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  • Mark Shuttleworth Talks About What Ubuntu Contributes

    Phoronix: Mark Shuttleworth Talks About What Ubuntu Contributes

    For those wishing to spend some time reading a long blog post or are interested from Mark Shuttleworth's perspective regarding what Ubuntu / Canonical contributes to the free software ecosystem (since it's widely regarded that their actual code contributions are very low), here's the post for you...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=ODU5OA

  • #2
    that's pretty good.

    but a lot of people see that canonical is not red hat. we can't just expect other companies to be as awesome as red hat is with contributions.

    and hey, it could be a lot worse. imagine if canonical was completely ungrateful and ordered around kernel or x server developers to fix things.

    or worse yet, what if every bit of code canonical wrote was binary only and dynamically linked to the vanilla code that make up a distro. and if part of that code was written by microsoft through a strange deal.


    hahaha. see how good canonical looks now compared to the above?

    Comment


    • #3
      The point was that free software didn't require another Red Hat or IBM. The ecosystem was already in place when Canonical was founded, all it needed was a vehicle to attract users.

      And that is what Ubuntu is.

      Comment


      • #4
        Well spoken, BlackStar.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
          The point was that free software didn't require another Red Hat or IBM. The ecosystem was already in place when Canonical was founded, all it needed was a vehicle to attract users.
          That's crap, it's not like there were too many developers working on free software.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
            The point was that free software didn't require another Red Hat or IBM. The ecosystem was already in place when Canonical was founded, all it needed was a vehicle to attract users.

            And that is what Ubuntu is.
            Agreed. But it would help to give credit where credit is due, as well. The very substantial portions of Ubuntu's top applications that are written by the likes of Red Hat, Collabora, Novell, and (as much as I hate to say it) Oracle, should somehow get free name brand recognition from using Ubuntu. If I were an ordinary end-user, I wouldn't mind at all seeing a splash screen pop up giving credit to "Red Hat and contributors" for some popular Gnome program. OpenOffice and Firefox already have fairly prominent advertisement for their primary sponsor; the Know Your Rights thing on Firefox's first launch, and the Help -> About on Firefox, both advertise Mozilla Foundation prominently. Similarly Oracle is given credit twice for OpenOffice: in their splash screen on every startup, and in About.

            Ubuntu is/was necessary, but it is important that the companies who put actual engineering effort into the projects Ubuntu depends on remain visible, rather than invisible. You see, Ubuntu has an incentive to ensure that these companies stay in business, and that they continue to employ the engineers who work on the projects they depend on. Without them, "the community" may take up some of the slack, but the fact is that there are quite a few projects that are primarily driven by the commercial open source model. We (the users) need to financially support these companies when we are able. Well... maybe not Oracle, but definitely the others I listed.

            Also, I'll point out that one of the top 5 or top 10 GNU/Linux desktop engineering companies, Novell, already produces a distribution that (imho) directly competes with Ubuntu on ease of use. Now don't get me wrong; OpenSUSE as old as version 10.0 was really, really user-unfriendly. But I've been using 11.3 for a few weeks, after being a long-time Ubuntu user, and my impression is that the community built around OpenSUSE, and the distribution itself, is so polished and fresh that it could very well become just as popular as Ubuntu. And the funny part about that is that Novell is also one of the top engineering companies, so they aren't "just" a vehicle for delivering GNU/Linux to the masses.

            If Novell can do it, why can't Canonical? Do your fair share of engineering, and let your user enthusiasts and fans build out the community. It's a successful model for OpenSUSE. Build it, and a few people will come; then they will tell their friends; then everyone will come. It's a latent effect, but you've gotta have patience.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by allquixotic View Post
              Agreed. But it would help to give credit where credit is due, as well. The very substantial portions of Ubuntu's top applications that are written by the likes of Red Hat, Collabora, Novell, and (as much as I hate to say it) Oracle, should somehow get free name brand recognition from using Ubuntu. If I were an ordinary end-user, I wouldn't mind at all seeing a splash screen pop up giving credit to "Red Hat and contributors" for some popular Gnome program. [...]
              If the developers of said popular Gnome program put in a splash screen, the user will see it. If not, they won't. Can't see what Ubuntu has to do with this.

              For what it's worth, many applications come with a Help -> About screen that lists contributors.

              If Novell can do it, why can't Canonical? Do your fair share of engineering, and let your user enthusiasts and fans build out the community. It's a successful model for OpenSUSE. Build it, and a few people will come; then they will tell their friends; then everyone will come. It's a latent effect, but you've gotta have patience.
              But Canonical does create code (do read the Mark's blog post, it's an interesting read). They may not spend as much energy on Mono/Gnome/[your favorite app] but they write code and share it with the rest of the ecosystem as they should.

              Frankly, this "Canonical doesn't write code" mantra is bollocks.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
                The point was that free software didn't require another Red Hat or IBM. The ecosystem was already in place when Canonical was founded, all it needed was a vehicle to attract users.

                And that is what Ubuntu is.
                I see. So they are a marketing company... which should make the companies who pay Canonical for support feel just awesome.

                "Sorry we can't fix your issue fast enough, all we are setup to do is attract users and take your money. "

                If Canonical only had a community supported distro, that would be one thing. But since they sell support for the release, they need to put more into the engineering side, and not lean on upstream to work on the hard issues for them.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Canonical should stand up and seriously invest in Linux as a platform for opensource entertainment and gaming(subscription, head money etc), instead of shifting around icons on desktop.

                  I know people are willing to pay good money for GOOD drm-free games and there are methods to make them real.

                  Do something that is real. Like RedHat does.

                  Then, Mandriva will eventually vanish or will have to change as well.

                  And they should really stop pushing unfinished unstable code into mainstream.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kgonzales
                    I see. So they are a marketing company...
                    Which is exactly what Linux needs.

                    Originally posted by crazycheese
                    Canonical should stand up and seriously invest in Linux as a platform for opensource entertainment and gaming(subscription, head money etc), instead of shifting around icons on desktop.
                    I'm getting the distinct feeling that this is part of what they are trying to do. The new Software Center and the (quite successful) MP3 store both hint at this.

                    The underlying platform is slowly becoming more stable (10.10 is looking better than 10.04, which was significantly better than 9.10) but it still needs a lot of work to reach the user-friendliness and mind-share of Win7 and OSX. Because, unlike geeks like you and I, users don't like playing with their computers. They just want to get things done (facebook, music, photos, games).

                    I don't know if Canonical will succeed in the end, but they have the vision and will to pull this off: they understand Linux is a means to an end, not the end itself.

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                    • #11
                      Visions and marketing my a$$.
                      The question here is simple:
                      "does Canonical contribute code to open source"?
                      And the answer is a big NO. They are just taking credit for other people's work. The rest is fanboyism and tribalism.

                      For example read this:
                      https://www.linuxfoundation.org/site...riteslinux.pdf

                      Red Hat, IBM, Novell, Intel etc.
                      Canonical is nowhere to be found.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
                        But Canonical does create code (do read the Mark's blog post, it's an interesting read). They may not spend as much energy on Mono/Gnome/[your favorite app] but they write code and share it with the rest of the ecosystem as they should.

                        Frankly, this "Canonical doesn't write code" mantra is bollocks.
                        I never claimed Canonical doesn't write code. It's the way they go about it that people question. Papercuts more or less stands on its own as the only example of Canonical putting their own staff to work on Free Software projects that are not strictly service-based.

                        We've got the Ubuntu One platform (including the music store), which is highly monetized, and AFAIK the backend is closed source. If users decide they don't like Canonical's pricing model, they can take it or leave it. The client code is open, but the backend is run as a tight ship, not unlike iTunes or any of a myriad of other walled gardens. Even opening up the cloud storage portion of Ubuntu One would be generally useful, as an alternative to something like FTP or Samba. I prefer the user interface and integrated nature of the Ubuntu One client to something like FileZilla, but it's simply not possible to set up your own Ubuntu One server without starting a reverse engineering project from scratch.

                        Then we've got Launchpad, whose open source code is so difficult to decipher and set up that most people give up and just use the official launchpad.net installation. I went from zero to having an FTPES server backed by an OpenLDAP directory server over SSL in about 12 hours. I set up a mail server with IMAP+SSL, SMTP, roundcubemail, and local mboxes in about 4 hours. I accomplished both of these tasks as a relative "newbie" to these environments. There were a ton of configuration files to edit, and a mind boggling array of settings and options. It was hell -- or so I thought, until I started playing with Launchpad.

                        I spent over 3 days trying to configure even a basic Launchpad service on my own box, and gave up without being the least bit successful. Canonical has an incentive to make Launchpad the open source project as sysadmin-unfriendly as possible, while making their own (monetized) Launchpad.net as user-friendly as possible. Are they intentionally making it difficult to install? Your guess is as good as mine.

                        My point is that "use and give back to upstream" has been a necessary mode of operation for the success of almost all free/open projects. Well, that's a bit black and white; I will qualify it further as "use, and give back, to the extent you are able". So we don't expect Grandma to be able to contribute anything back, unless she happens to be a technically savvy grandma with a career of state-of-the-art software engineering behind her! The more capable you are, and the bigger (in terms of manpower) your entity is, the more that is expected of you, relative to the amount of useful work you get out of the software as a user.

                        But look at Canonical. By your own insistence BlackStar (and I agree with you 100%), Canonical does write code. They have a staff of professional software engineers. But how do they invest their engineering resources? Do they work on generally useful projects that are fully open source and applicable to a wide array of Linux distros? On the whole, not really. Do the contribute back to the specific projects to which they owe the majority of their success? On the whole, not really. I will be interested to see whether Canonical ever steps up their upstream contribution as their revenue stream increases with their popularity and business acumen. If they become bigger than Red Hat but still contributing less than Gentoo, we'll know for sure that something is very wrong with their philosophy, and it will be abundantly clear that they have defied the tacit contract between distributions.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have yet to see a Papercut that isn't upstreamed. Launchpad may be hard to setup but that's not saying anything.

                          Ubuntu One is kind of a peculiar thing, simply because noone is using it (guess what, most are using DropBox which is even more closed) - and while I don't like how Ubuntu One is being developed, I am willing to cut them some slack. It's not as if Novell et al(*) don't release closed-source applications either.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Maybe it's just me but it seemed from the article/blog, that the justification is (btw, simplified) we are responsible for recruiting a lot of people to Linux and open source software so we should be allowed to be exempt from significant code contribution upstream. Does anyone else wonder if this is a reasonable perception?

                            If you've watched any of those videos, the Novell employee who (yes, he uses OpenSUSE), seemed to take a few digs at Ubuntu for this in his presentation.

                            Ubuntu's marketing was exceptional and imho, a significant reason why they were able to build the project they did and of course, their devs and all the contributors as well but more than any other distro, the marketing was extensive.

                            I think Debian is left out of the praise and they do a lot that Ubuntu is able to benefit from. Yet, they don't seem to have hardly any marketing hype. I think the contrast is interesting. Anyone else think so?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by phoronix
                              Mark Shuttleworth Talks About What Ubuntu Contributes
                              I was hoping to read something concrete, but yet again the usual blah blah about human generosity and the obligatory children reference. Always a good thing to throw children in your pitch, as any skilled politician can tell you. I can't believe people are actually buying this.

                              Comment

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