Home > GNU/Linux, Kubuntu, linux, Linux, Lubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu, Xubuntu > Put me on a highway and show me a sign

Put me on a highway and show me a sign

November 3, 2011

Bruce Byfield and I don’t always agree. When we don’t, it’s usually a “number-of-angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin” issue; one of minutiae rather than of substance, and sometimes we argue past each other when there’s a misunderstanding on the part of one of us, usually me.

But when we do agree, he’s far better at articulating what I would say. Today, Bruce wrote an exceptional blog item entitled “A Disturbing Dialog About Ubuntu and Unity,” where he points out a moment of clarity in what seems to be the direction of Ubuntu which is outlined in Bug #882274, filed by Tal Liron under the title “Community engagement is broken.”

It’s a bug that apparently won’t be fixed. But don’t take my word for it, go ahead and first read Bruce’s blog item (a repost of the same link above), or read the bug report itself (again, another repost). I’ll wait.

My favorite quote in the whole thing, and there are many, comes from Ubuntu SABDFL* Mark Shuttleworth: “I fully accept that Unity may not be for you. Then don’t use it. On Ubuntu you can choose Unity, KDE, GNOME, XFCE, and many others.”

And there you are, folks — certainly a unique concept of “community” in three words: My way or highway. Go ahead and use one of the other ‘buntus if you so desire, since we’re not changing the flagship for anyone or anything.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog item, Shuttleworth is right about this: If Unity works for you, use it. If it doesn’t, then don’t. There are many other choices out there, and I’d be willing to bet people are choosing “highway” instead of Shuttleworth’s “my way.”

Fortunately, the FOSS highway provides a lot of adequate alternatives: Linux Mint, this lane, exit only. Fedora, next exit. Debian ahead. OpenSUSE, exit 5 miles. You can even get off the main highway and take some of the backroads to some of the less-traveled distros, if you like.

So put me on a highway and show me a sign . . . .

*SABDFL — Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life, a moniker picked up from Steven Rosenberg’s recent blog item. Thanks, Steven.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software 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 has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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  1. November 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I haven’t had any significant time in Unity, but I find it hard to believe that this is a single interface that is going to be good for PCs, tablets and smartphones.

    Ubuntu is making the right move with a 5-year desktop LTS set to be released next year, but I fear that Unity is not mature enough for regular users, let alone enterprise users.

    Larry, have you been using GNOME 3? I’ve become increasingly reliant on GNOME 2, and I wonder if it’ll be GNOME 3, Xfce or LXDE for me in the future.

    • November 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      I can’t use GNOME 3 — my hardware is too old. So I use mostly Xfce on Fedora and Xubuntu on that side. GNOME 2 on Debian, of course. I’d like to have hardware that would handle GNOME 3, but I don’t. I spent a day trying to like Unity and blogged about it here: https://larrythefreesoftwareguy.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/a-unity-workaround/ and the solution was to use Xubuntu.

      • November 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

        What video card and driver specifically? Did you see the news about gnome shell no longer blacklist the llvmpipe software render in the F17 timreframe? Software rendered gnome shell for everyone

      • November 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm

        Really? I’ll have to check that out. I’m on a ThinkPad T30, and that’s an ATI Radeon, I think (though I’d have to look it up). It plays havoc with Plymouth as well, but I suffer with it when F16 boots. I’ll go get an F16 beta now and try it out.

  2. Bruce Byfield
    November 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    About your opening: I can only quote Tolkien: “it was a compliment, and so, of course, not true.”

    – Bruce Byfield

    • November 3, 2011 at 6:52 pm

      Au contraire, my good man.

  3. November 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Wow, I’m going to have to keep an eye out for more posts from Tal Liron when I’m reading over forums and lists. He did a reasonable good job of staying on message in that bug report. If I end up on the opposite side of an issue in a discussion with him..its going to be pretty fantastic level discourse.


  4. November 4, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Of all the Linux/FOSS centric places on the web LtFSG is the one with the
    fewest mentions of the OS’s from the Proprietary Only boys and girls.
    That is a good thing. If Canonical cannot use the words Linux and FOSS
    anywhere on their website or in the printed news/pr flack missives there
    may be reason not to mention them here also? I mean we could be one
    of those accused of Toxic comments by the SAAOTU. Self Appointed
    Arbiter Of The Universe.

    I am with LtFSG, heading down the road less traveled.

  5. November 5, 2011 at 1:06 am

    The “my way or the highway” charge can be levied against the developers of KDE 4 and Gnome 3 as well. Seems a tad unfair to level it exclusively at Shuttleworth.

  6. November 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

    @Larry McCauley, You are right. So THEM too!

    Just here for the coffee and the Community.
    Take away either and I am not here.

    LtFSG has admitted he does letters on dead tree
    media, I can learn that.

  7. November 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Nothing like a hearty, full blooded assault right across the board! As an added variant to the universe as we know it I hear Mint are forking gnome 2 – perhaps a case of “your way or no way” to those struggling with the tabletisation of everything gnomic.

  8. November 5, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I wonder, looking at Gnome 3, if UI designers sit down with some fuzzy felts from time to time…

    • November 5, 2011 at 10:45 am

      My guess is that they really like curtains . . . .

      • November 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

        Well, one must take one’s inspiration where one finds it. Curtains. Yep. Definitely curtains.

  9. November 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Just because Mark Shuttleworth says they are not gonna deviate from Unity as their default UI, doesn’t qualify as a my way or the highway mentality. If that were the case, then they would do away with funding all the other derivatives they sponsor. It’s only one path to the same destination. Is it my way or highway because KDE no longer supports the once highly popular KDE 3.5 series or because Gnome has ditched Gnome 2 and focused on their Gnome 3 Shell? These attempts to vilify Shuttleworth are complete nonsense. By promoting Unity, he isn’t limiting your choices. If you like KDE, then you can use Kubuntu. XFCE? There’s Xubuntu, LXDE,? you have Lubuntu. So forth and so on. Just because YOU, in particular doesn’t mean it won’t succeed or become adopted by the masses. But then again, you are too cool for Unity. It’s a DE for mindless sheep who never had choices anyways. Right???

    • November 5, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      You should probably take a breath or two and relax. I’m not too cool for Unity and many people who have problems with Unity aren’t claiming that they’re too cool for Unity. Mark Shuttleworth is putting up a straw man to knock down. I don’t like Unity – it doesn’t work for me, and thankfully I have options. So does everyone else. Even Shuttleworth says that. So why the rant?

  10. 1roxtar
    November 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Don’t mistake my cynicism for a rant. I’ve read plenty of your blogs and understand that you come from the “hate Unity” camp, so any opinion is gonna reflect that through and through. Articles like these that try to paint Shuttleworth as someone who doesn’t care what community users want fuels my ire. Especially when articles make it seem like there is a mass exodus departing from Unity. Take an honest look and realize that Ubuntu’s numbers are still climbing and a lot of the UDS news concerning 12.04 has been quite positive.

    • November 6, 2011 at 9:49 am

      I’m sorry my opinion raises your ire, but Shuttleworth has done little to dispel the wealth of evidence that shows he lives by the golden rule: Whomever has the gold makes the rules. By the way, if you think I hate Unity so much, you can ask yourself why I would take the time to give a presentation at Felton LUG yesterday on Oneiric in place of Elizabeth Krumbach, who couldn’t make it. Mull that over while drinking the Kool-Aid.

  11. 1roxtar
    November 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Didn’t you say in a previous blog, that you “hate Unity with the heat of a nova”??? So send me a transcript so I can see who really is drinking the koolaid. I’m sure any blog or speech isn’t gonna come through with some good and honest objectivity.

    • November 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Touche! While I dislike the interface and find it a dysfunctional piece of trash, I also think enough of the FOSS paradigm to allow people the freedom to make their own decisions.

  12. November 6, 2011 at 6:48 pm


    Actually.. Larry said it was common _perception_ that he hates Unity with the heat of a nova. He didn’t actually say he hated it that much. It’s a subtle bit of wordplay which you seemed to have missed.


    • 1roxtar
      November 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      “and b) another common perception, admittedly somewhat true, is that I hate Unity with the heat of a nova.” ~Mark is Right, Mark is Wrong Blog~ I didn’t miss anything, my friend. Nevertheless, I’m not trying to come off as a troll or negative. I enjoy your articles and even subscribed to them. 😉

  1. November 5, 2011 at 9:22 am
  2. November 8, 2011 at 1:19 am
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