Ubuntu Empire Strikes Back

The old "Ubuntu doesn't contribute back" argument cropped up again when Dave Neary released a report of the talk he gave at GUADEC on the contributions made to the GNOME desktop environment. He found that Red Hat and Novell contributed the most, and that Ubuntu and Mandriva (primarily a KDE distribution) were among the lowest. A firestorm of debate ensued, and Shuttleworth was accused of name calling and guilt to try to win the argument.

The report spurred reactions from many community members, and their responses usually depended upon which side of the fence they sat. Greg DeKoenigsberg, former Red Hat Community Architect, held no punches in his scathing criticism of Canonical and Ubuntu. He said Canonical was little more than "marketing organization masquerading as an engineering organization" taking "credit for code that Red Hat engineers wrote." Debian developers have been saying that for years about their work, but as a primarily KDE distro they didn't make the Top 20 list at all, so it appears they are staying out of this fight. Other distribution developers have been overheard expressing the same sentiments as well. DeKoenigsberg even touched on another one of Mark Shuttleworth's battle cries that really rally his troops while rubbing most of the Open Source community against the grain. He said, "they have the gall to suggest that Red Hat should change its release schedules to make it even easier for them to ride the gravy train." Most people will remember the many speeches given by Shuttleworth calling for "cadence" or the releasing of products (for example, GNOME) when it would be most advantageous to Ubuntu's release schedule.

Adam Williamson of Red Hat and formerly of Mandriva wondered if Ubuntu's success is any real success at all given that Linux represents less than 5% of total desktop usage amongst computer users, and that number hasn't grown significantly since Ubuntu's inception or rise to popularity. He did say that "if you show up with a couple of graphic designers, anyone who’s passed Media Relations 101, and a bit of cash, you can pretty much win by default, which is what Ubuntu did."

Sam Varghese, known Linux detractor and journalist, reminds us that Canonical didn't make the Top 30 in a report from the Linux Foundation on kernel contributors. On the same subject, "Greg Kroah-Hartman cited statistics that showed Canonical's contribution to 2.6.27-rc6 was 100 patches against Red Hat ... with 11,846 patches. Novell had 7222 patches." Varghese asks what everyone's trying to ask, "How about giving back a little more?"

Carlo Daffara, Open Source researcher, said that "GNOME is only one of the projects and they measure too little." He asserts that "bringing Ubuntu to millions of people is a contribution; every time Canonical manages to bring a press release out it is making a huge contribution." He sums up by saying this isn't a contest. "We should be happy for every, small, large, strange or different contributions that we receive." Chris Jones, Canonical employee, suggested "it would generally be more useful for people to be talking about solutions than arguing about who is the most or least evil."

Fortunately, Canonical let their voices be heard. Jono Bacon, Ubuntu Community Manager, offered a calm response pointing out the work Ubuntu developers do that is not part of official GNOME modules or those hosted and developed elsewhere such as Launchpad. He said, "There are also many projects built on GNOME technology that are not taken into account due to non-inclusion in GNOME modules or being developed outside of GNOME infrastructure." He continues to list several projects for which Ubuntu developers code and do not ship upstream. It seems he inadvertently confirmed the heart of the controversy. Debian formed their "Front Desk" in hopes of encouraging derivatives to share back.

Then Shuttleworth strikes back with his response, but it's not clear if he addressed the issue, or avoided it. Does Canonical's silence mean they don't care about giving back? Are the opponents being unfair in their expectations? Perhaps Jeffrey Stedfast summed it up best with "This is just how Free Software works. Don't like it? Cry me a river."


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

RedHat has no room to talk

Anonymous's picture

I've yet to have a positive experience with RH. Rotten customer support, lousy documentation... I mean.. their front line people can't even operate a telephone correctly. Frankly, I think RH should STFU and be glad they're still in the game. Why they're still in the game is anybodys guess. I think they suck.

This is VALID discussion

Anonymous Coward's picture

First - Ubuntu is largest Linux distro.
Second - Ubuntu does not call itself (GNU/)Linux. It calls itself "Ubuntu". Guess why?
Third - Canonical really does very little other than integrating lastest (buggy) cutting edge and putting it on the platter. And when people start asking "wtf it does not work" they just sit around. No upstream, no self-input, nothing.

Those people are angry because ITS THEM who improves REALLY linux, but Canonical puts all its (server) income into marketing and hence PEOPLE ARE --BUGTESTING-- CANONICAL SOLUTION instead of their own.

And if you were smart, you'd use Gentoo or Debian and pay sometimes with your money or time to developers, because THIS DISTROS UPSTREAM NEARLY EVERYTHING.
Or OpenSuse if you purchase it, because A LOT of consumer drivers are supported by opensuse.

Common ask yourself - do you really think programmers can program for free? Whats about their and their family needs? If you are a programmer, go ahead. If you are NOT - please either PAY some money for things you support or at least BE A BUG TESTER ON DISTRIBUTIONS THAT REALLY GIVE BACK AND REALLY --CREATE-- LINUX.

Otherwise Gnu/Linux will stay the stinky hole for the desktop it now is (1% worldwide) and YOU WILL JUST RUN AROUND WORSHIPING "UBUNTU".

Think, read. Do not flame. The points are very valid.

Keep it up

Soren's picture

And everybody sits and whines about the continuing 'inexplicable' dominance of MS- not that hard to understand- they don't have to do anything- all they have to do is let the arrogance and over- blown personalities of the Linux community sabotage the project.

And don't minimize the importance of jealousy at another's success as a motivating factor.

I get so sick of the banality of the "Ubuntu- an ancient African word meaning Gentoo is too hard for me" crowd that the minute there is a viable alternative to Windows I'm jumping ship.

Among my clients (largely low to intermediate MS end users) UBUNTU is LINUX (in their minds), the proportion of them (that has heard of Linux) that knows of any other distro is negligible.

Keep it up, not only will it keep GNU/ Linux desktop stake and 5% but it will lead to it Gnu/ Linux remaining the geek- niche oddity that some apparently want to keep it.

This is a problem

miller88's picture

I recall reading an article on this site the other day, saying something along the lines of having a unified distribution.

Maybe, if the Linux people could stop fighting amongst themselves ... we might do even better! It's always the Red Hat people versus the Debian people; the Fedora vs Ubuntu.

Ubuntu "just works" ... so does Fedora ... so does OpenSUSE ... so does Mint ... To the average user, they all look the same too! It's a pain to get a broadcom network card working in all of them! They all support my Intel GMA 950 out of the box. To mount my SAMBA share, all I have to do is "mount -t cifs ..."

To be honest, the biggest perception in difference is the color "Ubuntu is brown" "Fedora is blue"

I run Ubuntu because I can easily, with no problem, boot it from a flash storage device and install to a flash storage device. This is quite nice when you don't have a hard drive. It's the little things like that that Canonical "doesn't contribute" that gets people over to our side. I'd still probably be running Windows if I could not so easily boot to flash storage.

Now, this could work to our advantage. Regardless of which distribution, someone midly technical uses whatever they use.

They may all look the same

mikesd's picture

They may all look the same and all be Linux, but when you start getting into the administration you see the differences, and the annoyances.

For instance:

Redhat's file hierarchy follow the more Unix/AIX lay out with /usr/bin and /usr/sbin

Opensuse follow the FHS

and Ubuntu just puts config files in the most annoying and unusual and insane places.

For a regular desktop user, yes it just works. For people administering a Linux box, there are other things to consider. While making a unified distro goes against having a choice, it doesn't mean that certain standards can't be followed. Hence, the reason they are called standards.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Instead of Improving, Ubuntu Degrades

Paul Biker's picture

I have previously used Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10. I thought they were pretty good. I just recently tried Ubuntu 10.04 with Grub2. I read that 51% of Ubuntu users did not like Grub2 and I agree totally. It lists about 8 selections when I only had 2 OS's installed. And you can't edit it. WTF. It screwed up a menu that cannot be fixed. Ubuntu is getting less user friendly. I don't understand the logic behind that, if they want to win over computer users. I decided tonight, after using Ubuntu 10.04 with GRUB2, that there is no reason for me to try Ubuntu again. I am unable to boot from USB or CDROM after installing GRUB2. I will have to completely restore windows on my netbook, even though the BIOS is configured to boot USB first, GRUB2 is all that comes up. ESC or F2 seem to have no effect. I Googled Ubuntu, but found no answers, so Ubuntu is out! I think they are not listening to users, since most users don't like Grub2. Another thing I noticed. When you open the Ubuntu Update, it usually says that the system is "Up to Date". But if you click on "Check" you get the actual status. I googled this last night, and this problem goes back to 2006. How dumb is this. I clicked on Update last night, after installing Ubuntu 10.04, and was told my system was up to date. Then I clicked on check, and there were 191 critical updates. WTF? Don't these problems ever get fixed?

Did you check the bug

mikesd's picture

Did you check the bug tracker? Have they been reported? Has there been responses?

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.


Shankara's picture

It is truly an ecosystem. It is in the best interest of GNU/Linux to not hate any distribution.


Stimpson J. Cat's picture

omg, these ppl trying to show who has it bigger...

OSS vs OSS...

Grow up for FSM's sake!!!

Ubuntu has grown like Topsy

Elderlybloke's picture

It the 6 years since Ubuntu started, it has grown to be more popular than any other Linux .
It seems to me that the reason for this is that is is a lot easier for new users to use. Mark has applied to KISS principal.

This seems to have upset other forms of Linux, but if they incorporate some of Ubuntu's ideas, they may do better.

As an extreme non geek I have no intention of changing to a more difficult OS


Anonymous's picture

It would be interesting to compare the annual revenue of Red Hat, Novell, and Canonical. Maybe the Canonical annual patch count is on par with Red Hat and Novell when looking at the situation from an economical view.

Whatever happened to "free" software?

ljtirazona's picture

People who contribute to the flames of this "someone's not contributing enough" banter have forgotten really the basic tenets of open source. We share code and programs freely (freely as in libre and/or freedom) without the expectation of getting some code back. True, it would be REALLY nice if people would always contribute code back, but that's not always the case and that's not what we should get hung up on.
We should be happy that people are benefiting from what we give to the community. Of course, when we are trying to make money from open source, it should concern us when people don't give code back to help us out. Maybe some people/organizations just aren't interested in giving, but maybe, some people/organizations aren't in a position to give back yet.
In our organization, we use Linux in about 80% of our servers, and use only open source programs on them. We have not given anything back to the open source community. We would like to contribute, but we have not yet the funding and the manpower to contribute. We barely even have funding to buy the servers we need. But the thing is, we are committed to open source, and we are going to give back when we are able to. We do not have an idea of when that would be, but we are going to give back, whether it be in cash, code, or documentation.
The same goes for other organizations. They may be benefiting greatly from other people's work, but they have their challenges that prevent them contributing as much as they or other people would like.
Whatever the case is, there is no room for bitterness in our community.
Just some thoughts.


Adam Williamson's picture

What applies to a single user, or to some entity using open source code as a means to some other end, is very different from what applies to an entity that positions itself right at the centre of the F/OSS ecosystem. How you present yourself, to some extent, defines the standards people will apply to you. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google have never pretended to be anything but what they are - essentially proprietary-minded corporations which are pretty much there to turn a buck. We don't expect any more than the bare legal minimum from them. When they do more, we're pleasantly surprised.

Canonical has presented itself as being right on the forefront of the Good Fight, believing in the open source ethos and all that stuff, and positioned itself as the Linux desktop leader. When you put yourself up in that position, expectations of you are obviously going to be greater. If you're going to position yourself like that, yes, people are going to expect that you contribute significantly to the wider ecosystem. If the companies that profess to be the most enthusiastic about the free software/open source ethos don't contribute, who's going to?

Yes, we're arguably holding Canonical to a higher standard than we'd hold other companies. But this is largely due to the way Canonical has positioned itself, and Ubuntu.

First, The rules apply

Anonymous's picture

First, The rules apply equally to everyone (people and corporations). So, if someone uses open source, then they must comply with the conditions of the copyright license. It is that simple.

Second, the positioning of Canonical is subjective. They market and attempt to control there image, which might influence your perception, but it is still you that has the perception. Your perception does not make a responsibility for them.

Thirdly, Canonical does indeed contribute. They, however, have not contributed as much as other to Gnome. On the other hand, there are project that Canonical has contributed more on than others. Shall we condemn all others for not contributing as much to say Upstart? I think not. I believe each person/company/corporation has the freedom to choose what they will work on.

Not opensource then?

cougarmaster's picture

Wow reading this makes me question the motives of opensource. Does this mean that I won't be allowed to take a distribution source code change it and redistribute it with my own expense? Or write my own codes to append to it and distribute it? Why then should I continue to invest time and/or money on opensource? Should just stick to windows and/or Mac OS. Very disturbing news to onlookers.


Bayram's picture


Well, I'm not an OS bigot I enjoy using them all. I use mostly Linux , but I have started using Mac OSX on an iMac and iPad, and they are good if a little too locked down. I have several Windows virtual machines for when I need access to applications that just run well on that system, and there are a few. I have an Android phone - which some people don't even consider runs Linux - even when you do an about, and it shows the Linux kernel release.I will no don't get an Android tablet later this year, why wouldn't I?

This argument is just daft and a waste of everyone's time.


Alex Stone's picture

Regardless of who's right and wrong, and that often depends on which day of the week it is, or which way the wind is blowing, Ubuntu has made a difference in a change of perception about linux as a viable desktop. It's certainly not there yet, as the quote given earlier, imho, is closest to the truth.
And i paraphrase:

"Linux will have to be head and shoulders above Windows, before any discernible shift in user environments towards a linux desktop for everyday use."

What does head and shoulders mean to "Joe User?"

Crank up the box, grab the headset and share LOLS with his online "mates".

Be able to play WOW, and any other red hot allsinging all shooting game on his 'puter, and WIN. Everytime.

Have a seamless relationship with his browser, and be able to play all the latest 'tubes without flash glitches. (and make them as well, to share with others just like him, under the "LOL" category.)

Be able to crank that latest Megadeth torrent online with his "mates", and get a lot of enjoyment out of serious ear damage, because he "pulses" that tune, and as we all know, pulseaudio works great with everything, everytime, just like Windows and Mac, right?

Be able to hotplug in multiple screens for that "NASA" look, without a problem, and use the latest gaming card he sold the next door neighbour's kids for, instantly, without problems. This is just the same as Win and Mac.....seriously........

I'm having a bit of fun here, but as a user that's hit the "if you don't like my design, do it yourself" type of devs, more than once, i think we should all chill out, and recognise that it's not Canonical, or Red Hat, or anyone else that "decides" what constitutes a contribution, but all of us together. If we get into it, we all win. If a company decides on an RH server, we all win. If the massive mobile company down the road uses a linux based software system, again, we all win. As COLLECTIVE contribution grows, not just from the recognisable names, but grass roots, endlessly patient users (even those that drool on their keyboard at the sight of the latest WOW cheat), waiting and hoping for that next big step forward, so they can show off to their mates, and be held up as a "cool dude."
Mac people tend to be full of themselves, with their "toys are us" GUI lurv. Win people tend to push the stats button, whenever challenged, because they have "90%" market share, and that "speaks for itself." (you may lolol to yourselves here about the level of integrity involved in aquiring that status). And Linux users tend to almost fanatically defend the terminal as a "thing of beauty", and a readily identifiable "sign of intelligence", as well as rabidly and furiously arguing over the latest interpretation (usually their own) of the GPL. They also have a great line in the latest tinfoil fashion, or so the ne'er do wells would have us believe...

Chill out. When the big guys and the little guys in linux do well, we all win. It's all good, whatever code they wrote and contribute, or how much marketing cash they spent trying to give linux some 21st century "street cred" among the mere mortals. :) Or how many voluntary hours many users put in, building and fixing brand new linux installs for the unwashed masses, and watching the poor souls faces light up with joy, as they realise they're now "legal" and opensource (read rebel), and cool, and don't need to use cracked software anymore...

Mark, the RedHat team, Linus, Greg, Richard, the Novell chaps, all the devs who write good code, and chase a high standard of excellence, and are cool enough to accept sensible user input, thanks to you all, and i hope you're all wildly successful now and in the future.

From an outrageously smug........Gentoo user (we're the linux users with the self-deprecating sense of humour), who's enjoying his linux journey.

3 years now, and still no thoughts of suicide, murder, heavy drinking, unnatural acts with hobbit like women, giving up pizza for healthy food, taking off the tinfoil, agreeing with the opinion of others in GPL interpretation, helping win users who still think Vista was a good thing even as it crashes and burns again, etc....

Long may the journey continue.

Ebuild and ice, anyone?


I think the point about this

Pants's picture

I think the point about this is that Ubuntu is getting all of the credit for making Linux easier to use, when in fact they just entered the game at a convenient time. Nearly all of the changes that made Ubuntu such a nice distro were added by Red Hat, Debian and Gnome.

All Ubuntu does is make Linux look bad by attracting new users and then giving them the worst experience Linux has to offer (terrible color schemes, messed up Gnome user-experience, seriously out of date packages with backports being a joke, breaking everything every 6 months..).

Linux would be better off without Ubuntu. Even if we'd attract less new users, we wouldn't be scaring them all away.

What an interesting

Anonymous's picture

What an interesting perspective on UBUNTU!

I have been wrangling with PCs since the CPM era...and I use Windoze, OSX and Linux machines for various purposes. But like the Dos Equis guy on the TV ads says, "I don't often use Linux, but when I do, I use Ubuntu!"

From my perspective, I use Ubuntu because it "just works." Unlike the other distros I've tried and used over the past 8-10 years, I don't have to tediously configure stuff and try to figure out how to make it functional. For me, at least, I know I can boot the live disk, install the OS or even run it in a VM, as I'm doing now, and everything works just fine.

I'm even having success loading Ubuntu on PC service customer machines to make easy-to-use, virus and malware free internet browsers (in hotels and businesses that are plagued by "after hours" users who surf the seedy underbelly of the 'net on mission critical PCs, thereby getting them infested with 'net crud).

These admittedly non-geeky customers all come from a Windows background, but they are all amazed by how easy and functional Ubuntu is. They now view Linux in a strongly positive light, and are definitely not being "scared away."

Obviously, I could do this with a great many distros, but the real world success of Ubuntu, I think, has a lot more to do with Ubuntu's corporate and community support...and not just being at the right place at the right time.

Okay, this was about kernel patches

quixote's picture

So the fact that ubuntu (and therefore Canonical) makes huge contributions to linux is really off-topic. Still, the reporting on the contribution issues should make the point about total contributions because it's relevant.

To those who say ubuntu has done nothing to increase total number of linux users: in my experience over the last three years, there have been five new users, none of them geeks. Support questions: none. Zero.

(By the way, just for comparison, one person specifically asked me to install WinXp because she can't stand Win7 and is petrified of linux. Support questions: several each month. I personally started out with RedHat. Support questions: sometimes it would take my uni's linux maven hours to sort out the issues. Fedora got a whole lot better after ubuntu started eating their lunch. There hadn't been any updates in years, remember?)

So ubuntu has very much increased linux use in my experience. I'm either a complete freak (could be), or the stats aren't capturing something out there.

I have now have experimented

Anonymous's picture

I have now have experimented with fedora, centos, arch linux and have a job working with a red hat environment all because of ubuntu.

The number of new Linux users

Anonymous's picture

The number of new Linux users have increased less than 1% worldwide. Ubuntu has increased their user base by spamming the hell out of other distributions forums in an effort to leach users. I love their predatory practices.


Anonymous's picture

Because we all know how well spam works, especially on hard-boiled geeks (since the amount of new linux users is supposed to be negligible).


jmite's picture

this is linux. It's about freedom, and users are free to choose what distro they like best. As soon as you think you know better than the users, that's not freedom for them...
If users have moved to a linux, then that's what the users want, and it's not a developer's position to condemn the user for exercising their freedom.

Well, personally, while I

Anonymous's picture

Well, personally, while I don't hate Ubuntu in the grand scheme of things, as it is Linux after all, I do hate it in the Linux world. I have used several versions up to and including the next to last version and I had a whole lot of trouble. Namely the updater crashing and requiring a complete reinstall. That happened on several systems. I use openSUSE and I find no decrease in usability, in fact I find more usability. I used to recommend Ubuntu to new users, but after my experiences, and the fact that a couple also had issues which in turn turned them away from Linux all together I don't anymore.

And that is one problem facing Linux adoption, to those who know nothing or little about it, every version is clumped into one big "Linux" to them. I have a friend that is unhealthily attached to Microsoft and he said he tried linux a couple of times and has absolutely no interest in it now because it was too difficult to use (this coming from someone who has a degree and is soon to be an Admin lol) but his conclusion was based on Fedora 6 or 7 I think and a Knoppix live CD. But to him, it is all the same and he can't see how things could have advanced very far (even though he has seen my system). Now, granted this was a loosing battle from the beginning since his intense loyalty to Microsoft, and that should not be the people Linux is targeting. Though that is hard because most of the people that have exposure to Linux are usually already hard core PC users and therefore fairly indoctrinated into M$ dom. But once more games become available for Linux natively that will be easier to attract those types. But every time a new user has a bad experience with Linux they tend to be lost for a long time, if not forever, and that is double true for those who love Windows. And then they spread that word to others that Linux isn't worth trying, and thus we return to the "all Linuxes being wrapped into one" issue again.

What Ubuntu has done is

Anonymous's picture

What Ubuntu has done is something the Linux community wasn't doing because it didn't care about it - the desktop. If marketshare/Linux user base hasnot gone up but Ubuntu makes up 31% of Linux desktop users (LJ two months ago?) then clearly Ubuntu offers something the others don't even if only for current Linux users. There is no other disro with the desktop market that Ubuntu has, not even close. I am also betting people know the Ubuntu name better than some of the other distro's even if they are not users. I am not saying they shouldn't contribute more, just that making Linux on the desktop enjoyable, popular and even a real option IS a contribution.

The thing is, they didn't

Pants's picture

The thing is, they didn't make the Linux desktop "more enjoyable", it was all other people. All Ubuntu has that others don't is marketing, which is sad because they have the worst product.


Bas Hekking's picture

Why complain? The others can market as well as they like.
They are contributing code an marketing Linux

If you don't like there product, then use another one.
I like the product, I love their release schedule and think the software works great.

Tech vs. Marketing

Not Verified's picture

It seems clear that Ubuntu actually does marketing pretty well, at least compared to every other Linux vendor. Linux has consistently failed to get significant market share on the desktop for years with an incredible market advantage: it's free!

Reading this set of comments, I find comments like this - "it's sad that they do marketing well" both unintentionally hilarious and a "sad" comment on why Linux has gotten so little market advantage out of being so dominant in so many ways on the internet and so amazingly unsuccessful on the desktop.

Evidence of contribution would have been evident

KimTjik's picture

How would you prove for someone like me who never has used Ubuntu that Canonical actually, relative to its size, contributes as much as would be expected? For outsiders I don't know whether there's any real impact.

I don't mind how much Canonical contributes, it's a free choice, but responsibility increases relatively to marketing claims. It has gone that far that some from the community in articles label common Linux/BSD/OpenSolaris/and else as "Ubuntu programs". Mark S. has probably done some great things, but it would be appreciated if he set the record straight and gives credit to the ones doing the work, instead of marketing Ubuntu as something different from the rest. I regularly read information where you have to look hard to even understand that Ubuntu is based on Linux and uses the typical set of software as every other distribution does. As the only Linux distribution working the market as Canonical does, and except of Red Hat, which target another market than Canonical does, has more resources for it.

It's kind of symptomatic that the only big gun to not mention Linux on their main page is Ubuntu. This could of course change because of this turmoil. Still it makes me wonder why Canonical chooses to not like others speak about "a Linux-based operating system, "a flexible Linux distribution", "Linux platform", "awesome Linux desktop", "spreading the use of Linux", "a free Linux operating system" and other clear statesments. I've clicked around at www.ubuntu.com and even the word Linux is extremely hard to find, and after searching for some minutes I managed to find a tiny link to "Ubuntu and Debian" where Debian is described as a project "developing a GNU/Linux operating system"; Ubuntu is said to be a system "based on Debian". Should it really be that hard to write the word Linux? I can't see any other explanation to this than that it's a concious strategy.

I wish the Ubuntu project progress while I also wish that folks working with it start to question and improve on certain marketing aspects. I don't think Linux users expect Ubuntu to more than speak what they do.

Ubuntu is Linux, and they say so.

brickviking's picture

I did a very quick search with Google: http://www.google.com/search?q=Ubuntu+Linux+site:ubuntu.com&num=100

The very first link I see is this one:

Ubuntu Linux
Official site; commercially sponsored Debian-derived Linux that focuses on ...

And in Canonical's "About Ubuntu" webpage, they describe the following:

Where did it all begin?

Linux was already established as an enterprise system ... Mark Shuttleworth gathered a small team of developers from one of the most established Linux projects - Debian - and set out to create an easy-to-use Linux desktop, Ubuntu.

So contrary to the previous opinion, Ubuntu certainly mention their parentage, even though it's not emblazoned in 48-point type on their front page. The fact I was able to discover (in two mouse clicks, no less) that Ubuntu was Linux means they're not hiding anything.

My $0.02c

I really don't see how

Anonymous's picture

I really don't see how throwing around the word Linux has any thing to do with this debate or even matters. Those who do not know it's Linux know it's not Windows. Every one else knows it's Linux.

Isn't it obvious?

KimTjik's picture

My interpretation is that Canonical tries to distance itself from being affiliated with the totality of what's Linux based. And no, common people might understand it's not Windows, but beyond that they might not have a clue. When I get questions like "I know this works in Ubuntu, but does it work in Linux?", then you see the result of clever marketing.

In my eyes there's a correlation between the willingness to associate with the bigger Linux community, and the willingness to support it with code.

I've seen many Redhat fanboys

Anonymous's picture

I've seen many Redhat fanboys bring up the statistics showing that Linux market share has not grown hardly at all since Ubuntu came out. The problem with that argument is Shuttleworth himself has said that there will be no greater adoption for Linux on the desktop until it is head and shoulders better than Windows.

I think any sane person will have to admit that while a modern linux distro is a perfectly usable machine, it is not head and shoulders better than windows to the point that switching is a no brainer. IMO it will take at least 5 years for Linux on the desktop to have matured to the point that it is head and shoulders better than Windows. So come back in 5 years and tell me what percentage Linux has on the desktop.

Double standards

Bob Harvey's picture

Cannonical have built a business and a community out of using Linux. Isn't this what it is for? They are not very interested in development, they are interested in getting the stuff in use. This is surely a complimentary contribution. Developers are not marketeers. Cannonical are.

They do feed back bug reports, and so do their users. They do a little bit of development, mainly packaging and smoothing over the joints. All of that is available.

Frankly this whole silly spat is a bit like saying truck drivers don't design what they are dropping off at the shops. Damn right they don't. Someone else already has, and can get on with the next thing without bothering about delivery.


DiggyDO's picture

All this talk is ridiculous. First of all, anyone who makes a distro IS NOT REQUIRED TO GIVE BACK ANYTHING. That's part of the beauty of open source. But you people are too dumb to realize this, and are imparting your own hateful, jealous emotions on this subject. This sickens me. I thought linux users would be more tolerant of other peoples (distros) agendas, but I guess not.

Canonical has done more for the popularity of linux on the desktop than anyone else, but they still are hated for this.@adam will: I expected more from you than what you posted. Shame on you, and I've just lost some respect for you. You think people would take the high road, but no. Mud slinging at its finest. Shame on all of you haters.


DiggyDO's picture

All this talk is ridiculous. First of all, anyone who makes a distro IS NOT REQUIRED TO GIVE BACK ANYTHING. That's part of the beauty of open source. But you people are too dumb to realize this, and are imparting your own hateful, jealous emotions on this subject. This sickens me. I thought linux users would be more tolerant of other peoples (distros) agendas, but I guess not.

Canonical has done more for the popularity of linux on the desktop than anyone else, but they still are hated for this.@adam will: I expected more from you than what you posted. Shame on you, and I've just lost some respect for you. You think people would take the high road, but no. Mud slinging at its finest. Shame on all of you haters.

More than code

jmite's picture

This is why linux is still not "mainstream." You peoople need to realize that Software and code are not the same thing. You can't have software without code, but code on its own does not sofware make.

So Ubuntu hasn't submitted kernel patches. Big deal. But it has *started* to introduce the concept of linux to the average user. Maybe that's just marketing, but there are two possibilities.

1. Ubuntu sucks, and by making linux popular, it will be like a gateway distro, showing people what linux is like until they move to something heavier.

2. Ubuntu doesn't suck, and Ubuntu is becoming popular, and that's a good thing.

So they didn't submit kernel patches. Oh no! (Even if they had, I hear most kernel patches are silently dropped). But they have written a new, beautiful notification system. It's FOSS. If other distros want it, they can take it. The fact that they're not interested in the contributions Ubuntu has made doesn't negate the fact that they've made them.

It's great having a small, tight knit community of developers/users of linux who write patches, but if someone can bring Linux to the masses, there will be more attention on it than ever before, which should result in more contributions on the whole. Maybe they don't directly come from Cannonical, but oh well. It's FOSS, if you want to look at cannonicals contributions, crack open their code and do so.

Possibility 3: Ubuntu sucks

Pants's picture

Possibility 3: Ubuntu sucks and new users will conclude "Linux sucks".

I see this as the most likely case.

logical fallacy

jmite's picture

The arguments here are inconsistent. If ubuntu is taking from the community, not giving to it, but Ubuntu sucks, then it can't be creating the suck, the suck has to come from the source of its software, aka the open source community.

You have to either admit that Ubuntu's quality is a reflection of the open source software movement, or that Ubuntu has legitimately been doing something new and unique, which may or may not suck. But you can't slam it for taking stuff from all the other open source software, then say that the result is bad, without reflecting on the upstream quality.

So go ahead, say ubuntu sucks, but to suck you have to try to do something different, and to be different, you have to create something of your own, which means they are contributing to open source software. Maybe it's not kernel patches, but it's contributions.

Ubuntu, etc, etc....

Joe Beets's picture

Having been through the wars since the late 1970s, I believe a pervasive problem throughout the history of Unix is that the developers have had a steadfast disregard for "real users" and have focused entirely on "technology."

In this alleged "discussion" we have another example equating "code" with "contribution."

What many (if not "most") developers don't admit is that "packaging" is the second 90 percent of the effort doing a real "product", and "market penetration" is the third 90 percent of the effort. (for the record, supporting the users is the fourth 90 percent.)

if all Canonical ever did is develop product packing, fit and finish which can demonstrably penetrate the market, they have done a HUGE job for which they deserve credit. That's not to say that nobody else has done a good job, because some have (eg, RedHat).

So everybody needs to get a grip and make peace with the fact that not everyone contributes the same way.

President Harry S. Truman, probably the most genuine, forthright "nice guy" to ever inhabit the US White House wryly observed:

"It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit."

Just so.


rogerw's picture

Both Gnome and KDE are low quality junk software projects. Just look at all the low quality Linux projects like Nautilus. Most are designed and programmed by clueless and uneducated Europeans. They don't know a bit from a byte and don't speak English. Gnome is broken by design and retarded compared to Windows. Ubuntu is helping Gnome by adding user interface developers, reversing the OK and CANCEL buttons again.


Cycron's picture

Windows crashes constantly for me... and it's super super slow... and so so limited, you have to hack it just to change the theme. And when an application freezes up in windows you usually have no hope of it unfreezing, without shutting down.

Most are designed and programmed by clueless and uneducated Europeans. They don't know a bit from a byte and don't speak English

Where does this information come from? can you show us any proof?


DiggyDO's picture

Take your windows crap to a different venue. Loser. Linux works 100 times better for me than windows ever did.

More Competition = We all Win

HyTeK's picture

And in what ways does Windows make everything better?

Have we seen the fiasco that went on in Vista? Seriously, does it take nine months, 19 developers, and 4 managers to make a shutdown menu on the start bar?

Competition is what consumers need. Neither Ubuntu, Red Hat, Suse, Windows, or Mac is the "best one". If there was "only one" I can guarantee you life on computers would not be what they are today. It would be much, much worse.


jmite's picture


re: troll

jmite's picture

just thought you ought to know...

Hahaha, where would *nix be without ubuntu...hahaha!

John and Dagny Galt's picture

Hahaha, where would *nix be without ubuntu...hahaha!

ubuntu...millions of people and millions of dollars mostly exchanged between individuals!

enough said!

I think Adam Williamson makes

LinuxLover's picture

I think Adam Williamson makes a valid case that Ubuntu hasn't increased Linux market share growth at all. You may want to read more from his blog, but basically, Linux grew more marketshare, percentage growth, before Ubuntu came onto the scene than it did after. Ubuntu has taken users away from other thriving distros that come before them, particularly Mandrake/Mandriva and Red Hat, who were both in the same position Ubuntu is at one time. Linux market share, according to Adam, grew at 0.05625 percentage points per month before Ubuntu, but only 0.02394 percentage points per month after Ubuntu came onto the scene. We all the know the total numbers have grown, but that would have occurred naturally without Ubuntu.


Drama queens

Stan Rbt's picture

I think some people live in a la-la land. Get back on Earth guys. Before Ubuntu came out it was a nightmare to try and persuade someone to switch to linux, even when people wanted to try something different (from Windows). I installed SUSE as a 2nd operating system many times to only get headaches and hours of phone explanations on how to do this or that. I am pretty technical so I could not understand why but people got very confused and eventually stuck to Windows. After I started installing Ubuntu I got what I had not had for years - peace from constant requests for help. People simply find Ubuntu user-friendly, they easily get used to it unlike other distributions and even my mother is a happy user now. I think technical people are arrogant in their undermining of the contribution of other professions to mankind progress - designers and marketeers for example.

Nevertheless, thank you Canonical for achieving the long elusive user friendliness at an affordable price (yes - even learning time is a paid price)! Let the nerds be nerds and continue complaining. They are starting to look like drama queens.