Ubuntu moves some Linux development inside

Ubuntu moves some Linux development inside

Summary: Ubuntu is going to do some Linux development behind closed doors for the next release, and that's not a big deal.

TOPICS: Ubuntu, Linux
Ubuntu 12.10

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and its popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, announced in his blog that they'll be working on some new features behind closed doors for the next release.

Shuttleworth wrote, ""Mapping out the road to 13.04, there are a few items with high 'tada!' value that would be great candidates for folk who want to work on something that will get attention when unveiled. While we won’t talk about them until we think they are ready to celebrate, we’re happy to engage with contributing community members that have established credibility (membership, or close to it) in Ubuntu, who want to be part of the action."

This news came immediately after the release of Ubuntu 12.10.. Shuttleworth knows, "The skunkworks approach has its detractors. We’ve tried it both ways, and in the end, figured out that critics will be critics whether you discuss an idea with them in advance or not. Working on something in a way that lets you refine it till it feels ready to go has advantages: you can take time to craft something, you can be judged when you’re ready, you get a lot more punch when you tell your story, and you get your name in lights (though not every headline is one you necessarily want. ;-)"

Slideshow: Say hello to Ubuntu 12.10 Linux

Some have already suggested that Shuttleworth is doing this because Ubuntu's switch to its Unity interface has proven unpopular. That doesn't seem likely to me.

True, some people still don't like the new-user friendly Unity, but that's old news. Besides, other Linux desktop interfaces, such as GNOME 3.x, have arrived to far more hostile reactions. Indeed, Linus Torvalds recently declared GNOME 3.4 to be a "total user experience design failure.."

Others, such as Fedora Linux developer Christoph Wickert see Ubuntu adopting a more closed development system. Shuttleworth disagrees that Ubuntu is becoming more closed.

In a follow up blog, Shuttleworth said, "Nothing in yesterday’s post about inviting members of the community into some of the projects we work on in confidence implied that the Ubuntu development process is becoming less open."

He continued, "Ubuntu set the standard for transparency a long time ago, when we invited anybody who showed a passion and competence to have commit and upload rights, a strong contrast with the Fedora policy of the time, which required you to be a Red Hat (http://www.redhat.com) employee. We continue that tradition with a leadership Community Council that has no requirement of Canonical employment, unlike our competitors. And we invite everyone to participate in the design and development of Ubuntu, which happens in public at UDS (Ubuntu Development Summit) ... and online on IRC and Launchpad."

Fedora, while still under Red Hat's control, has long abandoned requiring its developers to be Red Hat employees. Other Linux distribitions, such as SUSE and its community branch openSUSE and Google with Android  have gone through similar phases of closing and re-opening their doors to the public. Eventually, once the operating systems are released, all the code is always revealed. 

So what is Shuttleworth doing? He wrote, "What I offered to do, yesterday, spontaneously, is to invite members of the community in to the things we are working on as personal projects, before we are ready to share them. This would mean that there was even less of Ubuntu that was NOT shaped and polished by folk other than Canonical – a move that one would think would be well received. This would make Canonical even more transparent."

He concluded, "So please disregard the commentary by folk who assumed that the public discussion of Ubuntu development would somehow change. Instead, I hope you will welcome the idea that even Canonical’s most exciting initiatives will now be open to participation by members of the community. And I challenge you to find another place where you can participate at EVERY level in the design and construction of a free platform that is used by millions of people."

This all strikes me as a tempest in a teacup. Almost all the Linux distributions do some of their work behind closed doors until they're ready to show their work off in public. Those few that don't, Debianbeing the biggest example, are known for their very slow, and often argumentative, development process.

If Shuttleworth and Canonical want to keep some projects quiet until they're ready for show and tell, they're just doing what many Linux distributors have done long before them. Instead of wasting time and energy on who's more open than someone else, all the Linux developers should be focusing their attention on developing the best possible operating system. Arguing like this only benefits Linux's operating system rivals: Mac OS X and Windows and doesn't help Linux, or any of its distributions.

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Topics: Ubuntu, Linux

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  • Ubuntu moves some Linux development inside

    Not a big deal? Working behind closed doors goes against everything linux stands for. I remember all that crap linux fanboys were spreading about how anyone could take the code and modify it however they want and here we have Canonical taking the closed source approach. This has fail written all over it. Trying to keep it secret to hopefully generate some buzz. The only buzz is people are ditching linux because of stunts like this. No code, no go.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Now you understand. No OS should have close source code!

      Thank you for finally understanding! :D
      • Why Not? Please explain

        why software should be treated differently then everything else?
        William Farrel
      • I think you missed his sarcasm

        after all, bringing development in house makes Ubuntu resemble MS, doesn't it?
        • RE: I think you missed his sarcasm

          Microsoft is really a bad example as their OS code is proprietary. Google, with Android and Chrome OS, is a much better example as [most of ] their code gets released as open-source. However, Canonical has a long way to go if it wants to catch up with Google's open-source development process.

          P.S. I don't think believe that Mr. Davidson "gets" sarcasm (or irony).
          Rabid Howler Monkey
      • mistaken

        linux operating system is licensed only under GPLv2 and it allows closed source modules to be developed and distributed. But yo can not compile or distribute them in Linux.
        Closed source does allow those who are scared to develop device drivers or OS functions as modules where Linux's monolithic architecture does allow to do so, to use Linux operating system in their special purpose needs.

        Example, you can not make open source image watermark algorithm because knowing the algorithm allows other to remove the watermark from image file. Encrypting files or signing is other thing where you can have open source algorithm.

        Canonical here isnt doing closed source but closed development, meaning that they have code in their intranet and accessible by their developers by VPN and code has not yet been licensed so it is proprietary and owned by canonical from all parts what is written by them. Even when code has been licensed under open source license, it is still closed development when others can not get access to it and contribute.

        There is nothing moral wrong doing there, just plain stupidity as community can not help to fix bugs, give insights and input and wishes and most important, give testing support. But closed development gives project members time to work in small group without dealing so much diplomacy for others or explaining what they want and hear all kind stupid wishes or whines.

        I personally choose open development model but it demans your team has members who can take care of that, what isn't possible in small projects or what are more technical.
    • More CRAP from Loverock (M$ fanboy) Davidson

      Go back under the bridge you've done your usual trolling.
      Over and Out
    • Can some shut the Windows please ?

      The farmer is spreading manure on his fields again and it's letting in an awful smell.
      Alan Smithie
      • Just liek you do,

        Alan Smithie. ;)
        William Farrel
    • Go back to drinking your MS KoolAid

      Loverock, everybody knows you are a Microsoft fanboy, never open to anything unless it comes directly from Redmond.
      Thomas Mc
    • Did you not read the article?

      This is not a closed source approach! This is an approach to manage expectations. Sadly people in the community (eg like you above) have this theory, "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude. These guys just want to manage expectations and are sick and tired of people complaining, and complaining. This is called meritocracy and Apache uses it all the time.
    • Linux Fetish, LoveCock?

      LD, you seem to always post first on these articles? How is it that you have so much time to sit around waiting for an article on Linux... still live in mama's basement, or do you have a Linux fetish?
    • Huh?

      As long as they release the code developed, they fulfill the open source objective. Just because each of the minutiae involved is not shown along the way means nothing. It's the end product of their development that needs to be released. And nothing that Shuttleworth says in this article or in the links says otherwise.
    • you are mistaken

      You now mistake closed source and closed development. They are totally different things.

      Do not include Linux to your FUD as it just makes you even more trollish.
  • Tada Feature? perhaps undo the bloat?

    I really want to like Ubuntu but as a power user ifeel it is too bloated and slow and feels less and less like linux with a windows manager and more like a Mac with OS X. I use Fedora Core(for a fiddle free desktop distro) which is in similiar shape just not as far down the bloat road.
    • What kind of hardware are you running?

      CPU? RAM? Storage?
      • RE: What kind of hardware are you running?

        Good point. Unity requires a lot of resources. It works perfectly fine on my 6-core plus ATI GPU with 8GB of RAM, etc. It isn't too hot on my netbook with an Atom and 1GB of RAM. It is a dog on my Pandaboards, but usable. It is almost a no-show on my BeagleBoard.

        Dropping Unity on the lower machines and replacing it with XFCE4 (or loading Xubuntu on that hardware that have distros) and it cooks. It isn't the distro, per se, it is Unity that is the dog.

        I've used Suse, Fedora, and whatever they renamed Mandrake to over the years and prefer Ubuntu.
        • Eh? @rreinhold058

          Why on earth are you using Ubuntu on those devices? You are not suppose to. Use an embedded linux.
          • RE: Eh?

            Those devices are not just for embedded development. They are development plaforms around SOC chips used in cell phones, tablets, and even smartbooks (M$ has redefined the term Netbook). And the fact that you can run the same app on your desktop as your cell phone with little more than a recompile says a lot as to how far Linux development has come.
        • Yea, Ubuntu kills my Atom

          It's been like that since 11.04.

          I think 12.04 is meant for a Core i3 or better although I would recommend a Core i5 if you want the 64-bit version. Also less than 2GB of RAM is going to be problem. I just upgraded my Asus EE, it still sucks with 12.04 but it's usable now.