Current front page of Ubuntu.com, featuring the Microsoft-dominated Dell (with Linux patent tax)
Summary: How the leadership of Ubuntu has changed and how it may relate to some strategic decisions inside the project
I ADDRESS this issue not from a position of hostility but a position of concern. I write this from a *Ubuntu box, my main workstation for years. I started using Ubuntu in 2005 (first release) and have since then publicly posted links to around 10,000 pro-Ubuntu articles, installed Ubuntu for many (even relatives of mine in the States), and helped people with all sorts of technical trouble related to it, never for a fee. I really contributed a lot to the project, not just as a user. Back in the days some people used to call me “Ubuntu shill”, accusing me of working for Ubuntu in some ways (I never had).
Ubuntu changed recently, but I perpetually tried to ignore it and dismiss all negative moves as illegitimate reasons to turn my back on the project. It has been a gradual process of consistent exacerbation. There was no last straw.
“Back in the days some people used to call me “Ubuntu shill”, accusing me of working for Ubuntu in some ways (I never had).”In short, the project became less recognisable since upstream got abandoned, some time around 2010. From not contributing to upstream (or barely contributing to it, notably the kernel, Linux) Ubuntu turned to drying up upstream, inadvertently perhaps, by creating other routes that are exclusive to Canonical. The list of such projects has been named completely in several other blogs, so I’ll spare the details. Ubuntu has been upsetting many in the community and closed down development recently (the process went into private hands). Ubuntu is deviating from upsteam, ignoring decisions and even developing in secret (neither source code nor access to read-only decision-making). How can that be? It’s evidently against the spirit, the philosophy and the motto I put my weight behind around 7 years ago.
Earlier this week it turned out that Canonical is closing down a community participation site. I heard some Ubuntu proponents trying to justify this, but their reasoning was weak and hardly persuasive. The other day I saw a link about a Ubuntu.com redesign that would further de-ephasise the community in favour of the shareholders community. Right now it’s promoting Dell, which pays Microsoft for GNU/Linux and deserves a boycott for it.
“That person, who from Microsoft, became Vice President (VP) of Ubuntu some months ago.”More relevant to my perspective is Ubuntu signing deals with Microsoft, usually accompanying those with promotional language for Microsoft, the abusive monopolist. Even UEFI Restricted Boot got assisted by Ubuntu, aiding an agenda that harms many distributions of GNU/Linux (yes, GNU too, by demoting GRUB [1, 2]). The same applies to Mono and Moonlight.
The person behind some moves that were beneficial to Microsoft, such as indirect Mono promotion (concurrent with GNU demotion [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) and adding Yahoo as a search supplier for Ubuntu (Yahoo is just a Microsoft front end), came from Microsoft itself. Guess what? That person, who from Microsoft, became Vice President (VP) of Ubuntu some months ago. Yes, Mr. Spencer is now the head of Ubuntu. He got promoted some months ago, climbing up the ladder over the years until becoming “Vice President, Ubuntu at Canonical Ltd.” He still lives in “Greater Seattle Area”, far from Canonical and much closer to Microsoft. Who might he hang out with in his spare time?
I stated a couple of times this month (in microblogs) that I had ceased promoting Ubuntu in microblogs. It’s just not worth the time and the future of the project seems less clear now that the Microsoft friendliness can be explained in terms akin to entryism.
Microsoft mentality seems to have been brought to Canonical after Red Hat too had hired from Microsoft for a top position [1, 2]. Learn a lesson from Nokia next time (if there is a next time). █
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Summary: The resemblance between Microsoft’s strategy against free Linux phones (Android) and against free GNU/Linux servers, two areas of FOSS domination
Microsoft is frantically trying to stop GNU/Linux by robbing it in the development sense. On the server side, the de facto operating system is not Windows and Microsoft would love to change that by striking deals with companies like BitNami. Here is the latest press release about it. Microsoft has been using a "man in the middle" style of attack against real FOSS (i.e. FOSS that is not tied to a proprietary stack) and the latest openwashing about it can be found here. It says: [hat tip: iophk]
Last week, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. quietly turned one year old. The birthday passed without fanfare, but next week, Microsoft plans to host a birthday party at its Silicon Valley campus.
More PR nonsense. It is not even news. All this thing should be considered to be is an attack on free systems like GNU/Linux and *BSD. Here we see, in another new press release, the Microsoft-sponsored SUSE. playing along. SUSE pays Microsoft for GNU/Linux and so does this new product from Amazon. Dell, which Microsoft is taking control of these days, favours Microsoft’s SUSE as well now.
Canonical, which has been aiding Microsoft as of late, does this too with Dell. To quote:
Dell’s (NASDAQ: DELL) not the only big-name channel partner with which Canonical, the company that develops Ubuntu Linux, has been forging closer ties lately. On Tuesday, as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced the general availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, Canonical was also playing up Ubuntu’s seamless integration into the Azure cloud platform—a move that makes much more sense than it might at first seem.
All we are seeing here is Microsoft’s attempts to tax GNU/Linux servers, making them more expensive while offering the same applications under Windows. The same strategy is being used against Android. This is not some far-fetched theory. Microsoft has been very clear about that. █
“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
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Summary: Red Hat hires Microsoft veterans and Amazon continues to do so too; Ubuntu desktop driven by a Microsoft veteran
Some worrisome news came through this press release from Red Hat, which has been too soft on Microsoft in recent months/years. As one tabloid put it:
Radhesh Balakrishnan will oversee Red Hat’s OpenStack and enterprise virtualization technologies. He used to work on Microsoft’s Azure, private cloud and data center products.
Why are they hiring from Microsoft? Amazon made that mistake several times. “Whatever it is,” says one reader of ours, “it won’t be that good for Amazon” (it hired a Microsoft AstroTurfer just now).
As a recap, years ago Amazon hired many Microsoft managers. One of them became Kindle chief and soon thereafter Amazon started paying Microsoft for Kindle’s Linux and also for the servers, i.e. Red Hat for the most part. This latest hire is of an AstroTurfer, aka “evangelist”. To quote TechCrunch: “Former Windows Phone developer evangelist, Charlie Kindel, has joined Amazon to head up an undisclosed project. Kindel left Microsoft in mid 2011 to work on his own startups but, according to his LinkedIn profile, is “now at Amazon working on something wonderful”. The profile lists him as ‘Director, something secret’ at Amazon in Seattle. That something secret may be mobile-related, judging by another paragraph of description which reads: “I’m building a new team going after a totally new area for Amazon. I’m hiring cloud and mobile developers and testers, program managers, and product managers.””
Here is more for the curious. It makes no sense unless one understands that many in the company are already from Microsoft. It’s a friend-brings-a-friend phenomenon, just like in VMware, Yahoo, and Nokia (also Microsoft-occupied).
For those who wonder why Canonical and Red Hat helped UEFI, bear in mind that a Microsoft veteran got promoted to Ubuntu desktop manager. They don’t learn about moles, do they? █
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Summary: Stallman speaks about Canonical’s distribution of GNU/Linux in new interview
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Depending on Microsoft
Summary: New *Ubuntu releases are due to Microsoft’s latest antitrust-violating/esque tactics
The new releases from Canonical (screenshots above are from DistroWatch on Friday) bring little more than UEFI-related changes that accommodate Microsoft control of hardware. Should Ubuntu users require permission from Microsoft to merely run on hardware that Microsoft does not own? As one article put it:
The Ubuntu developers at Canonical have released the second support release for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS “Precise Pangolin”. The update adds the ability to boot the Long Term Support (LTS) version on systems that are using UEFI firmware and have Secure Boot enabled. This means that there are now two versions of Ubuntu, 12.04 LTS and 12.10, that can be booted while using the protection mechanism.
Need the GNU and Linux world now bend over with special releases whose main purpose is to overcome Microsoft’s anticompetitive schemes? █
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Summary: Ubuntu One stops support of Tomboy, a notorious application best known for its pulling of Mono into numerous distributions of GNU/Linux
Based on the news from FOSDEM, Xamarin‘s Mono is rapidly collapsing. In Techrights, a prominent and longtime opponent of Mono, someone recently showed us reports about people losing data due to Ubuntu One-Tomboy connectivity.
This thread is located here and it says “tomboy deleted all my notes after last synchronisation. Something to do with ubuntu one dropping support. I’m mad as hell, somebody should have told us, my last backup was a month ago, I’ve just lost a pile of information.”
The person who brought this to our attention noted, “C# / Mono is garbage. There is also the bad design on top of the bad language which follows from importing the Microsoft mindset.”
The pulling of Tomboy support is also corroborated here:
Ubuntu One discontinues support to Tomboy
In the past I’ve talked about Tomboy, that i was not liking too much to have a Mono application in all my computers, but that Tomboy sync feature was really too good for me, well it seems that someone else has decided that it’s times for me to switch to another Notes program.
Over time we see fewer and fewer cases of support for Mono. █
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Summary: Techrights agrees with the take of the EFF on the latest Ubuntu (and now the FSF’s stance too)
LAST night when I returned home Richard Stallmanh (RMS) had finally published an article he wrote about a month ago. “RMS’ article on Ubuntu has been published,” told me one person in the IRC channels. The substance was covered in much of the press/news sites while I was away down south for a couple of days, e.g. British press with this deceiving headline which the editor probably used to get hits rather than report correctly and accurately (a colleague let me know about this article). This was covered in a lot of US media and elsewhere in the world. The truth is, I approached Stallman after the EFF had published its piece and suggested addressing the subject, saying “spyware” rather than “malware” as early drafts called Ubuntu. Yes, he originally called it “malware”, not “spyware”, arguably a subset of “malware” which is a correction I suggested because I thought it would be gentler on Canonical. I am not against Canonical or Ubuntu, but this one development in their software (which I use) required some diplomacy to fix. One must be polite to bring about change. Did Canonical acknowledge the issue and fix it? Of course not, at least not yet. It was the same with Mono. They don’t want to admit being wrong. My guess is, such settings will be silently altered in future releases. Canonical will never attribute this to angry users, the EFF, FSF, or anyone else. They think they gain respect through control. Richard Stallman once said: “Idiots can be defeated but they never admit it.”
“My guess is, such settings will be silently altered in future releases.”Mr. OpenRespect Jono Bacon posted the most widely-cited reply to Stallman’s piece. Bacon tackles the argument but uses a personal angle, which is a spurious surplus. Canonical’s official response was more polite than that.
Muktware‘s Swapnil Bhartiya stressed that what RMS is doing is not much different from what the EFF was doing; I heard Jono’s unconvincing explanation as to why when the EFF said the same it got no criticism and personal addressals like Stallman got. Anyway, others in Muktware believe that both sides have a level of validity. The important thing is, people can see that there are two sides here and decide for themselves which one suits their ideology better.
Ryan in our IRC channel said that “Jono Bacon responded with a personal attack on Richard Stallman,” but the article he linked to did not quite support it. It wasn’t an “attack”, it was relatively polite, but still, why speak of the messengers at all and distract from the message? Here is a better summary:
Canonical’s Jono Bacon has already responded with his own blog post and accuses Stallman of spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) and that at times Stallman is shortsighted.
Sam Varghese covered this properly as well:
The founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard M. Stallman, has slammed Ubuntu over its provision of Amazon search results for a regular search, prompting Canonical’s community manager, Jono Bacon, to hit back, accusing him of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).
The responses from Microsoft boosters at Ars Technica (even former Microsoft boosters of Ars Technica) did the usual thing, which is incitation against Stallman’s stance and views. Jon Gold, another FOSS hater and colleague of the aforementioned Microsoft booster, covered this too. They attack Ubuntu and Stallman at the same time. In some sense it is helpful to Microsoft, but this was intended by neither side. One writer called Stallman “the grand old man of open source software” — this sounds wrong for so many reasons!
Anyway, the important thing is, Ubuntu has a privacy problem. Canonical should acknowledge this and fix it, not stick to its guns for some profit from Amazon (which they make at the expense of Ubuntu users’ rights). Make Ubuntu the product, don’t make Ubuntu users the product. █
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Defeating barriers to GNU/Linux booting
Summary: The FSF posts an update on Ubuntu and its decision to keep GRUB
Ubuntu decided to provide details on partitioning new (GPT) hard disks when using UEFI firmware. Canonical did this after it had helped legitimise the anticompetitive scheme.
Stallman et al. have been critical of UEFI support and the FSF has this update which says:
Ubuntu has decided to stick with GRUB 2 after all; 48 organizations and over 37,000 people have signed the statement opposing Restricted Boot, but Microsoft’s new tablet is hitting stores.
Think twice before purchasing Microsoft’s new ARM-based tablet, especially if you are hoping to replace the new Windows RT operating system, with a free software operating system such as GNU/Linux or Android. These new devices ship with Restricted Boot, which prevents you from installing free software on the device.
If it wasn’t for public pressure, Ubuntu would not have kept its original bootloader which is licensed under the GPLv3. We must therefore continue to pressure Canonical to remove the antifeature which is Amazon spyware in desktop (local disk) search. Canonical does respond to pressure, even if it never admits this (Yahoo search is one example, but Mono may be another). █
“Idiots can be defeated but they never admit it.”
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