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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It puzzles me to see Greg Kroah-Hartman attack Canonical the way he does and makes me ask what his motivations may really be.

Canonical Ltd. is only a very small company that is not even profitable yet, unlike a big old corporation like Novell, Greg Kroah-Hartman's own employer.

Canonical's main focus is sponsoring Ubuntu and also offering some customer support for it. Other things done at Canonical are just extra. A small new company has to have a clear focus like that. I bet many other small companies sponsoring Linux distribution development (not to mention if they are not even profitable yet) do not yet send in that many kernel patches either.

On the other hand, Ubuntu as a community is rather big. Quite a big portion of Ubuntu developers do not work at Canonical. Ubuntu is only partly a commercial distribution. By keeping Ubuntu open Canonical is able to leverage the talents of outside developers willing to contribute rather than having to do all development within the company itself.

It is not right to say that Ubuntu would be the same as Canonical Ltd. This may be the cause for some of the misunderstandings regarding Canonical's and Ubuntu's contributions to the Linux ecosystem.

According to a study approximately 30% of desktop Linux installations run Ubuntu. It is safe to say that it is about the same on developer desktops too.

According to another study, the one referred by Greg Kroah-Hartman, the biggest group of kernel and gcc contributors are what he calls "amateurs", that is, those who are not directly working at some commercial company. Now, how many of those people may be running Ubuntu Linux, and are thus, in a way, Ubuntu developers too? 30% maybe? Something that Greg Kroah-Hartman again forgets (like also the role of Debian project as the mother project of Ubuntu, or the role of Linux desktop environments in the Linux ecosystem, and where Ubuntu's contributions are strongest) as it doesn't seem to suit his scheme of downplaying the role of Ubuntu and Canonical in the Linux ecosystem and praising (at least between the lines) the role of Novell, his own employer in it?

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irbis Member since:

According to a study approximately 30% of desktop Linux installations run Ubuntu.

Well, that figure may be too high(?), but that's not the point. Whether the actual percentage is a bit lower or not, the figure certainly gives you an idea why many commercial Linux distributors may have gotten jealous and afraid of Ubuntu maybe eating their bread...

Also, because of its huge popularity, Ubuntu must run on quite many developer desktops too - although it may be impossible to give accurate numbers. One has to draw the conclusion that quite many kernel, or GCC developers must be running Ubuntu on their developer desktops too. In a way you could say that they are Ubuntu developers too, as Ubuntu is also a community project. That community aspect is something that you may forget if you look at the Linux ecosystem from a corporate and business point of view only.

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apoclypse Member since:

That is a very valid and good point. let me point out an example. When Compiz was initially released, who do you think was the first community to extend (despite DR's objections) and package the project. Within a month the project was being packaged, hacked and tested on Ubuntu under Quinnstorm and friends. They were all Ubuntu users. Ofcourse later on they botched the whole thing when they forked into Beryl, but now that project is back in the fold and is now known as compiz-fusion. I can give you plenty of examples just like this one. So while Canonical as a company may not have a lot of contributions, the community as vast as it is has contributed to many projects.

Reply Parent Score: 2