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Mark Shuttleworth responds

July 30, 2010 7 comments

Mark Shuttleworth responded to the blog item I posted a few hours ago. Rather than have it just get lost in the responses to the previous blog item, I thought I’d reprint it verbatim here.

Mark commented on the previous item:

Larry, it was Greg who used the expression “Hater’s gotta hate”, not me.

Jono has done an ample job of pointing out how the data is a poor reflection of Canonical’s contribution, rather than reflecting poor contribution itself.

And I didn’t call Greg stupid. I said that thinking tribally makes one stupid – it precludes opportunities for rich interactions with interesting people.

Right now, on numerous fronts, developers at Canonical are feeling frustrated because when they try to collaborate with people in upstream projects that are maintained by folks who resent Canonical, they get blocked. One of our developers told me he has taken to submitting patches through a proxy because he does not get reasonable answers when he does so directly.

I can’t think of a better example of tribal thinking making a project stupid: if you’re actively dissing patches labelled “Canonical” and then complaining about the lack of them, “stupid” would be on the more complimentary end of the appropriate epithets.

And I reply:

Mark — First, thanks for responding. I know you’re a busy guy; a different busy maybe than some of us who are promoting FOSS in the trenches, but busy nonetheless. Frankly, I wish I had more time between $DAYJOB_1 and $DAYJOB_2 to address your comment more thoroughly, but I’ll do my best in the limited time I have here (thank God for quick typing).

Also, so you know: I have been an Ubuntu user since 2006 (though no longer on my primary machine — more on this in the next sentence) and a member of the California LoCo since then as well. My business, Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, has several Ubuntu boxes and has converted several small businesses and home offices to Linux and the operating system they use is Ubuntu.

Today, for several reasons, I am primarily a Fedora user. However, my daughter is an Ubuntu user. But rather than rend my garment and wail, “I have no daughter,” I encourage her to use whatever distro — heck, whatever operating system — she likes because FOSS is all about choice (tell you something you don’t know, right?).

We agree that tribalism, as defined in your blog, is bad. There is no place for it anywhere, including Ubuntu. There are aspects of the Ubuntu organization that smack of tribalism — specifically the LoCo program, which I’ll discuss in a minute — that you should probably be aware of. Just a quick warning about the glass houses and stones thing . . .

True, you didn’t actually call Greg DeKoenigsberg stupid, but you did accuse him of tribalism, which is stupid. The implication sticks, even though it wasn’t directly stated. I don’t know Greg well — we’ve exchanged e-mails while he was at Red Hat and, superficially speaking, we’re friends of Facebook — but knowing him even marginally and after reading his blog item, I don’t think he was practicing “tribalism.” As I mentioned in my blog, I think that while Greg may not get a whole lot of points for execution, he does bring up a valid point that I have heard more often than I would have liked.

Bringing this up does not make him a “tribalist.” It makes him someone bringing up a point that you can take or leave (and frankly, if I were a captain of industry and not a guy with two jobs and a passion for FOSS, I’d have probably publicly ignored Greg’s blog altogether and, given the time, looked into it more. I’d also think about going into space again, as that sounds really cool, but that’s another matter).

On the issue of “tribalism,” you might want to give LoCos a closer look because, from a Linux User Group standpoint (I run one of those, too), it seems that LoCos — at least the one that I have the most experience with, here in California — have a “separate but equal” attitude toward participating with LUGs and promoting FOSS. While they’re welcome and urged to participate in our activities for the greater good of FOSS, activities that are LoCo based tend to be Ubuntu-only, which of course is their right, but think about the message it sends.

Also, you mention developer feeling frustrated about contributions that they make being thwarted. That surprises me, and that would definitely be something that would need correcting. I’d be glad, too, to post examples if you could provide them.

Thanks again. Back to work for me.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Pages from playbooks

July 30, 2010 3 comments

Yesterday, Greg DeKoenigsberg wrote a blog item outlining Canonical/Ubuntu’s weak numbers in participating in development for GNOME.

Rather than address Greg’s blog item with a reply that addresses the issue, Mark Shuttleworth decided to take a page from the Fox News playbook — not to mention the Sarah Palin dictionary — in responding to Greg’s blog.

To recap, here is Greg’s blog item, and following it is Mark’s response.

Clearly, Mark can do better than this, and if I were a Canonical/Ubuntu advocate, I’d be a little sheepish about the response. Criticism can be handled by either addressing it or deflecting it, and clearly Mark chose the latter. To call someone a “hater” and calling them “stupid” because they present an argument with which you don’t agree — especially when the numbers are there to show that Canonical/Ubuntu does not pull its weight — is, quite frankly, a load of crap.

Rather than address the fact at hand, we get a liturgy of how “tribalism” (whatever that means) is bad — yes, that’s true, Mark, as you define what “tribalism” is — but how does that apply to the fact that Canonical/Ubuntu has only 1 percent of contributions upstream in the GNOME project? Without begging the question that if it’s 1 percent in GNOME, what is it for Xorg? For the kernel?

Does pointing out that the emperor has no clothes make you a “hater,” or does it just make you observant? Taking it one step further, if Greg is right — and I think he is — doesn’t that call for more intelligent response than “you’re a bad person for pointing this out, and anyone who thinks like you is a divider”?

A more honest response would have been, “Yes, we are lacking in contributing upstream. We have not been involved as long as others, like Red Hat, but we hope to be up to speed in the near future.”

But no: What we get is some of the mudslinging and divisiveness that, ironically, Mark himself rails against.

True leaders know that having shortcomings pointed out to them helps an organization grow, assuming the shortcoming is fixed. It’ll be interesting to see if the true “leaders” in Canonical/Ubuntu actually try to close the gap in contribution upstream, or if they hold fast to Mark’s dictum of “those who are not with us are against us.”

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Talkers and doers

July 29, 2010 2 comments

Greg DeKoenigsberg wrote a blog item which wraps up with the following quote: “The world is full of talkers and doers, and in the long haul, people are usually smart enough to figure out which is which.”

While the blog itself is based on a recent presentation by Dave Neary of GNOME regarding contributions, or lack thereof, by FOSS companies and individuals to the GNOME desktop, the underlying theme (for lack of a better term) returns to the upstream argument where, frankly, some entities aren’t pulling their weight on the development end of things — and it applies not only to GNOME, but to the kernel, to Xorg and so on down the list.

So I’m just going stand aside and let you read it, and comment on it if you like.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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OSCON: The epilogue

July 25, 2010 2 comments

OK, so I lied. I had planned to write this yesterday, but after an all night drive which consisted of drinking about two gallons of coffee, sleeping that off (ironically) on Saturday morning and then going to work, time became unavailable until now.

At first glance, OSCON was a huge success on several levels. First, it appears that as much as I’d prefer to have the event in San Jose for my own personal and selfish reasons, OSCON is at home in Portland. It’s a tough concession for me to make, but it’s true. Also, I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d be willing to bet that attendance is up — from the traffic on the floor and the amount of swag that flew out of the Fedora booth, I’d say it is way up.

People I forgot to mention: The first familiar friendly face I saw once the doors opened on Wednesday was that of Akkana Peck, GIMP guru without peer and my “neighbor” from over the hill in the Silicon Valley. Amber Graner, with whom a Linux expo would not be a Linux expo, was also on hand, with cameraman in tow for podcasts. My good friend and Gidget Kitchen chef Mark Terranova was also splitting time at OSCON between the Ubuntu booth and taking pictures on the expo hall floor, among other events at OSCON. There are more people I know I’m forgetting, but I promise to come back to you.

The city that really knows how: The motto “the city that knows how” is normally attributed to San Francisco — and it’s a very accurate one — but the City by the Bay could learn a thing or two from Portland. A free downtown train for starters would be nice in San Francisco. Plus, people are generally very easygoing and polite in Portland, making it a great place to visit. Coupling my affinity for Corvallis with a growing affinity for Portland, the state of Oregon is rising on the charts as one of my favorite places.

Honorable mention in the swag department: While giving out the best in swag awards, I failed to mention that Code for America handed out what I think are the greatest posters that have happened along in quite some time. These posters are historic American quotes from U.S. government “system architect” James Madison and “accessibility expert” Susan B. Anthony written in binary. Go take a look here — I’ll wait. I have the Madison and Anthony posters on the wall at the office in Felton. For printed matter, it definintely edges out the excellent Linux Journal calendar.

Thanks again, O’Reilly, for hosting such a great show year after year, and we’ll see you again in 2011.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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The Wizard of OSCON – Day 2

July 23, 2010 3 comments

First things first: There is a Wizard of OSCON. I’ll reveal that person’s identity — without having to go behind the curtain — at the end of the blog (and no fair going straight to the bottom).

The second day followed the same playbook from most large shows. Following a tsunami of people on day one of the exhibition, the second day of the exhibition is more tempered and there are less people. But there’s an up side to the latter, specifically that we’re able to talk at length about matters Fedora.

Being chained to the booth — and I say that as if it’s a bad thing, but it’s not — I was unable to go to any of the sessions. Not a problem there, since talking to people in the booth is a lot more enjoyable. So dealing with questions about Fedora, introducing the distro and talking to people about FOSS suits me better.

The people come in waves, thanks to the sessions, no doubt. The folks who visited the booth for the past two days, as they do at all large shows, come in a wide range of experience levels. Fielding questions from “What is Fedora?” to the most detailed questions about the kernel — passed off to someone more experienced, of course — the range of questions and the ever-increasing number of people reflect that FOSS is gaining a healthy glow in the grand scheme of things.

Best SWAG: Overall, the SWAG at the event has been good. Three items stand out and I’ll rank them from third to first. Finishing third would be the Firehost playing cards, and you might ask why the Firehost toilet paper wouldn’t rank until you actually used it (nice idea, bad execution, Firehost).

Finishing second, and most would consider this the winner, would be the tattoo sleeves from Rackspace. You put this sleeve on your arm and, assuming you’re skin tone is a range of pink to white, you have an arm covered with Rackspace tattoos.

The best swag of the event goes to Chisimba, a South African outlet at the show. Since South Africa just hosted the World Cup, they brought Chisimba.com vuvuzelas. Orange vuvuzelas.

And now we’re off to meet the wizard: The one person who always makes OSCON work for us — the one who pulls administrative rabbits out of hats and who is a textbook go-to person — would be O’Reilly’s May Munji. Thanks, May, for making the shows a great experience for those of us toiling in the booth trenches.

Tomorrow: The OSCON epilogues.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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The Wizard of OSCON – Day 1

July 21, 2010 Leave a comment

OSCON had been going on since Monday, however the exhibition hall opens for just two days — Wednesday and Thursday — of this week.

So when the doors opened at 10 a.m., a significant number of people filed into the hall — which could stand to be a tad cooler (as I hope it will be tomorrow) — and it was showtime.

The Fedora booth was adequately staffed — Karsten Wade, Robyn Bergeron and Kevin Higgins set up the booth the day before, and were in attendance Wednesday — as well as Tom “Spot” Calloway and John Poelstra. Mirano Cafiero, Malakai Wade and Saskia Wade filled out the staff for the day.

Last year, OSCON was held in San Jose, however Portland is a great city and it’s fine that the moved it back up here despite the fact that it would have been a lot more convenient for me if it were just “over the hill,” as we say in Santa Cruz County. The weather is great here, and being downtown has the advantage of the free train service between the Courtyard Marriott and the venue at the Portland Convention Center, which all cities should have.

It was great to see old friends and meet those I’ve spoken to over time but never met. Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier and I are now even: At SCALE 7X, I accidentally — I swear — made a mess at the OpenSUSE booth on his watch. Today, Zonker knocked over our tripod — an accident, I’m sure — settled the score. It was great to see Ilan Rabinovitch, my SCALE colleague; birthday girl and Linux Magazine associate publisher Rikki Kite; the Oregon State University gang — Jeff Sheltren of the OSU Open Source Lab, computer science professor Carlos Jensen and the OSU OSL’s Lance Albertson (Go Beavers!); David Kaplan, a mainstay in the Portland Linux scene (who lent his Linux expertise to a visitor at the booth — Thanks, Dave); and finally to meet Linux columnist par excellence Steven Vaughan-Nichols in person after corresponding with him for years.

Traffic for a better part of the day was heavy — always a good sign regarding the health of FOSS in general. SWAG — Stuff We All Get, for those keeping acronym score at home — was flying out of the booth. We’ll have to see if we can get through tomorrow with what we have left.

One thing about standing in the booth all day: While I live for working the booth and events like OSCON, more times than not, I end up walking like Fred Sanford at the end of the day. Call it a sign of age.

More tomorrow.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Categories: Fedora, OSCON Tags: , , ,

Down on the farm(ers market) with Linux

July 17, 2010 1 comment

Colonel Panik, my good friend and constant commenter to this blog, asked me to give you all some insights about what we’re finding at the Felton Farmers Market every Tuesday.

An order is an order, and Bob does outrank me.

So here’s what we’re finding in Felton:

More people are using Linux than come to the Felton LUG meeting: We’ve encountered roughly a dozen people in two weeks who live in Felton who use Linux who we’ve never seen at a meeting. My oft-echoed question, “Have you heard of Linux?” has been met with a constant “Yes,” and many of the people who have, and who have used (or are using) it are already using Ubuntu. I like to think this has something to do with the Lindependence events back in 2008, not to mention the Software Freedom Day events we’ve had here since 2007, but there’s no hard evidence to back this up. It’s just a hunch.

Most people are looking for digital alternatives: There are only a handful of people — I can only think of two in two weeks that we’ve had the table — that have no interest in FOSS after explaining what it is. In fact, a lot of people are looking for alternatives to the laundry list of maladies that accompany their daily Windows experience. In fact, easing them into FOSS with the OpenCD is a good way to introduce them to programs like OpenOffice.org and GIMP, and eventually we can get them to change operating systems to something — oh, I don’t know — free as in freedom and price?

“. . . I haven’t used it, but my $FAMILY_MEMBER has”: This is a common response by those who have not used Linux/FOSS themselves. This is a promising sign. Even though they may not be using it, at least they’re aware of it. Those who went home with a disk hopefully will know more about it and come back the following week with questions.

There are other things that amaze me: The Google engineer who stopped by the table — “Oh, I’d better know what Linux is.” — and others who work “over the hill,” as we call the Silicon Valley, who would stop with strawberries in hand to take a look at what we had, and take a disk or two to try out. Also, what amazes me is that a lot of youngsters — teens, of course — who have used FOSS and don’t mind spending their time at the table talking about things like “Will GIMP ever have only one window?”

Thanks for helping at the booth so far go to: Bob Lewis, my partner in Felton LUG organizing, who is one of the most sensible and passionate Linux evangelists I know; Karsten Wade, who brings his vast knowledge and rapier-quick wit, and OpenSource.com swag, to the table; Frank Adamson, the Ubuntu-using octogenarian who took his daily mile-walk to come to staff the table; and to Peter Belew, for making his talents available at the table.

See you next Tuesday. Coming up next: Reports from OSCON.

[FSF Associate Member](Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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