The importance of apps in Ubuntu

Jono blogged about the importance of application developers to Ubuntu earlier and I wanted to echo some thoughts and add some of my own.

I have been in the Ubuntu Developer camp for most of Ubuntu’s life as a project, so the mindset of “App developers? Why don’t they just set up an open source project and get it packaged?” or “Apps? We have packages.” is what I have heard a couple of times already and is what I would probably have answered some years ago myself.

The power of the Open Source community and having open projects is immense. We all have seen it many times: a thought, a great idea, some dedicated contributors, good communication and a friendly community can achieve amazing things. This happens every single day.

We are well aware of how things work in the Open Source world and we have recently seen the success of our great work: millions of users, who have never dabbled in Open Source before, today enjoy Ubuntu (or other pieces of Free Software) and rely on it. We have managed to reach out to an entirely new demographic and continue to grow our user base.

With new demographics there are new expectations and new responsibilities. Consider my father for example. He follows what’s going on in the Ubuntu world, but will occasionally point out to me that an app he’s interested in buying does not exist for Ubuntu. The last I remember him talking about was a good language learning course.

With new form factors and devices running Ubuntu (you know, TVs, tablets, phones, watches, cars, coffee machines, hoverboards and the like), there are going to be thousands of useful helper tools out there which might not be available for Ubuntu yet. Add to that the growing number of content providers (magazines, books, maps, music, etc.) which users yet can’t easily get “for Ubuntu”.

This is the world we are looking at today and it becomes obvious that apps should be a first-class citizen in Ubuntu. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for making everyone who shows the slightest interest in working on Ubuntu itself an Ubuntu developer and member of our community, also because I feel that everyone who is part of this has a lot to gain, personally and for their particular project. It just shouldn’t be a strict requirement because it won’t scale.

A number of teams have been working very hard on making seamless apps in Ubuntu a reality and that’s just great to see. It’s a hard problem to solve because it involves so many different important pieces. Keep up the good work everyone!

At UDS I’m definitely going to (among other sessions, I’ll blog about later on) attend these sessions to see what we can do about making apps in Ubuntu more exciting and something that just works:

Hope to see you there!