Category Archives: Linux

Canonical: Ignorant or Evil?

I’ve been thinking about the recent flap over Canonical’s small contribution to GNOME and what that means. Thinking so much that I woke up at 3:00 AM and still can’t get back to sleep. I usually don’t get involved in these things because others do a better job, but I’ve not seen anyone who really gets to the point I’d like to make.

The best summary is Brian Proffitt’s article Canonical’s Disconnect with Linux Developer Community, and the original spark was Greg DeKoenigsberg’s article where he takes Canonical to task. It’s true Canonical’s commits to the GNOME codebase have been miniscule. Proffitt also points out their Linux kernel contributions have been weak. Jono Bacon responds to all this by pointing out that while Canonical hasn’t contributed directly, they’ve worked on projects outside of GNOME in their own development system (Launchpad). Others have pointed out that Canonical contributes users to Linux, so they should be excused for their lack of technical contribution.

This makes me wonder if Jono, Mark Shuttleworth and the rest of the shapers of the Ubuntu philosophy are ignorant of open source tradition, or if they just don’t care. The best synopsis of the open source development model is in The Cathedral and the Bazaar where Eric Raymond points out that free software developers aren’t driven by money, they create to have something useful and to win the respect and acknowledgment of their peers. Becoming “somebody” in the Linux world comes from contributing. You become a recognized contributor on a project by getting code commits. My name is in the Jokosher credits because I committed documentation.

It seems Canonical wants to short-circuit this model. The right to drive GNOME development comes form contributing. The more you contribute, the more merit your words have. As Jono points out, Ubuntu development is done in Launchpad. Rather than investing in GNOME and developing a reputation through contribution, Canonical has built their own system, developed their own projects and worked only on Ubuntu. When you make your own project you instantly become King, and you don’t have to work your way up.

As Jono points out, the code is open and you can come and get it out of Launchpad. This isn’t how it’s supposed to work. There’s no law against developing outside of upstream, it’s just a selfish thing to do. Developing in your own system means you care more about yourself than the upstream project. Red Hat, Debian and Novell have bowed to the leadership of GNOME and shared their vision. Canonical has decided to go their own way.Shuttleworth may talk about building an exciting new future for Linux, but he’s only concerned about Ubuntu. Linux may benefit as a whole, but by others also turning their backs on the upstream projects and going the Ubuntu way. Canonical has created 2 camps, the Linux community and the Ubuntu community.

It’s true that Ubuntu brings new users. It’s true that they’ve welcomed new users and helped them along and given them something they could be excited about. They’ve filled a niche that needed filled. My concern is that they’ve begun to teach these users a way of thinking that’s foreign to Linux and Free Software. Ubuntu is built on a deep foundation created by others. Ignoring that foundation is dangerous.

So I’m left with the question: is Canonical just so enthused with their success that they’re willing to ignore the open source principles they’re founded on? Do they really not know how to be a good citizen in the Linux community, or is Shuttleworth building the Ubuntu brand at the expense of Linux as a whole?

NaBloPoMo is already a fail

Thanks to Linc for pointing out that it’s National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I don’t know who comes up with these things, but it’s a good idea I guess. If I had known about it in advance, I might have given it a shot. As it is I’ve already failed, but I’m not too upset. Life is busy.

I guess a quick update wouldn’t hurt. I’m actually enjoying Twitter and hope to write about that in detail at some point. Working from home, it helps me feel I’m more connected to humanity if I can look and see posts going by.

I’m still running a lot and am signed up for the 100th annual Cincy Thanksgiving Day Race, which will be my first 10K. Some new aches and pains lately, but I’m surprised that my body continues to adapt to the increasing levels of stress I’m subjecting it to. I’m not even sore from the 5 mile run I did 2 days ago, when it would have killed me 4 months ago.

I continue to study for my  RCHE exam that I’ll be taking in December. It’s a lot of material to cover, but I’m surprised at how much I already know. 10 years of Linux experience isn’t wasted, and I see now that maintaining a home server has been good practice.

Other than that, I’m just busy. Lots to do and lots to deal with, but I’d rather be busy on what I love than bored and hopeless.

OLF audio – Jorge Castro and Dann Washko talks

Slowly I’m finishing up the Ohio LinuxFest audio I have. Even though they’ll eventually be released by Ohio LinuxFest in better quality, I still recorded parts of a couple talks to see how my recorder would do.

First is Dann Washko’s talk on the Linux boot process. A guy sat down next to me halfway through the talk, and started making lots of noise, so I cut the recording short. Here it is in MP3 if you want it. It’s starts in the middle of Klaatu’s intoduction.

Second I have Jorge Castro’s talk “Building a Community Around Your Project.” This one actually came out pretty well. It stands up without the slides, and has good advice on not only building a community but on running a free software project in general. Here it is in MP3 and OGG format.

More OLF audio – smoke break religion conversation

I finished editing another bit of OLF audio. Some folks went outside for a smoke break and a talk on religion broke out. I thought it was interesting enough to record.

Participants are, from left to right, Linc from TLLTS, me, Joel from TLLTS and Dave Yates. If you’re very religious or very anti-religious this might bother you. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it. The MP3 is here.

I’m on the Twitter!

OK. I’ve become just a tiny bit more stupid. I am now on the microblogs.

I was palying with Gwibber, which is a Linux Twitter client (among other things). Seems to work a lot better if you have an account for it to follow.

So I’m on the Twitter with ID Gomer_X. If you want to follow, whatever. I might say some interesting stuff, but I’m not one to let everyone know when I’m going to work or taking a crap.  🙂