Shuttleworth defends Ubuntu's Linux contributions

Shuttleworth defends Ubuntu's Linux contributions

Summary: Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux, defends Ubuntu's contributions to Linux.


Shuttleworth insists that Ubuntu, and friends, do contribute to Linux.

Shuttleworth insists that Ubuntu, and friends, do contribute to Linux.

Lots of companies, even Microsoft, contribute to the Linux kernel. When you look at the top 20 list of who's been contributing to Linux's heart, you'll find many familiar Linux names such as Novell (now SUSE), Red Hat, and The Linux Foundation. Who you won't find is Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company. Some people wonder how Microsoft could do more for Linux than Canonical does. Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu's founder, has a response to such claims: "Our focus is on the user experience, making things 'Just Work.'"

In an e-mail, Shuttleworth explained to me that, "Stabilizing and maintaining the kernel is very important to Ubuntu. We have 25 or more kernel engineers at Canonical, focused on device enablement from ARM through to Xeon, and QA [Quality Assurance]. Our focus is on the user experience, making things 'Just Work,' and quality. The kernel team plays an important role in making Ubuntu so easy to use on everybody's laptops, servers and clouds, and they maintain arguably the most widely used kernels in Ubuntu releases."

Specifically, "Our teams have lead the ARM tree unification effort in Linaro, and we lead Linux kernel efforts among the vendors that ship devices with Ubuntu. We also maintain AppArmor, which is a security framework that takes the rigor of SELinux [Security Enhanced Linux] and makes it easy to use."

Shuttleworth admits that "Nevertheless, the kernel is a tiny part of the user experience of Ubuntu, and we don't lead kernel development as a particular goal. We lead with Unity, with MAAS [Metal as a Service], with Juju [Ubuntu's service management tool] and with other tools that make Linux a fantastic environment for developers, system administrators and end-users alike."

He has a point.

Sure, the Linux kernel is important. Without it nothing else could run. But, as Shuttleworth points out, Canonical does contribute a lot to the larger Linux community. In addition, Ubuntu has helped broaden Linux's audience, and Ubuntu itself is the basis for other popular Linux distributions such as Linux Mint, Peppermint OS, and Turnkey Linux. The bottom line is Ubuntu may not have contributed that much to lines of code in the Linux kernel, but it's made big contributions to Linux in a larger sense.

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Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • LinuxMint (based on Ubuntu) has everything right after installation.

    My family likes the Gnome version, 64-bit, LinuxMint 12 with Cinnamon. I also have a dual boot with the 64-bit, KDE version LinuxMint 12 KDE. Both can be transitioned to from Windows without any learning curve. It's used every day with no AV. In fact they can be used by anyone with no AV. Nothing crashes and no worries when accessing financial information.

    Totally free with no WGA or product activation. New versions are introduced evey 6 months. I download the 1.2 GB iso file in four minutes (FIOS), create an installation disk using K3B in about 5 minutes and installation takes about 30 minutes. Drivers are included, but I like to add the ATI Linux driver for my PCI 16X 2GB dual head graphics card. This, like the original open source driver, provides 1680 x 1050 resolution. I find the fastest and most stable internet performance using Google Public DNS. (,

    Other free applications come from the free 30,000+ repository or from trusted sites.

    Typical free applications include Firefox, LibreOffice (emulates Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint plus others), Google Chrome 64-bit, Chromium, Opera, Lynx, Google Picasa, Google Earth, Filezilla, Truecrypt, Ad-Block Plus, VLC Media Player and K3B.

    It has totally simplified computer maintenance, security and repair over the last 10 years. I'm using an 64-bit, HP dual core, 1.7 Ghz desktop with 2 GB of RAM and an Acer 19" monitor with an illuminated Logitech keyboard (Y-UY95) and Wacom MTE-45 bamboo digitizer tablet and pen. New, the desktop cost $239.00 a couple of years ago. It's very fast, doesn't crash and the Wacom driver comes with the original Linux install.
    • No AV on linux ... am I with stupid?

      Just because Linux doesn't get attacked much, doesn't mean you can throw out all regard for AV/FW and Malware scanners.

      And so you may not get infected, but you might help spread the infection because your own doesn't know the attachments you're forwarding are bits of infectious code ...

      yeah.. I am *not* with stupid. And you can look around there's a new post/article about 600k macs being infected and under a bot net CnC server due to a java flaw... its just a matter of what fruit the hacker/cracker wants to go after. Lowest hanging or low hanging rather than the top of the tree.
      • Linux doesn't get infected because the source code is secure.

        It's not Windows. Prove it to yourself. Install Mint and go click around anywhere on the internet without regard to safety. Click email attachments. Bottom Line, you or your family members will not get a rootkit, TDL-4 or other problem. Have you tried Linux and have you tried to get infected? Answer that one question.

        As far as handling files, why should I use my resources to run CLAM AV to guard against the garbage Windows that always needs AV and even with AV still gets infected? Windows should be driven off the face of the earth for all the grief and financial misery it has cost.

        Please read or at least skim through this article. I've tried for over a year to get ZDNet to acknowledge TDL-4 and they wouldn't do it, even the great phoney Ed Bott wouldn't even touch it with a 10 foot pole. It the botnet that infected over 4 million Windows users in the first 3 months of 2011. (I don't have to deal with any of this)

        [i]"In 64-bit Windows, Patchguard is meant to prevent drivers which do not have a valid signature from being loaded into the kernel. TDL4 therefore disables this feature by making the system think that it is booting into the WinPE system restore mode ??? in which Patchguard is disabled ??? early in the boot process.

        Once the system has decided that it should boot without loading Patchguard, the rootkit turns WinPE mode back off and the system continues booting the normal version of Windows ??? but with no Patchguard. Because of this trickery, TDL is often referred to as a bootkit. The whole process takes place invisibly in the background, so that the user has no opportunity to notice that something is wrong. Indeed Microsoft felt compelled to patch the 64-bit Windows bootloader as part of its April patch day."[/i]

        Apple is not Linux. I don't spend time researching Apple issues. I have used OpenBSD which is what Apple is originally based on. Apple users I know don't ever complain about it. OpenBSD works very well.
    • So what?

      What has that got to do with the article? No one gives a care what OS you run, or why you run it, or why you don't run another OS in its place. The article was about the kernel and why Canonical isn't listed at the top of the list of contributors.
      • Why not provide a testimonial? I'm proud of it and a lot of people could benefit.

        Fact of the matter is it's been a great ride for over 10 years. It's astounding that I'm just using an older 1.7 GHz processor and getting such impressive results, but that's the way Linux works. The fact that my daughter has used it since freshman year in HS and is now a Junior in college is testimony to the quality of Mint and LIbreOffice and OpenOffice. (never a service call)

        Sorry if it bothers you, but Ubuntu is not LinuxMint, and LinuxMint offers so much more than Ubuntu for the Windows user contemplating a switch to Linux. Who does what to the kernel isn't going to make any sense to a Windows user? Is it? So, maybe someone does care after all.
      • actually

        no, no one cares. The article is about Ubuntu, not what you happen to run, and by the way, when you talk about hacks, just contact a few of the folks that downloaded hacked apps from the Google store for Android.

        True, it wasn't Linux, it was Android, and it was infected applications, but no one really cares. All they know is that they got hacked and the Linux / Android community pretty much stood by and yelled how wonderful Android security is.

        Those folks do care, but as for your 10 year old machine running whatever, no, we really don't care.
      • Android was trojans. Do you realize what a Trojan is?

        A trojan problem has nothing to do with the security of the OS. People download and install from untrusted sources. Android is Linux and Android is just fine.

        A trojan would affect any OS regardless of security and there is no defense against it.

        That's why I use trusted sources and the 30,000+ program free repository available through the software manager in Ubuntu and MInt.
      • And with 99% of Linux users using Google

        where does that leave the community.

        Honestly, people like you what gives Open Source a bad name. Always screaming -I'm RIGHT and they are all WRONG! If you scream louder, you get ignored more.

        And, no one cares about what you run or foolish claims that don't matter.

        All anyone that got a "trojan" knew is that Android got hacked. They don't know or care about the difference.

        Now run along. No one cares.
      • Google is Linux.

        Google works better than anything else out there, and they use Linux 100% on over a million servers.

        I've used Gmail since 2005 and have 73,897 emails, many with 8 MB attachments. Google Picasa is fantastic, since it automatically finds every photograph on your computer and the DNS is flawless and provides phishing protection.

        Google may not completely be open source but they have done more for open source than anyone else.

        Someone jailbreaking an Android or Apple phone is intentionally trying to install un-trusted apps and is taking a great risk. --> They deserve what they get and it has nothing to do with the design of the phone. If they don't see it that way, they are just being stupid with an expensive toy. I don't use un-trusted apps with Linux and I haven't had any problems in 10 years without ever using AV.

        It's just a dumb phone, why try to play with it until it bricks? That's pretty easy to understand.
      • Your comments still have nothing to do with this thread

        Still trying to figure out why you think anyone cares about your comments, the thread is about Ubuntu, not Google or your personal installation. Keep babbling if you wish. It just confirms that thing about yelling louder.
      • Speak for yourself, not others

        I, for one, [b]AM[/b] interested in what experience others have of various distros and other operating systems. That way I don't have try out each of them first; I can garner a selection of opinions and experiences and distil this down to save me the trouble. Pretty much what I do before getting [i]any[/i] product.
  • Am still waiting for Ubuntu's guest session to be ported upstream to Debian

    It's a great Ubuntu feature. What gives?

    My point is that Ubuntu, a derived distro, is based on Debian. (Steven failed to mention this in his article.) Does Canonical contribute sufficiently upstream to Debian? Note that I would not expect Ubuntu One to move upstream to Debian as it is a service provided by Canonical and is Ubuntu-specific.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • What is the deal here?

    I am a committed Linux user. Have been for 13 years. I saw the article about the top 20 contributors to the Linux kernel now had Microsoft in it. First, I did not even consider the possibility that Ubuntu would be on that list.

    Secondly I would not have expect Mark Shuttleworth felt he had to defend Ubuntu over this point.

    Thanks for the article. it sounds like I have confirmation now that Ubuntu actually does contribute code to the Linux kernel. Not that I ever doubted they did. I just did not think that was their focus. I would expect them to send more patches upstream to a project like Firefox or Gnome than the the Kernel developers.
  • Agree!

    We need all these contributions in the GNU/Linux world! Thanks Red Hat for the things in the kernel, thanks Canonical for making Linux work on ARM machines also, thanks EVERYONE doing ANYTHING for the growth of GNU/Linux... and totally free!!!
    God bless you all.
    Happy Easter.
  • It's not just about contributing

    Ubuntu helped popularize Linux like crazy. It was one of the first distros that was truly easy to install and use, and spread much faster than anything else before it.
    I personally stick with Mint + LXDE but Ubuntu brought Linux to a whole lot of people.
    • The 1st easy to install??? It wasn't even the 2nd

      The 1st easy to install distro was Mandrake (later re-named to Mandriva) and Suse soon followed. And that is ignoring the many other distros that weren't popular but extremely easy to install.

      Ubuntu became popular because it fixed a lot of garbage on GNOME and they added configuration GUIs that were desperately needed. Yes, Ubuntu is technically easy to install and configure out-of-the-box (specially compared to some of the mayor commercial distros). But it wasn't the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd distro to be easy to install and configure.
      • No mandrake wasn't the first.

        The first easy to install linux distro was SLS.
        Later Slackware was released to improve SLS.
        Even later Redhat showed up to improve the experience of Slackware.
        Then Mandrake entered the arena in order to improve Redhat...
      • Using Linux since Yggdrasil

        I am betting most people will not even know what Yggdrasil Linux was. It was a REALLY early Linux distribution. It was one of the first easy to use Linux, or at least try to be that. I went through Suse, Redhat, Mandriva, Fedora, you name it...

        Only Ubuntu made Linux usable for the desktop!!! With Ubuntu and the 11.04 release I could finally jettison all of my Windows boxes and just use Linux. 12.04 IMO is quite amazing... I have even come to appreciate Unity.

        So why am I saying that Ubuntu was the first? Because it was the first where you really could just use things out of the box. All of the other "easy to use" Linux distributions always had issues, like dual monitors, or Wifi, or not being able to automatically connect to my smart phone and use it as a networking endpoint, or changing your IP to static. This is what Ubuntu did well, they fixed the garbage in Linux. I know from a personal experience the other Linux's came close, but did not go that extra mile.
      • Slackware easy?

        I've been at it off and on since 1994, and I think Debian made some of installation pain easier. I use Ubuntu for the utilities, but I don't see a lot of improvement where it counts (do I really need to keep sudoing a shell to get nautilus to allow me to edit files). Still too many hoops when compared to other mainstream OSes.
  • Shame

    It's a shame that they took an OS famed for its power to put the User in the driving seat and replaced that seat with a one size fits all cheap plastic bench that few can sit on comfortably and then, when people complained about the new bench, sneered at them and called them names in public.

    Ubuntu - an ancient word meaning 'an unrecognisable mess'.