Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ubuntu is NOT a Community Project

by Dietrich Schmitz

What is that?  Yes, you read that right.  Ubuntu is not a community project.

I see an uprising in the peanut gallery forming in response.  Commentors will heckle and disparage and attempt to do their usual to insist that I am wrong.  Failing that, they will then try to disparage.  (Image credit:

This is nothing new.  I've been quite used to personal attacks for a long time.  When they come, you know you've won, because the opponent really hasn't got any logic that could be applied to a healthy normal debate of ideas.  It's a failed attempt.  They've got nothing when that happens.

I laugh when I see such comments.

But you know, it's true.  When Canonical Ltd. chose to create Skunkworks, Ubuntu ceased being a community Distro.  If there are gradations between one extreme black (proprietary) and white (community, open source) Ubuntu has moved in the grey scale towards black ever so slightly.

There's no rationale for it.  No amount of discussion will change that Skunkworks is a process to 'conceal' Canonical's operations.

Unlike Ubuntu, Fedora is a completely open, community Distro.  While it is true that Fedora is foundational to Red Hat Linux, there are no hidden plans, no obfuscating, no prevarication with the Fedora community.  What you see and I mean 'see' is what you get.

Canonical has taken numerous steps to the black proprietary world, including forking Wayland to Mir, planning their own package management system.  While they represented that they had every intention of putting their full support behind Wayland, the S.S. Shuttleworth made a last minute steering course change and forked it.  That is 180 degrees from their original plan.

Is it possible that Canonical want to move away from Debian and use their own package management system?  They represent that said packaging software will be for their yet to be released phone, but, clearly they have the where-with-all to write such a package manager and that would open up the possibility for yet another move toward becoming proprietary.  It would also allow them to unencumber themselves from their current Debian dependency. Is that so far-fetched a thought?  Don't kid yourself.  Did anyone see the fork of Wayland coming?  I doubt it.

This story is not so much to point out that Ubuntu is not a community project, but to show just how often Canonical keeps changing its course, all under the pretext of being a community based Distro.  If that were so, they should not have created Skunkworks and any of these major decisions should have been put up for review and consensus gathering, a process which is vital to the success and health of FOSS.

So, Ubuntu lovers, enthusiasts, supporters, while you may like to believe you have input, involvement in the decision-making process that goes into this Distribution, all indications show that the situation is quite the opposite and Canonical Ltd. heavy-handed governance prevails.  You are just pawns in a business plan which likely you know little about because that's the way Canonical Ltd. would like it to stay--veiled behind Skunkworks and in a corporate boardroom where cronies can cut deals.

-- Dietrich
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