Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 00:07 UTC, submitted by Jim Lynch
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu How surprised would you be, if I walked up to you and told you that every human needs oxygen to survive? I'm assuming that you wouldn't at all be surprised - you might start feeling a little uneasy that a random stranger walked up to you with such a crazy question, but you wouldn't be surprised by the we-need-oxygen fact. Apparently, people are surprised that Ubuntu is not a democracy.
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Not exactly
by r_a_trip on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 00:49 UTC
r_a_trip
Member since:
2005-07-06

The latest furore is not about Canonical owning Ubuntu, nor Mark S. calling the shots or buttons changing position.

The latest tempest is people realizing (myself included) that they swallowed Canonical's brilliant marketing hook, line and sinker. It seemed too good to be true. A corporation fostering an inclusive community of outside developers and end users alongside of the corporate staff.

Now that Mark S. has pierced the "OMG community, rainbows, ponies and warm fuzzies" from the community illusion with his authoritative statements, a lot of people realize they have duped themselves into believing the marketing ploy.

Such a thing hurts. When you've been with Ubuntu from the Warty days, it means you've been masterfully managed to be a free force of labor for over six years. You've put in effort to push Ubuntu out there out of your own accord. You realise you've helped Ubuntu (however little) gain a sizeable piece of the market based on your naiveté that Ubuntu was somehow different than other commercial distro's.

Being played skillfully to promote and support a bog standard distribution and then have the blinders ripped from your eyes to see it was business as usual all along... That caused a lot of rage and emotional reactions.

To me a wise lesson. If you don't pay for all of it or if you don't code it yourself (which I can't), you don't have any freedom in software whatsoever. The best an end user can do is just pick the one that is the least hassle and which costs you the least.

Take advantage of the fact that most distro's are gratis. Forget about warm fuzzies. The party is by and for programmers. End users are just convenient collateral to gain clout.

Reply Score: 10

RE: Not exactly
by Soulbender on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 01:00 in reply to "Not exactly"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Wow, so much drama.

Being played skillfully to promote and support a bog standard distribution and then have the blinders ripped from your eyes to see it was business as usual all along... That caused a lot of rage and emotional reactions.


Rage and emotional reactions? Seriously? Tried growing up?

The best an end user can do is just pick the one that is the least hassle and which costs you the least.


If you ever thought anything else you're incredibly naive.

The party is by and for programmers. End users are just convenient collateral to gain clout.


If anything, Ubuntu is about the end user and not the devlopers. Just because they don't vote on every single issue doesnt mean it's not about the user experience.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: Not exactly
by r_a_trip on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 01:18 in reply to "RE: Not exactly"
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

Ubuntu is about the end user

No, End Users are what Canonical needs to get at what it really wants. Money.

Business as usual. Yes, I was naive. But I see it very clearly now.

Microsoft, Apple, Red Hat, Mandriva, Canonical, etc. All different shades of the same beast.

The beauty of all this is that I don't owe any vendor any loyalty. They either make what I want or I ditch them. In the case of Canonical, I don't have money invested in them or their products, so it's very easy to just move to something else.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Not exactly
by spikeb on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 02:25 in reply to "Not exactly"
spikeb Member since:
2006-01-18

you should have freedom, even if you can't code.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Not exactly
by r_a_trip on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 10:32 in reply to "RE: Not exactly"
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

you should have freedom, even if you can't code.

What form does that freedom take? If I may ask?

The only big freedom I see is a choice in distributor. As a non-developer, I don't have the necessary skills to effectively integrate the different components and roll my own. (LFS is just a recipe to build the software as provided.)

It is also a matter of time. My life did not take a course towards software development. My skills lie elsewhere. I'm perfectly happy with that and with what I do, so I don't feel that I should expend time to go in the direction of software development. The consequence of that choice is that I am dependent on others for my software.

The Four Freedoms only contain two provisions that affect me directly:

0.) The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.

This is the one that affects me the most and which has made me switch to FOSS. No use restrictions on what I do with the software, provided that the software does what I want.

1.) The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish . Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Freedom 1 is academic to me. I'm not a programmer. I could, in theory, learn how to program, but at 35 I won't rize to the ranks of master and even then, I would probably only be able to zoom in on a minute part of the available software. Influence? None whatsoever.

Even Linus himself chose to leave Gnome, because it didn't do what he wanted and the incumbent developers where in Linus' own words "Interface Nazi's". In theory he could have forked Gnome and maintained his own version. In practise he doesn't have the time as kernel maintainer and family man.

2.) The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.

The possibility does affect me and I like being able to do this in theory, but I haven't really had a lot of people clammoring for a copy of a Linux distro. If someone wants a copy, I'll happily fire up my burner.

3.) The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Again, this only (directly) affects programmers with the skills to make changes. In as far as they can manage the codebase.

I won't claim that FOSS is just as bad as CSS. It isn't. There are a lot of benefits to the licensing. Even the availability of the source code brings indirect benefits to non-programmers.

However, as a non-coder you have to accept what coders put out there and in that respect there is no difference between FOSS and CSS. Theoretical "but you could" arguments don't change that, because in theory we could all be king of the world.

As an end user you can only pick what is out there. Since you don't have control over what is put out there, that power lies with the developers, there is no need to develop warm fuzzies over the software you chose to use. It is provided as is and if it moves in a direction you dont want to go, you can do exactly squat about it. As an end user you only have feet. That is why an end user shouldn't be loyal beyond what is right for that user. Anything else is just fooling yourself you are part of something you simply aren't part of.

When it comes to Canonical's product, it is moving in a direction I don't want to go. So it's so long and thanks for all the fish.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Not exactly
by Symgeosis on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 14:55 in reply to "Not exactly"
Symgeosis Member since:
2005-09-13

Ubuntu has never labeled itself as a "democracy" nor has this ever been kept a secret. From day one, Shuttleworth has been referred to as the "sabdfl" or "self-appointed benevolent dictator for life."

Certain aspects of Ubuntu might be rather democratic but that does not necessarily imply that the design process must be democratic.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Not exactly
by r_a_trip on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 15:26 in reply to "RE: Not exactly"
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

Ubuntu has never labeled itself as a "democracy" nor has this ever been kept a secret. From day one, Shuttleworth has been referred to as the "sabdfl" or "self-appointed benevolent dictator for life."

Certain aspects of Ubuntu might be rather democratic but that does not necessarily imply that the design process must be democratic.


Which is fine. If you've read what I wrote, you'd see that it was naivety on my side to expect more from Canonical. All the community talk was just that; talk. The Ubuntu community is comprised of Canonical's payroll. It was my flawed perception that made me unable to see this.

I don't like where the product Ubuntu is going. Since Canonical is the company calling the shots and end users are things to be ignored, I vote with my feet. Canonical owes me nothing and I owe Canonical nothing.

Thank you, Canonical, for six years of willingly given OS upgrades. Now it is time for me to move on.

Or do you suggest that I am now forever bound to express eternal gratitude to Canonical?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Not exactly - corporate product
by jabbotts on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 16:12 in reply to "Not exactly"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Canonical has made no secret that Ubuntu is a corporate product. There was no years of development on a mysterious community distribution where Canonical suddenly stepped out from behind a curtain waving "jazz hands" and saying "surprise!" It really should be no surprise to anyone when the distribution head for life points out the blatantly obvious.

The real surprise is people blindly ignoring this detail. If you want a more democratically run distribution then stick with the parent; Debian. If you want to contribute to Ubuntu for whatever reason; accept that it's corporate product and get on with it. I don't expect Novell to vett changes with me for Suse. Mandriva isn't calling me for recommendations on PowerPack. Red Hat isn't expected to care about my thoughts on Fedora.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Not exactly
by boldingd on Mon 22nd Mar 2010 17:01 in reply to "Not exactly"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

I agree and disagree with you. On the one hand, you're certainly correct that the most fundamental choice you have is to use a given bit of software or not, depending primarily on whether it works well for you or not. Equally, I'd agree that "warm fuzzies and feelings of community" should not be mistaken as a more central concern than the quality of the software.

I disagree, however, with the idea that you've somehow been mistreated or abused. The transaction of receiving software from a distributor, whether in exchange for something of value or not, must be mutually beneficial. If a bit of Free Software works best for you in performing a given task, and you use it, then you've gotten a good tool for free, which is inarguably a benefit. If it doesn't work well enough for you, you can try another tool, possibly payware, live with the Free Software tool, or just not perform that task. But you have the freedom to pick whichever of these options provides you with the most utility, and I would expect any of them to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for all participants.

There is no cruel exploitation by evil FOSS religious-fanatic egomaniacs. They're giving you a tool. If it works, use it; if it doesn't, use something else. That's pretty much it.

Reply Parent Score: 3