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12.09.10

Canonical is Hiring Mono Developers, Losing COO

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 7:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Matt Asay in clouds

Summary: Matt Asay, Canonical’s COO, is moving to a proprietary software company, but a Mono coup continues as the company’s HR department makes dubious judgment regarding some developer recruits

Canonical has been hiring from Microsoft and its outgoing COO had also considered working for Microsoft some years ago. What is Canonical thinking? Then there is the Mono issue. Canonical ended up hiring the GNOME-Do (Mono-based) developer, who is now using Vala to create Unity. Yes, it’s that divergence from GNOME Shell, which OMG!Ubuntu!, a Mono booster at times, suggests should use the Mono-based Docky. “Holy crap,” writes mohanpram in Identica, “Docky is awesome, and I can see where Unity’s dock is getting its juice (from Docky’s creator of course)!” According to this post:

As an aside, Jason who created Docky now works for Canonical.

Recently, Canonical also ended up adding Novell’s Banshee, which is based on Mono. We wrote about it in posts such as:

Here is some new Banshee boosting from OMG!Ubuntu!:

Banshee will be sat on millions of Ubuntu desktops next april as Ubuntu 11.04′s default music player – but some users think it could do with looking a little bit more native.

Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza is meanwhile producing more tools for Moonlight (not just Mono) [1, 2] and heckling our Web site over at Twitter (in the most immature of ways). Had he had a rebuttal to facts we publish, he would not have to resort to childish cartoons, which as a ‘defence’ is pretty telling. It’s weak. They attack the messenger.

“As a user of Ubuntu since its very first release, all these recent moves are utterly disappointing and I find myself increasingly installing Fedora for people.”In other important news, Canonical’s COO is moving to a proprietary software company (dressed up as “open”, like Apple) after he almost accepted a job at Microsoft. He sure got some heat from the likes of Bradley Kuhn (FSF) for Canonical’s strategy with copyrights, for example. “I miss being in the trenches,” he says in his blog, but isn’t that where he was while working for Canonical? Jane Silber, the CEO, says goodbye and Mark Shuttleworth, currently based in London, recently bought a house in New York, according to one report. As a user of Ubuntu since its very first release, all these recent moves are utterly disappointing and I find myself increasingly installing Fedora for people. Why can’t Canonical at least hire correctly? Are they begging for entryism? Or are the HR people themselves already indifferent or hostile towards the notions of software freedom while not bearing in mind that Microsoft attacks GNU/Linux like no other company does?

Either way, Techrights never thought that Asay becoming Canonical’s COO was a good idea (he was a Mac user and GNU/Linux critic at the time). His departure is now covered in:

i. Matt Asay leaving Canonical

Matt Asay has announced that after only ten months he has officially resigned from Canonical. Asay, after leaving Alfresco joined Canonical in February of this year as its Chief Operating Officer (COO). He confirmed that he will be taking a senior business development position at early-stage HTML5 startup Strobe “to focus on building the open web”.

ii. Well-known, open-source advocate Matt Asay leaves Canonical/Ubuntu

In an unexpected move, Matt Asay, Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, will be leaving Ubuntu.

In an e-mail to me, Asay, former VP of Business Development at Alfresco, the open-source enterprise Content Management System (CMS), told me that the news of his depature from Canonical would be be announced internally at Canonical today, December 8th.

Asay is leaving Canonical, because “Basically, I needed to get back to a customer-facing role but hadn’t realized that until my good friend, Bryce Roberts, pinged me about a company he had invested in (Strobe). I hadn’t been looking around but agreed to meet with Charles [Jolley], the founder.”

iii. Canonical COO Matt Asay leaves to join web startu

The above are some of the earliest reports. It seems like SJVN broke the news before Canonical even announced this internally. “Matt Assay says goodbye to Canonical,” wrote one of our readers in IRC last night. “Perhaps a guy who’s constantly defending Microsoft and non free software did not fit in at Canonical. As I said the last time he mouthed off, “You can take the man out of Novell but you can’t take the Novell out of the man.””

Here is a new hire of Canonical. In his blog he says: “I am the new “Engineering Manager for the Desktop+ group”. What the heck is that? Well, my job is to help a bunch of talented people I like (at least the ones I’ve known so far ;-) deliver cool software.” This developer seems to be Qt oriented and yesterday KDE said that Canonical had donated another server. Are we possibly seeing a change in strategy? Well, Unity and Mono with a GNOME/GTK base seem to suggest it’s unlikely, but who knows? I was one of the first people to promote Ubuntu and I am writing this post from Kubuntu, so I hope Canonical will return to its senses.

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15 Comments

  1. dyfet said,

    December 9, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Gravatar

    This to me is actually rather mixed news combined this way. While I think it is rather good for Ubuntu that he is leaving, perhaps with this other news about even more Mono people moving inside Canonical indicates maybe too much damage has already been done. Time will tell.

    twitter Reply:

    It is never too late to do what’s right. Software mistakes are some of the easiest to fix.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I don’t think it’s as serious as dyfet put it, but generally, I view Asay’s departure as independent of the rest and also an opportunity for Canonical to hire someone with a vision that can appeal to business based on Freedom terms and value. The idea that new branding would eliminate growing pain is based on the assumption that you can outapple Apple with less than 1% their marketing budget.

    Many companies offer Firefox to employees because it’s better (safer, faster, etc.) and sometimes because they know it does not tie users to a monoculture. GNU/Linux can follow a similar route.

    dyfet Reply:

    I concede I simply never liked Asay, his vision, or the Microsoft people in there. But I feel time will tell, and yes, you may well be very correct it proves less damaging than it may seem at the moment.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    He recently told me they were doing all right financially. I hope he was honest and I hope it’s true. The big boss is still Mark, whose close friend is the CEO.

  2. vexorian said,

    December 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Gravatar

    Not all the Mono developers use Mono with the Agenda to push it everywhere due to possible Microsoft ties.

    Some I think legitimately did so because they like the language. Since gnome-do’s developer is now working with unity, a vala project. Let us give him the benefit of the doubt. Vala actually competes with Mono and needs more usage, so in a way unity may even be good news for those that want less Mono in ubuntu. If vala proves valuable for unity, it may encourage canonical to port some projects away from Mono and to it (Banshee, tomboy).

    Banshee is the real cause of concern here. If we go back to 2009 the push for banshee came from real Mono pushers that infiltrated Ubuntu’s development and packaging with the agenda to make it more dependent on Mono just for Mono’s sake and no other considerations like quality of the app. Specifically, Jo Shields. Banshee as of now is still not that great of an alternative to music player so this move is fairy negative. And the influence of these guys is going to continue being dangerous.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Is Banshee still as resource-intensive as it was reported to be last year? Some devices can’t afford the RAM Mono runtime takes, the API/patent problems aside.

    Remember who owns Banshee copyrights.

    dyfet Reply:

    Actually, in addition to performance overhead, it (and tomboy, it’s a mono runtime issue actually) are also battery-life killers. And this is especially true on ARM machines. So it’s bad for freedom, bad for system performance, and bad for your battery life. What is the positive??

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s good for Novell AttachMSFT and good for Microsoft (MSFT).

  3. twitter said,

    December 9, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Gravatar

    Fedora is not a natural substitute for Ubuntu. There are differences in configuration and software install that can be annoying. It would be nice to see OEMs pick up Fedora because Fedora is committed to free software and a free system, one that is not laced with non free hardware drivers, is one can be replaced with any other free system.

    Less effort is expended moving to other flavors of Debian or Debian itself. People looking for an easy install that packs things like Adobe Trash should look to Mepis. People looking for freedom, privacy and control should move to Debian itself, probably testing at the moment. People looking for beauty should try Elive. There are hundreds of others if you are up for an adventure. Most of these can be installed side by side in different partitions on the same machine, with a few minor issues like Mepis using local time for the system clock by default because it assumes the user also has Windows. Debian has worked best for me, my wife likes Mepis.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I probably ought to have also mentioned Trisquel GNU/Linux 4.0. It’s a bigger step towards freedom.

    http://trisquel.info/

  4. Agent_Smith said,

    December 10, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Gravatar

    IMHO, Kubuntu is way better than default Ubuntu. Folks at Kubuntu think different and do things in a different way.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    In my personal blog I’ve posted some comparisons bwteeen my Fedora KDE box and Kubuntu box. Each has its strengths, but Kubuntu gives me a breezier time, still.

    Agent_Smith Reply:

    Should try Mandriva 2010 spring. It’s smooth as silk and beautiful as Angelina Jolie ;-D

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I loved Mandriva 2008 Spring but left it last year.

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