I read Mark Shuttleworth’s long and boring post “Reflections on Ubuntu, Canonical and the march to free software adoption”, and I have to say it’s a very good PR stunt, waving the issues, repeating mantra, and trying to focus on irrelevant stuff.
So lets concentrate on the real issue; collaboration. Collaboration is quintessential for open source; if you don’t have it, you are playing a different game. So is Canonical collaborating? Well… No. Mark tries to wave the issue by saying that the fact that “but Canonical doesn’t do X” is not relevant, what is relevant is that they do so much more (X being collaboration). That’s like saying “we are a good light bulb, except that we don’t produce light”, well, no, you are simply not.
That should be enough to convince anyone with half a brain that Canonical is not really an open source player, but let’s see some of the other arguments (not that it can bring back his case to life).
Canonical’s main contribution is attracting many users. Really? A company tries to have as many users as possible for their product… shocking! Let’s imagine a hypothetical twin company called Selfish Canonical, how would they differ in this respect? They would also attract users, and therefore spread open source, just like Tivo, but that doesn’t make them members of the community; that’s just self-interest.
Mark also tries to make a looong list of things they do in Ubuntu, and all those things are very welcome… by the Ubuntu community. But what about us? The rest of the linux community receives virtually nothing from Canonical. They like to compare themselves to the linux kernel, GNU, GNOME, X, KDE as part of a bigger thing, but they are not. Each part of puzzle on a linux ecosystem collaborates with each other, including the distribution, like debian, fedora, archlinux. Ubuntu is nothing like that. Whatever Canonical develops for Ubuntu, is for Ubuntu alone, and they couldn’t care less if other people are able to use it or not, in fact, they most probably would rather not.
And finally, Mark tried to explain that they fill a niche nobody else is filling, in being able to bring linux to big organizations… Here he is just lying through his teeth, as I think he most probably has heard of RedHat, who by the way somehow manages to collaborate with “upstream”.
How can anyone swallow any of this? Canonical is a leech, and that’s that.