Summary: Canonical puts its own wheels inside the GNU/Linux system, which in turn it can use to deviate further into a package that’s open but not exactly free (as in freedom)
A LONG discussion in IRC this morning revolved around Canonical. It is important to just keep an eye on what Canonical is doing, not to accuse them (based on mere suspicion) of something which they have not yet done and may never do at all.
Last month Canonical was criticised for its copyright policy in Ubuntu. Now that we deal with Unity and Wayland in future releases of Ubuntu, one might also ask about control which goes beyond copyrights. There is growing concern among us that Ubuntu does to GNU/Linux what Alfresco does right about now by going proprietary with an ‘open’ core-like (dual licensing) structure. Canonical’s current COO came from Alfresco where such a business strategy had been implemented even before he left. Hosted plans are part of it.
“Now that we deal with Unity and Wayland in future releases of Ubuntu, one might also ask about control which goes beyond copyrights.”Canonical desperately needs to hire some Free software advocates, including the likes of developers such as Alan Cox (now in Intel). Canonical adds so-called ‘pragmatists’, especially for the management (there are even hirings from Microsoft), so guidance sometimes misses the point about freedom. Just consider the Yahoo! debacle (Ubuntu sending users to Microsoft), which Canonical eventually withdrew from, only after a lot of backlash.
There is a growing perception that’s difficult to deny about Canonical building its own Android-like environment which embodies GNU/Linux but disregards developers from other companies that use the same software. Android is good at addressing Ubuntu’s #1 bug (market share), but it does very little to actually promote software freedom.
- Banshee (MCP-Excluded Mono Trap) is Not Yet in Next Ubuntu, There is Still Time to Stop It
- Canonical Probably to Put in Next Ubuntu GNU/Linux Mono Parts Which Microsoft Disallows Free of Lawsuits/Charge
- Ubuntu Users Plead to Keep Novell’s Banshee Out (and Other Miscellaneous Mono News)
- Microsoft-funded Media Player to Become Ubuntu’s Default?
- Mono Warning: Fresh Attempts to Inject Banshee Into Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10
- Novell/Microsoft Mono Poison (Banshee) Put in Ubuntu 10.10 NBE by Default
- Patent Threat Banshee Gets Hooks Into Ubuntu 10.10
- Banshee is Novell, Mono, and ‘Forbidden’ Microsoft Software Patents
- OpenSUSE 11.3 Users Sensitive to Microsoft Lawsuit Due to Banshee Bundling
- Fedora 13 Replaces F-Spot (Mono) With Shotwell (Vala), MeeGo Still Mono Encumbered
Ubuntu should not be imitating Apple or emulating Microsoft. Trying to become something they are not will leave almost everyone dissatisfied. Additionally, in order to succeed, Ubuntu should work closely with other companies. Diverging and doing things alone would leave Canonical competing quite weakly against far bigger and more aggressive companies. A lot of developers associate themselves with Free/libre software through the GPL (which Apple hates). Ubuntu should not anger “developers developers developers developers” like Microsoft is doing right now; instead, it ought to consider working more closely with GNOME and with X. It would help everyone. █
“That would be because we believe in Free Software and doing the right thing (a practice you appear to have given up on). Maybe it is time the term ‘open source’ also did the decent thing and died out with you.”
–Alan Cox to Eric Raymond