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Canonical’s Grave Strategic Errors Can Make Ubuntu the Next Linspire (Circa 2007)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Ubuntu at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mark Shuttleworth wants us to think Microsoft has changed

Shuttleworth and Mono

Summary: Canonical’s founder is making controversial moves which are helping Microsoft’s PR, such as the nonsense constantly heard from full-time PR staff and moles like Rebellino

UBUNTU used to be a nice project when it was portrayed as “all community” (with branding done accordingly) and some humanitarian cause, as implied by the literal name, “Ubuntu”. I loved Ubuntu when I became an early adopter. I had been told by a colleague (another Ph.D. student called Patrick) that Ubuntu was Debian-based and funded by a man who had visited space. Another colleague of mine, the man who created the first GNU/Linux distribution (MCC) helped me find a copy of Ubuntu 4.10, the first release. Back then it was just an easy-to-install Debian with GNOME loaded by default. It was long before Ubuntu became a branding venture of Mark and his ego trip (not the trip he made to space). I don’t approach this post from a position of hate, only sheer disappointment and a sense of being back-stabbed (betrayal) after sacrificing a lot of my personal life to Ubuntu. I am not alone. Follow reporters privately say the exact same thing.

“The other day Mark crossed out one of his recruitment tools — the promise he would try to make GNU/Linux ubiquitous on the desktop.”The other day Mark crossed out one of his recruitment tools — the promise he would try to make GNU/Linux ubiquitous on the desktop. Many followed his lead, contingent on this philosophical view or implicit promise. But he let us all down. Do not trust opportunist billionaires saying they’re out to get other billionaires. You would be fodder in their Turf Wars. I should have known this even a decade ago.

At the moment, Mr. Shuttleworth seems to be part of that "dick-sucking" contest/competition which Torvalds alluded to. He had been saying a lot of positive things about Microsoft recently, so he turned from pretending to be “against Microsoft” to “working with Microsoft”. What a sellout, what a weak compass of principles. Jono Bacon and his flattery to Microsoft as of late (Microsoft is now a partner) has also been noteworthy. This is like Linspire all over again.

Canonical wants us to think Microsoft monopoly is over, but it is not. Cisco is now complaining about Microsoft monopoly in yet another area. To quote: “The Cisco Systems (CSCO) Jabber vs. Microsoft (MSFT) Skype video conferencing war has pushed beyond product features and functions, and now includes a new word: Monopoly.”

Ubuntu.com was promoting Skype in its front page even after Microsoft had bought it. Skype is insidious spyware after Microsoft changed the infrastructure and put it in the land of the NSA. Here is more on the monopoly allegation; “Last year, Cisco took its case against the Microsoft-Cisco merger to court in Europe. While it didn’t oppose the merger, the networking giant wanted EU regulators to impose rules about “standards-based interoperability.” In a blog post, Cisco VP Marthin De Beer said the very future of video communications was at risk.”

“Canonical wants us to think Microsoft monopoly is over, but it is not.”Never mind other monopolies, eh? The Italian press prints some Microsoft lies from Rebellino, a sort of Microsoft mole whose purpose seems to be seeding puff pieces like this one, printing Microsoft’s lies to portray its actions as ‘open’. Canonical does the same thing now. iophk called it “Microsoft appeasement” and cited this discussion about it. There are many comments there, almost exclusively hostile towards Canonical. Adrian Lopez wrote: “Microsoft is losing market share to tablets and smartphones, but these are shut tighter than the PC platform ever was. I’m not sure that’s something to celebrate.”

With leadership from Microsoft inside Ubuntu, this should not be totally shocking. It is almost like Ubuntu got abducted. The Microsoft booster says Shuttlewoth gave up and in Ubuntu Forums an interesting comment says: “This seems like kind of a missed opportunity. I would have liked to see this bug closed with some fanfare, maybe in conjunction with the announcement of a big OEM deal or somesuch. As it is, it sounds like Mark just sort of said, “oh, yeah, that bug. I guess we can close that now or something.” If anything, the closing and his comments about it reflect less on Ubuntu’s success and more on Canonical’s waning interest in the PC platform.”

The Shuttleworth position can be summarised as follows:

  • 2004: come join me, we’ll beat an illegal monopoly together.
  • 2013: I’m friends with Microsoft now, never mind that monopoly.

The news got covered even by NPR and some big channels, not just technology sites that offer no criticism. A few years back, Shuttleworth was comparing Microsoft criticism to racism (false and derogatory analogy, akin to him calling his critics "trolls"), showing he was starting to treat Microsoft disdain as the problems An article on this subject by John C. Dvorak, who told me he was exploring Ubuntu, is actually expressing unease at IDG. Dvorak says: “Ubuntu’s maker says Linux will never achieve the goal of overtaking Windows. This because computers—and users—are dumber than ever.”

“If you were tasked with destroying Ubuntu as quickly as possible, you would do more or less what Mark Shuttleworth is doing right now.”This is sarcasm. iophk says “Dvorak is always a bit flamebaitish, but he brings up good points from time to time. In this case his points hit home. However, he forgets about the OEM lock-in.. no-one has gotten past that yet. It could happen but restricted boot makes it harder even at the OEM level.”

If you were tasked with destroying Ubuntu as quickly as possible, you would do more or less what Mark Shuttleworth is doing right now. Pro-Linux sites covered this and Linux expert Sean Michael Kerner chose the headline “Shuttleworth Fixes Ubuntu Linux Bug #1 – But It’s Not Really Fixed Is It?”

As put by Kevin Granade in his reply to me, “setting aside portable devices (irrelevant) and MS being nice now (bullshit), Ubuntu bug #1 isn’t “fixed”, it’s “wontfix”.”

On the closing of bug #1, one person sent me this photo by E-mail. “Microsoft still has a lock on the desktop and via restricted boot is trying to complete it and make it permanent,” he said.

“Is Microsoft extorting Android? Yes, and even Mark cannot deny this.”Recently, Shuttleworth has been aiding criminals rather than fighting them. “The closure comment reads like something agreed to as part of a deal with Microsoft,” iophk told me, thinking whether it is “deal or entryism?”

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, a leading GNU/Linux pundit, says “Shuttleworth, a top business Linux leader, praised Microsoft for its support of Linux.”

Carmony #2.

“Of course, I disagree,” Pogson writes. “No thanks, Mark. I will continue the fight as long as I can whether it is convenient to continue or not. Wintel survives on ignorance.”

Here is some more coverage of interest:

  1. Angst and Anxiety Over Ubuntu’s Chosen Path

    Of course, “people and distributions do evolve,” Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C. pointed out. “Definitively, Ubuntu is no more than just a ‘friendly Debian.’ But in their quest to become a successful ‘Linux for human beings,’ they (specially guided by Mark Shuttleworth) took a very particular path.”

    Specifically, “they have made some concessions, they have sort of imposed some changes to become ‘a huge (commercial) success,’ and we can see where they got,” he added. “Many users (especially the more GNU/Linux FLOSS, community oriented) have left, and many new users seeking something that works and is easy to use have come. C’est la vie.”

  2. Ubuntu’s number 1 bug is fixed: Microsoft is no longer the enemy

    It’s really worth reminding ourselves of how, in many ways, open source won. True, it’s still hard to walk into a store and buy a PC that doesn’t have Windows preinstalled – one of the key complaints in that original bug report – but, in a way, that doesn’t matter anymore. Microsoft may still dominate the PC market, but what we traditionally think of as a PC is no longer the default personal computer. Heck, these days we even have a market-leading and (largely) open-source browser, in the shape of Chrome, that has become a significant operating system of sorts in its own right.

That’s hogwash.

Let’s recall, putting aside whether GNU/Linux ‘won’ or not, how Shuttleworth used to speak about Microsoft. Two quotes from half a decade ago:

  1. “That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.” –Mark Shuttleworth
  2. “Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.” –Mark Shuttleworth

Has any of this extortion stopped? No.

Is Microsoft extorting Android? Yes, and even Mark cannot deny this.

So, Mr. Shuttleworth, why have you befriended the Mafia? You are rapidly becoming an advocacy tool for that Mafia. You became what you hated and those who point it out are anything but “trolls” (a term he recurrently uses to describe critics).

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  1. NotZed said,

    June 2, 2013 at 4:05 am


    I just thought it was a baffling decision.

    Although i’m no real fan of ubuntu, it was basically just a fun ‘mission statement’, and removing it doesn’t seem to have anything positive associated with it at all.

  2. lozz said,

    June 2, 2013 at 11:46 am


    Linspire, yes, but even more so, Novell.

    Remember how there was this bloke called Ron Hovesepian, who thought that the Free Software Community and M$ could get down and boogie together.

    Where’s Ronnie now? Where’s Novell? Both lost somewhere in Linspireland.

    Anyone who thinks the Free Software Community and M$ can ever live in peace together is a fool, or a knave, possibly both.

    Anyway, Mark can get together with Miguel de Icaza and they can both front the new M$ Ubuntu Division.

    Ballmer will be very happy. He’s already used the Unity desktop as the basis for Windows 8.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Unity is actually more or less usable (I tried it a few times). Whenever I see VIsta 8 at the airport (and play with it for a bit as a form of research) I just find myself using a laptop as though it’s a useless phone.

  3. Needs Sunlight said,

    June 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm


    closed/won’t fix


  4. rosem said,

    June 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm


    Web apps (e.g. Gmail, Google Docs etc) and alternative post-PC devices for accessing these apps and services (e.g. smartphones, tablets) are dwarfing the traditional desktop PC and its .exe apps.

    So the desktop has become less important for mass consumers, and so for Canonical.

    On post-PC devices, Microsoft are Canonical are two notable wannabe’s, eyeing Apple and Google’s duopoly.

    I think Canonical has done, and is doing, as much as can be done for the opensource desktop, and does need to shift Ubuntu’s footprint to these other devices.

    Canonical is creating a unified platform for both desktop and mobile, with Mir, and one that caters for traditional native apps, web apps, and new “mobile” apps with its new packaging format. (As i understand, this format will safely sandbox “native” apps that consumers choose to install from a appstore.)

    Ubuntu’s strategic growth is on either side of the desktop segment, i.e. cloud on one side, and mobile on the other.

    Regarding the closing Bug #1, and language used, i believe this is strategic olive branch for Canonical in strengthening it’s relationship with Microsoft in terms of supporting Ubuntu as a cloud OS.

    Ubuntu cloud serves IT professionals, and Ubuntu on devices serves the mass market.

  5. Ken_Ham said,

    June 3, 2013 at 10:50 am


    Has Dietrich weighed in on this? I can’t form an opinion without help from Dietrich Schmitz.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “Linux Haters”, aka “Linux Advocates”, is beyond the scope of this post. After I had been invited to contribute about a dozen articles to this deceivingly-named site I learned what that site was really about.

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