Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Sep 2010 22:42 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu If there's one consistent piece of criticism that gets lobbed in Canonical's and Mark Shuttleworth's direction, it's that they do not contribute enough code - or anything else for that matter - to the Free software world. Mark Shuttleworth has apparently had enough, and has written a very, very lengthy blog post detailing how he feels about this criticism.
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You obviously don't get open source
by felipec on Tue 14th Sep 2010 23:42 UTC
felipec
Member since:
2007-09-25

The single most important thing about open source is collaboration; if you don't have you are playing a different game.

Canonical brings nothing to the linux ecosystem, and doesn't collaborate. All the "benefits" mentioned in this article are for Ubuntu, not Linux.

Imagine a company like Microsoft, taking linux components, making their own distribution, not contributing anything, and then claiming their additions to the linux ecosystem are superior. I would call that stealing, and that's what Canonical is doing.

Canonical is taking advantage of the good will of thousands of developers an companies who do contribute, and then, in a PR spin, claiming that they are helping by spreading the SW.

Sure, it's a good thing, just like it's a good thing that Tivo distributes open source software. But don't claim you are a member of the community; you are not, you need to collaborate to claim that.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

What good is your precious code if you've got no one putting it in the hands of users? Does it really matter that the one putting your code out there is not the one contributing the most code?

Reply Parent Score: 7

mtzmtulivu Member since:
2006-11-14

What good is your precious code if you've got no one putting it in the hands of users? Does it really matter that the one putting your code out there is not the one contributing the most code?


In some projects, Canonical does not simply push the code from developers to end users, they take the code, modify it and then put it somewhere on the net to satisfy licensing terms and then push their modifications to end users and tell upstream "here are our modifications, come and get them if you want", how is this "collaboration"?

This creates a problem in the long term because features Canonical will push to end users are not the same as those found in upstream and in other distributions and users who will first start using Canonical distributions will make simple assumptions that the way of the *buntu* is the way of linux and this will intime fragment the ecosystem ..its kind of hard to understand why he doesnt understand this

Reply Parent Score: 9

felipec Member since:
2007-09-25

Sure, it's good to spread the code, nobody is saying that Canonical is doing a bad thing.

They are not part of the community, they don't contribute, they don't collaborate.

All the things they do are for self-interest.

Reply Parent Score: 2

kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

What good is your precious code if you've got no one putting it in the hands of users? Does it really matter that the one putting your code out there is not the one contributing the most code?


The problem that many Linux advocates have is the fact that Ubuntu is being praised for only doing the last easy 10% of the work. Where are they actually removing the HAL dependency? where are they actually investing into OpenOffice.org to fix the laundry list of bugs that are over 4 years old in some cases, where are they when it comes to moving GNOME forward by moving the individual projects away from deprecated components? where are their contributions to Xorg that improve reliability, power management, and so on? Where are they improving hardware compatibility? finishing software that seem to be stuck in a perpetual 0.1 state on Linux?

The problem that many Linux advocates have is the show pony attitude of Ubuntu coming into bundling up a whole heap of stuff and then taking no time out to actually show appreciation to those individual projects that actually make their distribution possible - without those projects they would have no distribution.

Reply Parent Score: 10

hussam Member since:
2006-08-17

The single most important thing about open source is collaboration; if you don't have you are playing a different game.

Canonical brings nothing to the linux ecosystem, and doesn't collaborate. All the "benefits" mentioned in this article are for Ubuntu, not Linux.

Imagine a company like Microsoft, taking linux components, making their own distribution, not contributing anything, and then claiming their additions to the linux ecosystem are superior. I would call that stealing, and that's what Canonical is doing.

Canonical is taking advantage of the good will of thousands of developers an companies who do contribute, and then, in a PR spin, claiming that they are helping by spreading the SW.

Sure, it's a good thing, just like it's a good thing that Tivo distributes open source software. But don't claim you are a member of the community; you are not, you need to collaborate to claim that.


definitely agreed. and this is where mark is being confused. he argues that ubuntu contributes to people's lifes. Ok sure it does. but this isn't what critics are talking about. Ubuntu has long been criticized for not contributing patches to upstream or not doing it enough. Whatever their contribution to upstream code it, it needs to be a LOT more.

Reply Parent Score: 6

apoclypse Member since:
2007-02-17

Why? Because Redhat does? Ubuntu is not Fedora. Ubuntu doesn't shy away from what makes them Ubuntu. They care about the user experience and packaging, they make no qualms about that. Anyone complaining about Ubuntu not contributing code upstream has to ask themselves, does it matter? Does the fact that Ubuntu contributes or not upstream affect Linux either way? The fact that Ubuntu is the highest profile distro means nothing, its the highest profile exactly for the reasons that Mark mentioned, that was their goal. Their goal was to get people to use Linux without having to be an Ubergeek, to make the community friendly enough that someone new could just jump in. They succeeded. Now all the distros who's focus turned from users to the enterprise or got more niche after each release, or thought the user as secondary to the Linux experience are jealous because they feel all of their hardwork is not being credited to them or that they are doing all of the work. Guess what, its gpl bitches. Stop whining. There is no golden rule saying I have to contribute anything back, the code is there, its open, do what you like as long as you don;t close the code. Ubuntu certainly does.

Reply Parent Score: 9

ballmerlikesgoogle Member since:
2009-10-23

Just out of curiosity, how many other Linux distributions or companies that might sponsor them over on Distrowatch actually collaborate?

As a Linux user, I don't write code either or contribute to the Linux kernel (or any other open source product). Does that in a sense make me as bad as Canonical? (God I certainly hope the "collaboration police" don't come looking for me this evening, I might have to switch back to Windows to throw them off....)

Your free to collaborate, and the beauty of it all is that if you don't want to, you don't have too. I really don't consider it a big deal. As long as Canonical does not violate the GPL or any other open source license, they are free to do what they want in regards to Ubuntu.

Reply Parent Score: 5

felipec Member since:
2007-09-25

Sure, they don't have to collaborate. By why should anyone applaud Canonical for meeting their legal obligations regarding the GPL? They have to.

RedHat, SUSE, Mandriva, they all contribute back to the community; they go beyond their bare minimal legal obligations, and their selfish interest for their own distribution, and push the changes upstream, and the rest of the community benefits; that is to be applauded.

Canonical is spreading Linux, and making money in the process, which is entirely selfish, and that's fine, but all we are saying is "you are not part of the community", of course that's "bad PR" so they don't want to accept that, which is denying their nature.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Almafeta Member since:
2007-02-22

Imagine a company like Microsoft, taking linux components, making their own distribution, not contributing anything, and then claiming their additions to the linux ecosystem are superior.


You mean Apple?

Canonical brings nothing to the linux ecosystem, and doesn't collaborate.


Quality-of-life projects like Papercut notwithstanding.

In the lifespan of a software project, only 2% of the hours put into a project are the "interesting" and "new" stuff; the remainder consists of bug reports and fixes, quality of life changes, and addressing other such issues that only appear in rare circumstances or over long periods of times. Don't despise Canonical for devoting their efforts to the back 98% because they're rarely around for the first 2%.

Edited 2010-09-15 00:38 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

felipec Member since:
2007-09-25

"Imagine a company like Microsoft, taking linux components, making their own distribution, not contributing anything, and then claiming their additions to the linux ecosystem are superior.


You mean Apple?
"

Yes, Apple is a good example of a lecher company.

"Canonical brings nothing to the linux ecosystem, and doesn't collaborate.


Quality-of-life projects like Papercut notwithstanding.
"

First, that's not Canonical, that's Ubuntu, and the contributions are for Ubuntu, not pushed upstream, if they are, Canonical has nothing to do with it.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Fettarme H-Milch Member since:
2010-02-16

"Imagine a company like Microsoft, taking linux components, making their own distribution, not contributing anything, and then claiming their additions to the linux ecosystem are superior.


You mean Apple?
"


Yeah! Damn you, Apple, for leeching off WebKit, CUPS, LLVM/Clang, libdispatch, Darwin Streaming Server, etc. without giving ANYTHING back!
Oh wait, those are all products which are mostly developes by Apple..

Reply Parent Score: 2

SlackerJack Member since:
2005-11-12

Canonical make Linux more accessible to a wider audience and try to make some things that have haunted Linux for years, much easier. Here's a few examples:

Installation of hardware drivers like the NVIDIA graphics driver. It's so easy to install, you just activate it, simple. New users want 3D accelerated drivers, especially Windows users and they don't want to add repositories, find which packages to install, which is guess work to them.

Simple installation. Now Linux isn't exactly hard to install but the Ubuntu installer doesn't give hardly any of that verbose crap new users want to see. It's easy to install and says what it can do during the install.

Media. Prompt people to install codecs easy and Flash. In fact, that happens in Rhythmbox for mp3 playback. they also provide cloud storage and a music store for main stream music which new users want.

Software Centre. It may need some work but it's a ton better than some of the package managers out there.

Most Linux distros just don't care about the above things and that's why they will never meet the needs of the average computer buyer. If you like Linux like me and can use any distro, fine but don't expect the mass of people to do it, because it's not going to happen, they need something like Ubuntu.

Canonical could do more in fixing the lower stack of Linux that's for sure(graphics drivers), but it's not like Canonical close source their software or hide it behind closed doors(Novell did at one point with Compiz).

Reply Parent Score: 6

felipec Member since:
2007-09-25

Canonical make Linux more accessible to a wider audience and try to make some things that have haunted Linux for years, much easier.


Imagine Canonical was evil and selfish. What would be their objective? They would want their product to be successful (as is the only way to survive), so they need users, and the way to do that is with a good user experience.

Nobody is denying that they have done good things for Ubuntu. The observation is that its only for Ubuntu, which means Canonical is not a member of the linux community, and that's fine, but they shouldn't be pulling PR stunts trying to make believe like they are.

Installation of hardware drivers like the NVIDIA graphics driver. It's so easy to install, you just activate it, simple. New users want 3D accelerated drivers, especially Windows users and they don't want to add repositories, find which packages to install, which is guess work to them.


That is fine, but Fedora goes for the home run; a public, completely open source driver that has no license issues and can be used by all the distributions.

Simple installation. Now Linux isn't exactly hard to install but the Ubuntu installer doesn't give hardly any of that verbose crap new users want to see. It's easy to install and says what it can do during the install.


Same with many other distributions which you have obviously not tried; e.g Fedora, OpenSUSE.

Media. Prompt people to install codecs easy and Flash. In fact, that happens in Rhythmbox for mp3 playback. they also provide cloud storage and a music store for main stream music which new users want.


This wasn't developed by Canonical, and in fact it was deployed first on Fedora IIRC.

Software Centre. It may need some work but it's a ton better than some of the package managers out there.


Clearly you haven't tried PackageKit, which was developed by Fedora, for all distributions and all package managers, and eventually Ubuntu would also use it.

Most Linux distros just don't care about the above things and that's why they will never meet the needs of the average computer buyer. If you like Linux like me and can use any distro, fine but don't expect the mass of people to do it, because it's not going to happen, they need something like Ubuntu.


They do care, but doing things right takes more time.

There will be eventually a company that has the right talent to create good UIs and is a good member of the open source community. At that point Ubuntu would disappear into oblivion just like it came.

Canonical could do more in fixing the lower stack of Linux that's for sure(graphics drivers), but it's not like Canonical close source their software or hide it behind closed doors(Novell did at one point with Compiz).


Canonical doesn't need to fix anything, they just need to make their code distribution agnostic, and perhaps push things in a truly open source way. See how Fedora made PackageKit available to everyone for example. But they simply don't care.

And you are mistaken, Novell closed Xgl, compiz is something totally different.

Reply Parent Score: 3

dacresni Member since:
2009-08-26

Um WHAT? thats a crude analagy. Its not like they didn't open source their code contributions. Im sure the first thing they've contributed in the 'Big Code Drop' method has to be the multitouch. Is it well documented? Is it integratable in other distros? Otherwise, (https://launchpad.net/lazr ) the parts of launchpad and their contrizutions to gnome.

Reply Parent Score: 1

felipec Member since:
2007-09-25

Um WHAT? thats a crude analagy. Its not like they didn't open source their code contributions. Im sure the first thing they've contributed in the 'Big Code Drop' method has to be the multitouch. Is it well documented? Is it integratable in other distros? Otherwise, (https://launchpad.net/lazr ) the parts of launchpad and their contrizutions to gnome.


Microsoft also has open source code, that doesn't mean they collaborate.

Linux already has multi-touch; it's called MPX. Ubuntu is yet again not collaborating and going in an entirely different direction.

Reply Parent Score: 0

benir0 Member since:
2006-07-26

No, you obviously don't get it.

Software under the GPL is specifically offered free for any use, and Canonical has built an OS with said "Free" or GPLed software. This is exactly the point. Anyone can step in and use free software to give to kids to oh, I don't know, build a business? If Canonical isn't providing anything of value, then how can they possibly make money?

They do provide value to the community internally in the ways he mentions and to the world at large by working to put an OS backed by "Free" ideals in the hands of people all over the world.

Blame Canonical?

Whether you use Arch, Gentoo, Ubuntu or whatever...

Thank them.

Reply Parent Score: 1

bornagainenguin Member since:
2005-08-07

benir0 riposted...

If Canonical isn't providing anything of value, then how can they possibly make money?


Who says they are?

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Parent Score: 5

felipec Member since:
2007-09-25

No, you obviously don't get it.

Software under the GPL is specifically offered free for any use, and Canonical has built an OS with said "Free" or GPLed software. This is exactly the point. Anyone can step in and use free software to give to kids to oh, I don't know, build a business? If Canonical isn't providing anything of value, then how can they possibly make money?


That's like a priest arguing that he is not a pedophile because he pays taxes... dude, the fact that you meet your legal obligations doesn't mean you are any less evil. Canonical can provide value to their users and not contribute to the linux community at the same time, and that's what they are doing.

They do provide value to the community internally in the ways he mentions and to the world at large by working to put an OS backed by "Free" ideals in the hands of people all over the world.


Right, they promote the "free" ideals by distributing proprietary software like NVIDIA drivers. Even if they did that, that's not contributing, that's just fulfilling their own self-interest with PR. At best it can be considered a side-effect, not a contribution.

Whether you use Arch, Gentoo, Ubuntu or whatever.


Ask any Archlinux user; Canonical building up their Ubuntu brand doesn't help them in any way.

Reply Parent Score: 0

another_sam Member since:
2009-08-19

What do you think about the deployment of open source on the desktop achieved by Canonical?

For instance, there is a strong correlation between the number of users and the number of bugs found. And Launchpad allows that bug reports go upstream. I think this quite enables collaboration. I don't know if "enabling collaboration" is the same as "collaboration" for you, but for me is essential and just for that I give thanks to Canonical.

And what about freedom and privacy? What is the point of using free software if your government and the companies you make business with run proprietary stacks?

Do you only chat and send e-mails with friends and family that use Linux and BSD? I don't have that luck. That's why I would like them to use a free software stack; and that's again why Canonical's task is so important: providing a free software stack for them, and the employees of my government, and non-computer engineers the services of which I need to do my daily life.

If you don't want to call Canonical part of "the community", don't do it. But then, at least acknowledge that the efforts of "the community" significantly benefit from the efforts of Canonical in changing the reality.

Edited 2010-09-15 09:48 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Doesn't Canonical submit most of the code it does produce back up to the Debian parent distro?

Reply Parent Score: 2

deathshadow Member since:
2005-07-12

Obviously don't get

You say that like it's a bad thing.

The single most important thing about open source is collaboration;

Which means jack **** to Joe Sixpack user who isn't a coder, and so long as that attitude prevails Linux will continue to be a buggy geek tinkertoy on the desktop.

JHVH forbid someone take it and try to package it in a manner a normal person might actually try and use.

But again, the only people who care about "open source" or not are back room *nix server geeks who felt left behind by the REAL computer revolution, career educators and lecturers, and college age/younger losers dumb enough to buy into the naive pipe dream rhetoric while still having life paid for by mommy and daddy.

To the average person -- aka someone who doesn't write code, doesn't want to write code, and is even willing to pay other people to do it so they can actually get some WORD DONE -- the entire "free as in freedom" snake oil means NOTHING -- at least unlike some other distro's Ubuntu is willing to acknowledge it.

Though it's fun watching the free***'s kvetch once they encounter the truth of REAL freedom. When you have ACTUAL freedom you often have to put up with other people doing things you don't like.

Such as taking your freely given product and doing whatever the hell they want with it -- hence the LIE of the FSF which puts restrictions on 'freely given' in the name of Freedom. Uhm...

Edited 2010-09-16 13:26 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 0