other tweaks."
Saraswat's presenting a talk on it at the Ubuntu stand at this weekend's virtual FOSDEM conference.
In addition, he built several Ubuntu remixes: Ubuntu Unity, which puts back the Unity desktop that Canonical launched back in 2011, and Ubuntu Web, which is a ChromeOS-like remix based around web apps from the /e/ Foundation and has the ability to run Android apps.
If you fancy trying to remix Ubuntu yourself, he maintains an Ubuntu Remixes repo that you can fork to get started.
Ubuntu used to offer an official remix called Edubuntu, which bundled various educational apps for kids. Since that was discontinued a while back, Saraswat has started UbuntuEd to replace it.
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The UBPorts community is still developing Unity 8, the descendant of Unity aimed at mobile devices, but sadly the desktop equivalent, YUnit, has gone quiet and its domain is for sale. In an effort to rectify this, Saraswat is also working on UnityX.
As we discussed recently, a source of concern regarding Ubuntu's Snap format is that there's only one Snap Store. As a proof of concept, Saraswat has built one of his own, called lol.
The software is quite new, and the mind behind it is relatively new, too. Your reporter was very fond of Unity and is glad to see it return, but Saraswat built it because he liked it rather than out of nostalgia – because back when Ubuntu released Unity, he was two, and he is still at school now. But in between homework, he keeps remarkably busy.
The Reg asked him how he found the time.
He told us: "I'm in Grade 7 and my mom is quite serious about my studies, so as long as I get good grades… she doesn't mind me working on these projects. In fact, she supports me."
We suspect you won't be surprised to learn that he does indeed get top grades. But you might be surprised by how much time he spends on some of the software development.
"In fact, I remember I had made Ubuntu Unity just before my school exams and my mom allowed me just about two hours or so, because I told her that I wanted to make something really cool. But I had to study for my exams which were starting three days later.
"So I made and released the first beta of Ubuntu Unity in those two hours, and two days later it got featured on Forbes. That's when she realised that I had done something big."
She's not wrong. ®