Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

Summary: Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth shot back against detractors today, pointing out that his project has made Linux more marketable and successful on the desktop.

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Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth shot back against detractors today, pointing out that his project has made Linux more marketable and successful on the desktop.

His comments were posted in response to a recently published survey revealing that Canonical -- the commercial arm of Ubuntu -- has contributed only about one percent of the code to the GNOME desktop for Linux. while Red Hat accounts for 17 percent of the code and Novell developers are responsible for about 11 percent.

"In recent weeks it’s been suggested that Canonical’s efforts are self-directed and not of benefit to the broader open source community. That’s a stinging criticism because most of us feel completely the opposite," Shuttleworth wrote in his blog today.

Canonical's contribution to Linux -- making Ubuntu a viable competitor to Windows and Macintosh on the desktop -- should not be overlooked, he added.

"When Ubuntu was conceived, the Linux ecosystem was in a sense fully formed. We had a kernel. We had GNOME and KDE. We had X and libc and GCC and all the other familiar tools. Sure they had bugs and they had shortcomings and they had roadmaps to address them. But there was something missing: sometimes it got articulated as marketing sometimes as end-user focus. I remember thinking that’s what I could bring. So Ubuntu, and Canonical, have quite explicitly NOT put effort into things which are obviously working quite well, instead, we’ve tried to focus on new ideas and new tools and new components. I see that as an invigorating contribution to the broader open source ecosystem, and I hear from many people that they perceive it the same way."

Shuttleworth said Canonical's major contribution has been to popularize Linux on the desktop -- and grow the end user base. And that's what's needed most, he claims.

Those who say 'but Canonical doesn’t do X' may be right, but that misses all the things we do, which weren’t on the map beforehand. Of course, there’s little that we do exclusively, and little that we do that others couldn’t if they made that their mission, but I think the passion of the Ubuntu community, and the enthusiasm of its users, reflects the fact that there is something definitively new and distinctive about the project," Shuttleworth wrote. "That’s something to celebrate, something to be proud of, and something to motivate us to continue."

"Free software is bigger than any one project," he noted. "It’s bigger than the Linux kernel, it’s bigger than GNU, it’s bigger than GNOME and KDE, it’s bigger than Ubuntu and Fedora and Debian. Each of those projects plays a role, but it is the whole which is really changing the world."

Shuttleworth admonished those who threw darts at Canonical.

"When we start to argue with one another from the perspective of any one slice of free software, we run the risk of missing the bigger picture. That’s a bit like an auto-immune disease, where the body starts to attack itself," he said. "By definition, someone else who is working hard all day long to bring free software to a wider audience is on the same side as me, compared to 99% of the rest of the world, if I want to think in terms of sides. I admire and respect everyone who puts energy into advancing the cause of free software, even if occasionally I might differ on the detail of how it can be done."

He's got a point. I remember the excitement generated a few years back when Michael Dell publicly applauded the Ubuntu desktop and Dell's decision to preload Ubuntu on select PCs. Now that deal per se was not a big success, but it shifted perception about the potential of Linux on the desktop in a far more signifiant way than Red Hat or Novell ever did.

Both Canonical's Ubuntu and Google's Android are open source Linux projects that have advanced the cause of Linux, even if the implementations have stirred controversy within the open source community.  That has to be good for open source.

Topics: Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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45 comments
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  • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

    Internal fighting in the linux ecosystem, yet another reason why its destined to fail. Mark shouldn't be concerned about Ubuntu considering he had to quit his job with them.
    Loverock Davidson
    • I doubt it.

      @Loverock Davidson
      I am a Windows programmer but feel quite comfortable in OS X or Ubuntu. There is a bit of in-fighting in the Linux but I seriously doubt that Linux will fail. It has way too much support. IBM, Oracle, HP, Dell, just to name a few.

      Will it take over, maybe, but not anytime soon.
      DevGuy_z
      • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

        @DevGuy_z
        The failings have already started. Somewhere between Linus giving his approval for Microsoft Windows 7, admitting that linux is a disaster and considering quitting the project, then Mark Shuttleworth quitting his job, recent stats showing linux is on the decline, and now the fighting amongst peers. Linux has its days numbered.
        Loverock Davidson
    • Rubberock how is it you always mannage to arrive first everytime

      there is a article on Linux.. Its like you get inside information about whats coming out ahead of everyone else. This way your always putting your poison pen (FUD) to work to start of the talk back. Your constant dribble is so out dated and your not nearly as funny as Mike Cox used to be.. Ever think of retiring your sthic? :-(
      Over and Out
      • Message has been deleted.

        Steve__Jobs
    • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

      @Loverock Davidson
      I have used Ubuntu for three years and used UNIX before Windows existed. I once had a tech ask me why Windows couldn't be as easy to learn as UNIX. This was eons ago and it hasn't changed!
      BTW: I read these blogs just to see what you have to say! You are funny. Do you live in an ecosystem or a sewer system?
      saneu
      • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

        @saneu@...
        Thanks for reading! Glad to know people come here purposely just to see me! :) I love my fans! I don't understand why in the world you would go from UNIX to linux. That is like a huge downgrade. So I just won't believe you made such a statement.
        Loverock Davidson
      • Funny... But...

        @saneu@...
        Most Windows users would probably say the same of *nix. I dunno. It's probably also true for OSX users. Then again, OSX, these days has *Nix under the pretty interface.

        Maybe it's one of those "what you know" kinda things.
        Wolfie2K3
      • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

        @saneu@...

        `Do you live in an ecosystem or a sewer system? `

        I choked on the coffee I was drinking.

        I tend to believe it is the latter choice.
        fatman65535
    • I wish These posts had the originator listed up front

      @Loverock Davidson
      Then I could Ignore yours faster...
      Papa_Bill
      • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

        @becabill
        Why would you want to do that? I'm full of great IT knowledge. Its best if you didn't.
        Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

    Would desktop Linux have reached its current level of use without Ubuntu? I wager not. By bringing desktop Linux more into the public eye they have given the code contributors more to program for. Any abuse of such is akin to a company hassling its marketing arm for not contributing directly to the design of products. OK - bad analogy, but I think you see where I'm coming from.
    rikasa
    • I wouldn't use Linux at all

      @rikasa
      Without Ubuntu. I'm not a computer expert by any stretch of the imagination and Ubuntu makes Linux accessible to me. I would pay more for Linux software than Windows for a number of reasons. I hope that eventually much more is written as Ubuntu/Linux gains wider acceptance. I'm thoroughly fed up with MS's attempts to squeeze more and more out of my wallet for an OS that is less and less flexible. requires more and more resources and outmodes my peripherals for no gain.
      Papa_Bill
  • promotion to the masses is as important as source code

    I agree with the concept that marketing is equally important as writing source code. Frankly I have always used OpenSuse and never installed Ubuntu , so to the particular case of Ubuntu having promoted the Linux case , I do not know. I have been on Open suse since 10.x and I would say it too offers a very solid user experience.
    kpthottam
  • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

    Linux has traditionally focused on niche tech segment of the market, not the desktop. Ubuntu addresses the desktop. Anything that gives this techie - "hard to wrap your head around OS," popularity, should be hailed as good for entire Linux community. History testifies that Linux-heads are incapable of delivering an OS that is for the masses. Ubuntu begins to seriously break the mold. This in fighting does not help at all. It does demonstrate how much the Linux community is out of touch of making Linux more popular.
    rickblanc
  • Controversy shows our innate respect 4 the notion of intellectual property

    I saw Mark Shuttleworth's posting and wrote about this as well. In my blog posting I also make reference to a similar controversy surrounding Red Hat more than a decade ago, and to MySQL's business model, which resulted in the opposite accusation (too much contributed by just one company).

    http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2010/09/ubuntu-contribution-controversy.html
    FlorianMueller
    • RE: Founder: Ubuntu's contribution goes beyond the code tree

      @FlorianMueller
      You can type "Controversy" and "intellectual", but not "for"? 4shame
      cwallen198031
      • Ease up. How wud u abbr "intellectual: or "controversy"

        @cwallen19803@...
        DevGuy_z
      • He may have run out of room to type out FOR...

        @cwallen19803@...
        Eh.. It happens.
        Wolfie2K3
      • "4shame"???

        @cwallen19803@...

        He had a case of fast brain, slow fingers.

        That has happened to me more times than I want to count.

        There! I did it in the last sentence, (typed `ot`instead of `to`) but, I saw it (and fixed it) before I posted this remark.

        Geez, get a life.
        fatman65535