Adios, Ubuntu

March 27, 2012

I’m not going to make a big deal about this, despite the fact it transcends mere annoyance and enters the anger zone. Also, I apologize to those who got comfortable with their popcorn and were ready for a verbal thrashing and grammatical throwdown of epic proportions here, as we’ve done in the past when this issue arose.

The reason I’m not going to make a big deal about it is because there’s nothing new in this issue — just the standard issue Canonical/Ubuntu behavior where it’s “Ubuntu uber alles” and the FOSS community be damned. But at the same time, the reason I bring it up is because it’s something which folks should keep on their proverbial radar, and keep track of it because just as it has happened continually in the past, chances are it will keep happening in the future.

Joe Brockmeier wrote something on his personal blog today that he discovered yesterday about “the Ubuntu kernel” in the upcoming Precise Pangolin release. I can’t add anything to this, and Joe writes something I completely agree with and something I wish I had written. This new “kernel” comes from a company that has systematically kept the word “Linux” at arm’s length, or further, for years now, and now they don’t even have the courtesy of acknowledging their roots.

What’s worse is that there is a revisionist tack to the story of who-begat-who, since Mark Shuttleworth, a person for whom the word “hubris” seems to have been coined, seems to think — and isn’t shy about opining — that Debian is part of the Ubuntu “ecosphere,” rather than the other way around.

To say nothing of the lack of upstream contribution by Canonical/Ubuntu — this has been outlined in the past here, here, and even here where The Mark and I square off, and pretty much all over the place.

As long as I’ve been using Linux — that would be 2006 and one of my first distros was Ubuntu (though my first was Debian, to which I’ve returned both using that distro and CrunchBang) — Ubuntu has done much to bring visibility to Linux, until it stopped calling itself that. So while it deserves a degree of gratitude for this, Canonical/Ubuntu has always been the salesman in the new-car showroom, taking credit for selling you this great product when the truth is that the salesman really did not have much to contribute to the construction of the car.

I’m more than welcome to let Canonical/Ubuntu and the legions of Ubunteros — many of them good people, some of them blind hero-worshiping sheep (this will become evident in the comments, no doubt) — go their own way and I’ll go mine.

(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 — which no longer includes Canonical/Ubuntu products — in the small business and home office environment.)

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  1. March 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Yeah, that’s been a burr under my saddle for a long time now. Having talked with someone fairly well up the Canonical ladder right here in Austin, it has been decided that the word “Linux” is a millstone around the neck of success. To be honest, There are times and instances where I tend to agree with this but to go out of the way and seemingly misrepresent the whole chicken and egg thing is another matter.

    I as well have washed my hands of Ubuntu. Our main installation disk is still the LTS 10.04 version but as soon as Mint comes out with their next LTS, that will replace Ubuntu as our official distro. Of course, we remaster it to include our own theme and added educational apps.

    Seems to me that Canonical/Ubuntu is running out of feet to shoot. Just sayin’.

    • March 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Hey, Ken — Yep, we’re going to ramp down any use of Canonical/Ubuntu products to our clients as well. I think they can get by just as well with Linux Mint.

      Hope you’re feeling better, man.

  2. March 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Shotgun! What ever bus Larry is on I will be with him.

    Makes me mad though, I have a very nice wool hat that
    keeps me warm in the winter, but it says Ubuntu 😦
    Have to send it to Goodwill.

    • March 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      I’ll send you a wool SCALE 10X hat to replace it, Bob. 🙂

    • dobs
      April 2, 2012 at 4:03 am

      You could preface ‘U….’ with an ‘X’

      • April 3, 2012 at 4:58 am

        that’s right

      • Fred
        April 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

        Exactly — I don’t see why, when Canonical/Ubuntu decided they didn’t like GNOME3, they didn’t just switch to Xfce for the default desktop and discontinue Xubuntu, since that would make Xubuntu a needless duplication.

      • April 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

        Interesting perspective. Actually, Fred, Canonical had a paid programmer on staff administering Kubuntu — the KDE desktop atop Ubuntu — so that may have been the first option (they recently took him off that project). The other *buntus are community efforts separate from Ubuntu which have the blessing of Ubuntu/Canonical, so I think the Xubuntu community would have something to say about that. Or not.

  3. Amenditman
    March 27, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I started out with a Kubuntu LiveCD for the first several months way back when in 2007. I’ve been an all-or-nothin’ Linux user ever since.

    I’ve always noticed this thing about Ubuntu.

  4. veggiericearoni
    March 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Failing some behind-the-scenes Microsoft-like Embrace and Extend backtwisting deal between the Canonical higher-ups and Linux Mint’s Clement Lefebvre or another popular distro’s maintainers, I also see Ubuntu eventually fading into insignificance. Probably very slowly at first, because the Ubunteros can still effectively keep proclaiming the gotta-have benefits of their latest-and-greatest .04 and .10 release features.
    But fade away, Ubuntu certainly WILL.

  5. Paul Sams
    March 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Glad to see Ken on other sites. To me it seems Ubuntu has forgotten where it came from. I also agree with veggiericear(hope I got that right) that Ubuntu will gradually fade away. I was a huge fan of Mepis because it made Linux easy for someone like me. I then learned how to install Debian. Mepis showed innovation because it made Debian easy, Ubuntu also did that in it’s early days. Philip Newborough has taken openbox and made it easy for me and I suspect it will only get better. The true innovation seems to come from the real Linux community whether it’s Red Hat, Debian or people like Philip Newborough and many others.
    Full disclosure, I’ve used cut and pasted on some parts here due to my talent for misspelling.
    Paul Sams

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