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

Reply Score: 12

RE: Rebuttals
by KAMiKAZOW on Sun 21st Sep 2008 13:01 in reply to "Rebuttals"
KAMiKAZOW Member since:

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

Of course he doesn't, because he knows that Ubuntu/Cannonical is obviously not the only distributor that contributes to KDE and GNOME. I compared in another posting the number of contributors to KDE from Cannonical and Novell. Cannonical has 3, maybe 4, and Novell has 18. Nokia/Trolltech also sponsors several KDE developers, not to mention all those people who work on Qt.
I don't know how many KDE developers are employed by Mandriva.
I'm not following the GNOME development closely, but it seems to me that the majority of contributions come from Red Hat. GTK is currently mostly in the hands of Imendio. See

As I said before: I'm not bashing Cannonical. I think every contribution is great no matter how small or big it is.
Having Cannonical among the FOSS sponsors is great. Cannonical employees just shouldn't pissed when somebody compares their team to another team.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Rebuttals
by AdamW on Sun 21st Sep 2008 17:46 in reply to "RE: Rebuttals"
AdamW Member since:

"I don't know how many KDE developers are employed by Mandriva."

For the record, I believe it's three. But then we have a far smaller budget than Canonical.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Rebuttals
by anda_skoa on Sun 21st Sep 2008 13:05 in reply to "Rebuttals"
anda_skoa Member since:

But do the rebuttals really refute the numbers presented in the keynote?

No, but I don't think this has ever been the goal.

All of this is a classic flamewar pattern. We used to get them via NNTP but since blogs are the new usenet we get them via HTTP instead.

Greg could have just corrected the numbers of his Google Tech Talk and could have still pointed out where this puts Canonical relative to others.
However stomping on Canonical at every single data point is IMHO clearly just meant as flamebait.

On the other side the "rebutals" could have just pointed out which areas Canonical and Ubuntu can probably easily found among the top ten contributors instead of personally attacking Greg (pretty certainly everybody reading the slides knows that he is working for Novell and definitely all who attended the conference) or hiding behind excuses (if amount of contribution would be directly correlated to number of employees or profit. Debian and Gentoo wouldn't be at better positions).

We can of course still hope for a real rebutal, e.g. someone ignoring the flamebait and just listing which project's Canonical in particular or Ubuntu in general are highly involved in.
Probably not at the same level of the software stack that Greg used but maybe higher up, since any level of the stack is important for the whole anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 2