Linked by Amjith Ramanujam on Sun 21st Sep 2008 06:46 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Linux Greg KH, Linux kernel developer delivered a keynote in the Linux plumbing conference about the health of the ecosystem. His message was essentially that distributions that don't contribute to the ecosystem have to rely on the whims of others which is unhealthy for them. Here is an introduction the development model and some interesting statistics about the Linux kernel code. Update by TH: Rebuttals are appearing all over the web, like this one by Canonical's Matt Zimmerman ("He's refuting a claim which has, quite simply, never been made. [...] When this sort of thing happens on mailing lists, it's called trolling."), or this one by another Canonical employee, Dustin Kirkland.
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by da_Chicken on Sun 21st Sep 2008 12:30 UTC
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Greg KH shows some statistics of Canonical's actual contributions. The two rebuttals from Canonical employees suggest that Ubuntu developers don't like what those statistics tell. If those numbers are incorrect, then Canonical clearly needs to provide more accurate statistics. But do the rebuttals really refute the numbers presented in the keynote?

Matt Zimmerman writes that Greg KH's figures are wrong. But what Zimmerman actually says is that the figures in Greg KH's earlier "Google tech talk in June 2008" were wrong. However, Zimmerman agrees that the figures in the current keynote are actually more or less correct. So, the only factual inaccuracy that Zimmerman is able to point out in the keynote concerns Greg KH's claim that Canonical hasn't been contributing to binutils at all. Zimmerman refutes this by telling that a Canonical employee has actually contributed one patch to binutils.

Dustin Kirkland's rebuttal doesn't try to challenge Greg KH's statistics. Instead, he points out that Canonical is a small company with little resources. Then he suggests that the motivation behind Greg KH's keynote was jealousy of Ubuntu's popularity. Kirkland also suggests that many first time Linux users would have never heard of Linux if Ubuntu didn't exist. This kind of claims are, of course, impossible to prove.

Kirkland also writes that "Canonical and Ubuntu actively contribute to GNOME and KDE, as well as dozens of other open source projects". However, he doesn't back up this claim with numbers, like Greg KH does in his keynote.

Less than two years ago a core Ubuntu developer Scott James Remnant wrote in his blog: "we have a policy of not doing our own software development, but only packaging what others have developed".[1] I'd expect that Ubuntu's development policy might have changed since then, but this policy (that appears to have still existed two years ago) might help to explain why Greg KH's statistics show such a small number of contributions from Canonical.

If Greg KH's statistics are correct and if Canonical thinks these statistics make Ubuntu look bad, then perhaps Canonical should figure out ways to contribute more, instead of writing rebuttals and living in denial?


Edited 2008-09-21 12:32 UTC

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