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Canonical, Ubuntu, Innovation, and the Establishment

Mark Shuttleworth has made waves in the Linux community. Ubuntu is not just another Debian knock-off which may be why many in the Debian community got miffed. They didn’t like being upstaged or something. Others expressed outrage because they didn’t feel that Canonical, Shuttleworth’s company supporting Ubuntu, didn’t give to balance what it took.

Then, Canonical’s efforts to fix system startup issues by creating a replacement system startup manager were sneered at although it did stimulate a similar replacement in the ‘proper’ volunteer community.

The desktop effort Unity also got wacks. Canonical came up with its own because Gnome wasn’t providing what it felt was needed by the system users. That got a lot of people upset, too.

Right now, the brouhaha is about the display manager. Larabel thinks Canonical’s efforts are KWin On Mir: A Solution To Non-Existent Problem. That’s about KDE folks complaining about Canonical innovations. The problem is that the Linux graphics stack is a mess with roots going back to the 80’s and a paradigm of terminals attached to a central server. There are even complaints that Canonical’s efforts are incompetent because it doesn’t have developers with experience in the old Linux graphics mechanisms like the Wayland, another effort to clean up the mess, has.

Then there’s the ‘establishment’ and ‘greedy corporation’ ethos of modern times showing up. LinuxBSDos is very clear to tell folks Ubuntu is not a community distribution.

“That should be obvious to anybody who’s been following the development of Ubuntu, but for those who have not, here’s the deal: Ubuntu is not a community distribution.

The sooner you get that, the better, especially if you’ve been under the illusion that Mark Shuttleworth cares very much about your own idea of what a community distribution should be.”

The assertion is that the community was not consulted. That is the socialist view where consultation has to be in a committee manner with a convention or something measured by the ‘authority’ of certain individuals. It is not in the capitalist view where consultation is in the demands of the market where the value is measured by each individual’s choices.

“And that’s where it begins and ends. Commercial interest(s). Even though Canonical has been in business since early 2004, the company is not profitable. Keep that in mind, because that’s the driving force behind almost every decision and project coming from the mind of Mark Shuttleworth and crew. The need to be profitable.

If the effect of a Canonical decision impacts your pet project positively, it’s only by accident, definitely not intended. At the same time, don’t be disappointed if your project is adversely impacted by what Mark Shuttleworth decides to do.”

What is totally and completely missing here is one of the big issues of our time. If a Canonical decision impacts a pet project positively, Canonical gets positive feedback which means more customers. That is not accident but rather the outcome of entrepreneurial risk taking. It is what drives innovation.

“For emphasis, Ubuntu is not a community distribution. The sooner you get that, the less likely you will be disappointed by any decision that Mr. Shuttleworth makes.”

The fact is that those projects that fit the definition of “community distribution” have suffered the fate of other socialist efforts. It is the capitalist driven distributions like Red Hat’s Fedora and Canonical’s Ubuntu that have shown the vigor and vitality and have driven much of the progress in Linux. Sour grapes and failed ideologies only highlight those who have dissonance with reality.

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