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Former Chair of Fedora: “Canonical is a Marketing Organization Masquerading as an Engineering Organization”

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: DeKoenigsberg remarks about Canonical’s contributions to GNOME

EARLIER on we mentioned a talk about GNOME — a talk which its deliverer (Dave Neary) wrote about and the slides are now online. They are self explanatory for the most part and they show that Red Hat is a top contributor to GNOME. What about Novell? Well, it’s trailing behind but nowhere as behind as Canonical, which contributes to GNOME in terms of commits almost as much as it contributes to Linux.

Greg DeKoenigsberg from Fedora/Red Hat — not Novell’s Greg Kroah-Hartman — is pressuring Canonical/Ubuntu to give more to GNOME.

Red Hat, 16%. Canonical, 1%

In case you missed it: $SUBJECT is the percentage of contribution to the GNOME codebase. Thanks, Dave Neary.

An upside of not working for Red Hat anymore: I can speak frankly about this kind of issue, since no one really cares what I think anymore. I’m just another cranky dude with a blog.

If you doubt, for a nanosecond, that Canonical is a marketing organization masquerading as an engineering organization, then you’re either an unapologetic Ubuntu fanboy or you’re not paying attention.

One of the most irritating things about working at Red Hat was watching Canonical take credit for code that Red Hat engineers wrote. Of course, Red Hat engineers, being the upstanding sort of chaps that they are, never said a word about it, because they’ve always been too busy carrying the load — and it’s really never made sense for Red Hatters to complain much about it anyway, because it’s not the sort of discussion that ever benefits the complaining party. “You’re just mad because Ubuntu’s cooler than you,” the masses would say, and to be fair, there’s always been something to that.

The part which can be described as a flame is that “Canonical is a marketing organization masquerading as an engineering organization, then you’re either an unapologetic Ubuntu fanboy or you’re not paying attention.”

A few weeks ago we wrote about the genesis of Ubuntu marketing. Was DeKoenigsberg unfair?

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  1. dyfet said,

    July 29, 2010 at 11:30 am


    Canonical is not a GNU/Linux engineering house or even formed from a software engineering house, and never claimed to be that. It is perhaps best described as an “integration” company that works within the Ubuntu GNU/Linux community, and this is an entirely valid, but offers a different role and mindset that I am sure also does touch more on marketing as well. Perhaps the closest one finds to traditional software engineering in Canonical is in things like the development of bzr, which suggests it has a strong python engineering house within. RedHat and many of the people in RedHat I recall have a long history in a more traditional software engineering outfit, and that is completely valid as well.

    One thing often overlooked is that Canonical is also a kind of economic experiment, and one that could be rather interesting even if Canonical had chosen to be involved in GNU/Linux. This has to do with the ideas around forming community-companies and distributed multi-national teams. Some of this was touched upon more visibly and directly in the prior to it failed free-developers net experiment.

    dyfet Reply:

    I meant …even if Canonical had chosen “not” to be… ;).

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I personally never had much of a problem with Ubuntu (been using it for 6 years); it does have its place.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    It does have it’s place, but the quality might have been an accidental side effect of the origins of the distro. As Ubuntu pulls in more characters like those in the mono guard and allows them to use Ubuntu as a leg up into upstream projects, they will eventually saw off their tree at the roots.

    I’m sure that’s fine for MBA’s because they get taught how to implode a company within two or three years. However, the rest of us want to go back to a pre-mono, functional Debian.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    AdamW from Mandriva (now Fedora) had a famous rant about it.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    AdamW had a famous rant about MBA’s or going back to a functional, mono-free distrro? Either way a link would be nice.

    The MBA’s implode a company with a large net worth and pocket a tiny fraction of a promille that they “made”. Basically it’s a form of looting but less cost effective.

    The dysfunction from Mono comes from the Microsoft way of thinking and disjointed irrationality that is its symptom (or cause).

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    His rant was about Canonical.

  2. Agent_Smith said,

    July 30, 2010 at 9:15 am


    The worse thing: He compares Canonical flooding the market with Ubuntu with M$ flooding the market with winblow$. And, he got a point in that…

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I don’t think what Ubuntu is doing should be considered malicious. I’ll do a followup post.

    Agent_Smith Reply:

    Perhaps not malicious. Reckless, but harmful anyway to the Linux ecosystem.

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