Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

Summary: Something tells me users are going to be learning some interesting Italian gestures to use in reference to their software. You know which ones.

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TOPICS: Open Source, Oracle
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Like a President having to talk about anchor babies or mosques when he would rather talk about education and the economy, Mark Shuttleworth had his launch of Ubuntu 10.10 hijacked by the Oracle suit.

We had a good excuse, however. Ubuntu 10.10 will support multitouch, the technology at the heart of another lawsuit, the one Apple filed against HTC over its inclusion in Android. Software patents are not legal in Europe, where Ubuntu developer Canonical is based.

Shuttleworth may argue now that Ubuntu's implementation will be far more sophisticated than what Apple uses on the iPhone, a touch language that could resemble computing commands in their complexity.

Apple may claim a patent on its mousetrap, but can it claim to control all methods for catching mice?

On the Canonical blog all this is referenced as uTouch 1.0, a multitouch and gesture "stack" that will include a gesture recognition engine and an API. The post said the work began with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. Several prototypes are already being tested.

The move to multitouch, however, brings up other questions:

  • What devices is Ubuntu now designed for? Am I supposed to poke my fingers onto a flat screen and use a keyboard at the same time?
  • Is the mouse now dead?
  • So is Ubuntu abandoning the desktop, or laptop market? Will mine be the last keyboard standing?
  • What does this have to do with Ubuntu's perceived strength, as a server system?

In his blog post Shuttleworth insisted multitouch can be as useful on a desktop as well as on a phone or tablet. The code will be published on Launchpad under the GPLv3 and LGPLv3.

Rather than single, magic gestures, we’re making it possible for basic gestures to be chained, or composed, into more sophisticated “sentences”. The basic gestures, or primitives, are like individual verbs, and stringing them together allows for richer interactions. It’s not quite the difference between banging rocks together and conducting a symphony orchestra, but it feels like a good step in the right direction

Still, I'm writing this story leaning back in a chair, a screen over a yard from me, two arm lengths away. Unless you can let me make gestures in the air it's not happening. Unless, of course, I change my relationship to the device.

Alternatively I could replace my mouse with a multitouch pad, connected via a USB port. Even then I would have to match my actions on the pad to what is happening on the screen. This is beginning to feel less like a step up and more like the first requirements of a new skill set.

Something tells me users are going to be learning some interesting Italian gestures to use in reference to their software.

You know which ones.

Topics: Open Source, Oracle

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17 comments
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  • A few minutes with Android touch ...

    After a few minutes playing with Android touch all I can say is if touch really catches on, invest in microfiber cleaning cloth futures.
    wkulecz
    • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

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      musdahi
  • IMO this is aimed at devices...

    ...that will be similar to the iPad but running a full (or as someone on another comment section pointed out) Remixed version of Ubuntu. A device that has no physical keyboard or mouse by default and where the primary input is by touch screen.

    In other words I think this will be for Linux equivalents of iPads.

    Something I'd be very interested in, but I'd probably lean more towards Android tablet rather than a Ubuntu one (and still have the warm fuzzy feeling of a Linux Kernel at the heart of the device).
    DevJonny
    • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

      @DevJonny Hmm... Maybe, but I think I'd prefer Ubuntu to Android (assuming the device is more like a Tablet PC than an iPad - and I only need one iPad <wink>). Ubuntu has spawned more variants and a "Multitouch" version of the NetBook respin might be very nice indeed (though I'd probably want a "convertible" as I already have an iPad - and see no reason I'd wish to replace it with something else).
      Jeremy-UK
      • I'd agree with you...

        @Jeremy-UK ...that if the device was a Tablet PC w/ Physical Keyboard (doing PC type tasks) rather than a iPad-like device then a Remix of Ubuntu would be a better choice as it's a mature desktop OS.

        But if it was more iPad-ish (which was what I meant when I said Tablet, which begs the question, what type of device is the iPad?) then I'd prefer Android.
        DevJonny
  • Again FOSS beat M$ and apple to the punch

    M$ and apple should start their copiers!
    Linux Geek
    • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

      @Linux Geek Ah irony! Actually I think as a "set of technologies" this might spur some actual innovation as they don't NEED to be implemented in a way that is at all like the iPad (or *shudder* Tablet PC). Perhaps an interface for a device that lacks a screen?
      Jeremy-UK
      • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

        @Jeremy-UK I've been thinking along the same lines. Couldn't you build an API that would let a mouse-like peripheral apply this stuff to Windows PCs? And wouldn't that product then deliver cash to Ubuntu in the form of licensing fees? And couldn't it be mass produced in China for the price of a mouse?
        DanaBlankenhorn
      • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

        @DanaBlankenhorn
        "I've been thinking along the same lines. Couldn't you build an API that would let a mouse-like peripheral apply this stuff to Windows PCs? And wouldn't that product then deliver cash to Ubuntu in the form of licensing fees? And couldn't it be mass produced in China for the price of a mouse? "

        Actually, several Wacom tablets (in the drawing tablet sense not PC form factor) can already be used as multi-touch mouse replacements for windows PCs. The Bamboo touch is a touch input only device from Wacom that currently is selling for $40 on Amazon and does the whole multi-touch gesture thing. The Bamboo Pen & Touch does the same thing, but is also a drawing tablet and sells for about $70-$90 on Amazon depending on sales. These work fine on Windows 7, I own the Pen & Touch.

        http://www.amazon.com/Wacom-CTT460-Bamboo-Touch-Tablet/dp/B002OOWC38/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1282235363&sr=8-1
        Rabayn
    • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

      @Linux Geek MS and Apple already have Multitouch, why do you believe that FOSS beat anyone to the punch; FOSS is usually the copier, not the innovator.
      balsover
  • Users already know those gestrues

    and have since the launch of MS-DOS
    jcbick
    • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

      @jcbick Yes, but doing them in the right way and in the right order has always been a problem, since the days of CP/M.

      I was actually thinking of showing another gesture but this is a family blog.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • RE: Get used to it -- AEE that is...

        @DanaBlankenhorn: You, 'Junger Mann', and all you other guys should stop larkin' about it. Take a look at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Specs/AndroidExecutionEnvironment.

        'An envionment allowing for experimentation with the Android user interface, and execution of Android-targeted applications will be made available for use in Ubuntu.'

        //S
        scallag
  • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

    It's getting to the point where these law suits will really be a proble. 2 companies can come out with different variations of multitouch. The code will be different. But there only so many ways you can rotate or drag something on the screen and make it look obvious [i.e. dragging movement won't be to pinch].
    Gis Bun
    • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

      @Gis Bun This is why software patents and business method patents are stupid. And it's why I'm angry with the Supreme Court for not ruling on the matter.

      Heck, if they ruled them all legal we could deal with it -- either in our actions or through legislation. If they ruled in the obvious way the problem would be solved.

      Fact is they punted. And that's a dereliction of duty as serious as anything Congress or any President has ever done.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

    @Dana Blankenhorn
    "Alternatively I could replace my mouse with a multitouch pad, connected via a USB port."

    Bluetooth trackpad. For the future, with 3D gestures, a similarly bluetooth-attached device using theremin technology.
    K_Green
  • RE: Oracle suit overwhelms Ubuntu launch

    Personally, I would like to see something along the lines of Xbox Kinect applied to the PC: Don't make me touch but understand my gestures, my voice and such. It overcomes a lot of issues, including reach to the monitor, smudges, etc, and bring voice command to the party (which is already quite good in 7, actually).
    BrianTX