It’s getting late in the game and the team you’re rooting for is down by a significant margin. As a San Francisco Giants fan, this season I know that feeling all too well. With a week and a half left in Canonical’s Indiegogo campaign, we’re now starting to see posts on social media like this one on Google+ that starts out: “For the sake of the linux community, and the future of open source hardware projects, please help Ubuntu Edge become real.”
With 11 days left and with the total so far at the mid-$9 million level, it appears it’s going to take either a “Hail Mary” pass by someone with mile-deep pockets or a room full of Michael Bloombergs with cash-filled briefcases to make the $32 million goal originally sought by Canonical. Still, $9 million plus — or whatever Canonical ends up with after the deadline — is nothing to sneeze at, and we trust that it will be put to good use when it comes to developing Ubuntu Edge.
[Edit: I know the Indiegogo campaign is set up so that if Canonical doesn't make the goal, then they don't get the money. I would like to think, however, that if people are that serious about putting up money and/or ordering hardware, they should be able to do so and that Canonical should take this into account going forward.]
By a number of metrics, though, the Ubuntu Edge campaign is a short-term success by a wide margin, no matter what the final tally show 11 days from now.
But long-term success? Let’s see how — or even if — Canonical delivers on Ubuntu Edge.
Meanwhile, back at Google+ . . . Aaron Seigo, in his normally straightforward and reasonable manner borne of an eloquence and wisdom that make him one of the true leaders of FOSS, weighs in with some comments in this thread.
Since he says this far better than I would, I’ll let Aaron drive here. He says in his first comment:
“(… someone mentioned me, so here I come :)
“Yes, open hardware is very hard; just getting properly open software on consumer grade electronics that you can manufacturer your own devices with is not easy. We’re finally there with the Vivaldi tablet we’ve been working on for a year now; we’re working out the last Q/A issues on the factory lines (so many parts that have to go together just perfectly), but I can definitely tell you that it is not easy.
“Due to this, I respect that Canonical has decided to take on such a project.
“The biggest concern I have is exactly what the +Mehdi Zakaria Benadel alludes to in his original post:
“Some people have become convinced that the Edge is critical to the future of open hardware, and so if the funding fails to materialize they may take this is a signal that Free software and open consumer electronics just aren’t meant to be.
“Thankfully, that is not the case. Canonical is not all of Linux or Free software; Ubuntu is not all of Linux or Free software. Even if Canonical does not succeed in this, others will persist on and we will succeed.
“If the Edge succeeds then we can rejoice together. At this point that looks unlikely, however. If it does not succeed then we simply need to move on and not let one failure by one company convince us that the sky has fallen in.
“Companies and projects fail all the time, that’s just how it is. Fortunately enough also succeed to keep progress moving. This is true not only in Free software, but all areas of effort in this world.
“This is also why it is so important that we do not somehow become deluded into thinking that the future of Free software rests on the shoulder of Canonical or Ubuntu. We need to put our eggs in multiple baskets and build no single points of failure in our community, or in our minds.
“Regardless of how this pans out, everyone will learn a lot from it.”
Eleven days from now, the Indiegogo campaign will wrap up and the final tally will be announced 12 days hence. Chances are that it will not be $32 million. Regardless of how much is collected, it will be, at best, something that Canonical can build on and, again, the wider FOSS world surely shares the hope that it is something on which Canonical follows through.
What it won’t be is the beginning of the end for the FOSS paradigm, which will continue to thrive regardless of what happens with Ubuntu Edge.
So cue up the musical “Annie” and enjoy your Sunday.
Oh, before I forget: This blog mentioned Ubuntu Edge and, of course, it’s time for the windup and the pitch.
Want to give some money to projects that really make a difference? Give instead to:
Reglue (especially Reglue, which is creating a new generation of FOSS users as you read this sentence)
Partimus (bringing Linux boxes to classrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area, or any other project like it)
CrunchBang (or your favorite distro, if it accepts donations)
Tux4Kids (the folks who bring you Tux Paint and other educational FOSS programs across platforms)
Or even taking a look at the list of projects at Software for the Public Interest and choose one of those.
[Blogger's Note: FOSS Force, which provides news and commentary on all things Free/Open Source, currently has a poll running to rank the Best Personal Linux or FOSS Blog, in which they include Larry the Free Software Guy. All the blogs are excellent, but I shamelessly admit that this is an appeal to vote for me. So if you like this blog, use one of your two first-round votes -- yes, you have two votes to vote for two blogs (not two of the same one) -- to vote for Larry the Free Software Guy. If you don't like this blog, cast your votes for two of the others: I'd vote for Ken Starks' Blog of Helios or write in Jim Eriksen's Jim's 2011 blog at http://jims2011.blogspot.com (write-ins must be accompanied by the URL). And whomever you choose in the privacy of the digital voting booth, thank you for voting!]
This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.
(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)