Canonical walks the talk with Launchpad release

It may not have the cash to push hardware through the channel, but Canonical walks the open source talk. Even at risk of its business health.

Say this about Canonical, Ubuntu's sponsor.

It may not have the cash to push hardware through the channel, but Canonical walks the open source talk.

Even at risk of its business health.

Its release of the source code for its Launchpad "forge" service under the GPL Affero license has our own Matt Asay asking, incredulously, whether it has just given away its business model.

No, Matt, it hasn't. It has just doubled-down on the open source process.

The creation of project hosting sites, colloquially called "forges" after Sourceforge, the original market leader, may be the most important service a project, or the company behind it, can offer customers and developers.

For companies like Appcelerator, the forge is the business. The company has combined its .com and .org sites into one, realizing that it's the nurturing of community that builds a company in the open source world.

Plain-vanilla hosting isn't good enough. You have to have forums, you have to have ways to reward those who participate in the forums and those who offer code. You have to be responsive, so users and developers feel they are part of a shared experience.

The business has grown even more competitive with both Google and Microsoft offering services to third-party developers. So what else can Launchpad bring to the party other than the opportunity to build its own code base?

There is no choice. It must get by with a little help from its friends.

And Canonical has a lot of friends. Its reputation is stellar. When Google, Yahoo and Microsoft decided to embrace the idea of a common tag to reduce duplicate content, the tag name they agreed on was canonical. When I questioned Canonical's size in June, the post drew 386 talkbacks.  (And no death threats either.)

The idea of open source business is that you make it on your reputation. Maybe that idea is flawed. Matt certainly believes it may be. And he may be right, for most companies.

But not for Canonical. Its name remains the gold standard in terms of corporate adherence to the open source ideal.

It has proven again that trust is not misplaced.

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