Home > Greg DeKoenigsberg, Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu > Pages from playbooks

Pages from playbooks

July 30, 2010

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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  1. July 30, 2010 at 10:51 am

    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.

    • July 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

      Thanks, Mark. I’ll reply to this in the next blog item, coming soon to a monitor near you (bearing in mind that I’m taking the liberty of copying verbatim this comment in the following blog).

  1. March 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm
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