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Ubuntu Sucks, Ubuntu Rules

Where Did the Love Go?

  • February 28, 2011
  • By Bruce Byfield
No Linux distribution creates as much noise as Ubuntu. Noisy marketing, noisy fans, and it seems that most of the Linux world has a passionate opinion about Ubuntu. Why?
When Ubuntu first appeared, the free and open source software (FOSS) community was delighted. Suddenly, here was a distribution with the definite goal of usability, headed by a former space tourist who not only understood computer programming but had the money to throw at problems.

The only objections were that Ubuntu was ripping off Debian, the source of most of its packages. For everyone else, Ubuntu and its parent company Canonical seemed everything FOSS had been waiting for.

Now, in 2011, that honeymoon is long past. Although Ubuntu remains the dominant distro, criticisms of its relationship with the rest of FOSS seem to be coming every other month.

What happened? Ubuntu supporters sometimes dismiss the change as jealousy of Ubuntu's success.

But, although that may be an element, the change in attitude is probably due chiefly to the gap between the expectations created by Ubuntu and Canonical in their early days and their increasing tendency to focus on commercial concerns.

Instead of being the model corporate member of the community that it first appeared, today Ubuntu/ Canonical increasingly seems concerned with its own interests rather than those of FOSS as a whole. No doubt there are sound business reasons for the change, but many interpret it as proof of hypocrisy. Added to the suspicion towards the corporate world that lingers in many parts of the FOSS community, the change looks damning, especially when it is so clearly documented in Canonical's corporate history.

A Brief History of Canonical and Ubuntu

After Ubuntu's first release in October 2004, Ubuntu/Canonical seemed in many ways a model FOSS entity. Nor was there much reason to doubt that initial sincerity. Shuttleworth, in particular, who was then the main speaker for both Ubuntu and Canonical, made considerable efforts to express support for other aspects of FOSS.

For example, Shuttleworth emphasized...Read the rest of Bruce Byfield's Ubuntu analysis at Datamation.com

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