I haven't seen a story of this week's best demo posted on Planet yet, so let me be the first to do so.
This week, Mark Shuttleworth and a bunch of fine Ubuntu and Canonical folks were in Paris for the OpenStack Developer Summit. I know what some of you might be thinking. "So what, Randall. What's that got to do with Ubuntu? And by the way, clouds are hype anyways! I'm going to fill your comments engine with the vitriol that you deserve."
Wait! Please let me explain.
Back before I first got excited about Ubuntu (in the dark ages of the mid 00's) I was a skeptic about Ubuntu too. Admittedly, I used to think "What could Ubuntu possibly offer that [insert random OS here] couldn't?" Then one day it hit me, quite by accident and probably after one-too-many attempts to replace the OS on my computer with something better. Ubuntu was accessible and made no apologies about it. Almost anyone could install and enjoy Ubuntu. It knew no prejudice. It didn't claim or try to be the OS for the 1337's. It respected humans. It gave people an easy on-ramp to a better computing experience. It gave people like you and I a means to make our world (and the world) a little better.
And so, almost 10 years later, here we are again. Except the world has become more complex and so has its problems. More than ever, humans need computers to solve big, important, world-changing problems, or simply to run their businesses and earn a living. But they don't just need one computer (like the old days). They need several, or dozens, or even hundreds of computers all working together. The means by which these computers work together is in this over-hyped term called "the cloud". Think of the cloud as a collection of computers grouped together to solve specific problems in an efficient way. We all can't afford hundreds of computers, but maybe if we all share them intelligently, we can use them to solve our problems without breaking the bank (or the bitcoin.)
So, enter the cloud. It's here. It's needed. And, it works! It's *not* hype. But, there's a problem: Confusion and complexity. Lots of it. To make use of the cloud one has to dive into a bottomless pit of arcane "kernely" "computer-sciency" concepts and commands mixed with a perilous collection of marketing buzzwords and obfuscation. It's brutal.
For the love of humanity, we don't have time for this! People need, want, and deserve a simple on-ramp to get their problems onto the cloud and solved. People need a simple tool and a simple language to describe what they want done.
A few years back, the people behind Ubuntu got involved in a big way in this thing called OpenStack. OpenStack was meant to make sharing lots of computers easier and to do so using tools (operating systems like Ubuntu, languages and technologies) that were open. Early on, the cloud ran the same risk of being all locked up in proprietary knot (just like Bug#1). Judging by the size of the OpenStack community in Paris this week, they made good progress in preventing that bleak outcome. Now more people could use Ubuntu on clouds to solve problems. But, we still couldn't claim that everyone could.
Or could we? Enter Mark, stage left. Enter Juju, stage centre.
Mark, in his predictably excellent style (but with unconventional tactics) gave the demo by enlisting a random (chosen by paper airplane) and uninitiated (never heard of or seen Juju) audience member to set up a "workload" (i.e. a problem to be solved) on OpenStack without any assistance at all. The trick? None. The mechanism? A tool called Juju. Juju is to the cloud what Ubuntu was to arcane and frustrating operating system installs a decade ago. Juju is to the cloud what the graphical user interface (GUI) was to dinosaur operating systems before that. You know the ones... the ones that Dad used, with command lines.
This is the beginning of a new era. With inspiration from Mark, I'm calling this "Ubuntu's Second Act." Lest you think that Ubuntu's story ended when the desktop became democratized once and for all, I encourage you to tune back in and see what it is doing for the cloud.