​Ubuntu's Shuttleworth: Free software zealots are antisocial muppets who love to hate

Ubuntu's main backer, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, has had enough of "muppets" opposing its free software contributions.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Shuttleworth said he became "disgusted with the hate on Mir", which has changed his opinion of the free software community.

Image: Canonical

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu developer Canonical, has condemned some in the free software community who he believes hate everything that's mainstream.

Shuttleworth aired his grievances in a Google+ post in which he initially thanked contributors to Canonical's soon-to-be abandoned Unity desktop interface, but which he later used to criticize the "antisocial types who love to hate on whatever is mainstream".

The question that triggered Shuttleworth's rebuke asked whether Canonical will continue its work on Mir, its desktop display server and alternative to Wayland.

Canonical had hoped Unity would bring convergence to desktops, tablets and phones, but last week Shuttleworth said next year's release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will revert to the RedHat-backed GNOME.

A Canonical spokesperson told Ars Technica that going forward with GNOME and abandoning mobile would necessitate quitting Mir and replacing it with Wayland.

Shuttleworth acknowledged in the original GNOME announcement that the community took Canonical's work on Unity as "fragmentation not innovation", while manufacturers didn't take up the implementation.

"I respect that markets, and community, ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear," he said.

But Shuttleworth's reply to the question about Mir's future suggests he's deeply disillusioned with how some members of the community went about that process, given the work that goes into making free software available.

He clarified that Mir actually does have a future in IoT projects where it's being used as a compositor, but complained the "Mir hate-fest" was being steered by "muppets" with political objectives. Shuttleworth labelled opponents of Mir the Open Source Tea Party when it first released the software.

"The whole Mir hate-fest boggled my mind -- it's free software that does something invisible really well," he wrote.

"It became a political topic as irrational as climate change or gun control, where being on one side or the other was a sign of tribal allegiance. We have a problem in the community when people choose to hate free software instead of loving that someone cares enough to take their life's work and make it freely available," he continued.

Shuttleworth said he became "disgusted with the hate on Mir" and that this changed his opinion of the free software community.

"I used to think that it was a privilege to serve people who also loved the idea of service, but now I think many members of the free software community are just deeply antisocial types who love to hate on whatever is mainstream," he wrote.

"When Windows was mainstream they hated on it. Rationally, Windows does many things well and deserves respect for those. And when Canonical went mainstream, it became the focus of irrational hatred too.

"The very same muppets would write about how terrible it was that IOS/Android had no competition and then how terrible it was that Canonical was investing in (free software!) compositing and convergence. F*** that s***."

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