Ubuntu, coming to a drone near you

I just read David Meyer’s article, “Robots embrace Ubuntu as it invades the internet of things” on gigaom.com. It describes Canonical’s continued progress in the device space.

I’ve used Ubuntu as my desktop system for many years now, and I genuinely like it as an environment. I don’t use their Unity interface, but my daughter does. (My wife uses classic GNOME and I use a Cairo-GNOME hybrid.

Of course, drones, phones, fridges and other “black box” sorts of devices don’t use desktops. They deal with the underlying core of operations where it gets pretty ugly. That’s where I like Ubuntu as a base. One of my favorite aspects of Ubuntu, and why I tend to install it first for friends and family, is it’s usage of Debian package system. This package system is pretty resilient and does a great job of pulling together requirements for you. I install something and the system automatically says “Hey! You need all this other stuff to make that run. Do you want to install that too?” It also does a good job of cleaning up after itself, removing things that are no longer needed.

Ubuntu enhances this by having a good, reliable set of repositories, including commercial partners. They make it easy to turn off anything that is intellectually encumbered if your goal is to have a more open system. They also make it easy to add new repositories so you can keep up with your favorite packages that have not been included in their official list. It’s automation has been good. When I set up a system for a non-techie person and tell it to keep itself up to date, it generally does a good job of it on its own.

Now, I know that these kinds of things are all human conveniences, and that the needs of a drone or other device will be different. But just like Alamo Drafthouse has tapped into what I enjoy about seeing movies, Canonical has tapped into what I enjoy most about using my computer. I’m confident that this understanding will translate well into other areas and that having devices, desktops and servers that share that base will create some good benefits. I wish them well.

All that said, Linux is Linux. Any devices running it, no matter what flavor, is a good thing.

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