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Is Ubuntu a Free Software Freeloader?

Geekfight!

  • August 3, 2010
  • By Bruce Byfield
Bruce Byfield

Another geekfights roils the sphere-o-sphere; this time it's accusations that Ubuntu is a glory hound and a code hog. Bruce Byfield peers into the smoke and flames to find out where is the beef.

Ubuntu is a distribution that people have strong feelings about, both pro and con. Last week, those feelings erupted again after former Red Hat employee and Fedora community architect Greg DeKoenigsberg ranted about Ubuntu's contributions to the GNOME desktop in his blog.

DeKoenigsberg has since apologized, but the issue is still worth a closer look, because it raises several issues about how the free software community works and one of its unspoken expectations.

DeKoenigsberg based his comments on Dave Neary's analysis of contributions to the GNOME 2.30 release. Speaking at GUADEC, the yearly meeting of GNOME programmers, Neary was interested primarily in patterns in GNOME development.

However, what DeKoenigsberg noticed was the difference in the contributions made by Red Hat versus those by Canonical, Ubuntu's commercial arm. While Red Hat had made 16.3% of all contributions, topping the list of corporate contributors, Canonical�s contributions comprised only 1.03%.

DeKoenigsberg now says that he wrote the now-infamous blog entry because of his lingering resentment over Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth's description in 2007 of Red Hat as a proprietary company. He now thinks that the entry was rash, and that he should not have written it.

However, whatever DeKoenigsberg's motivations and second thoughts, his comments amounted to an attack on Canonical. Calling Canonical a "marketing organization masquerading as an engineering organization," DeKoenigsberg described it as being hypocritically adept at claiming credit for promotion of the Linux desktop.

"One of the most irritating things about working at Red Hat was watching Canonical take credit for code that Red Hat engineers wrote," DeKoenigsberg says. "Of course, Red Hat engineers, being the upstanding sort of chaps that they are, never said a word about it, because they�ve always been too busy carrying the load." But the truth, DeKoenigsberg alleged, was that, "Canonical has been riding on Red Hat's coattails for years..."

Read the rest of this Ubuntu story at Datamation.com

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