As hard as it may be to believe, there are times when even I am speechless.
I keep the goings-on of Canonical and the Ubuntu community at an arm’s length — the real reason is to keep my blood pressure down. But actually, the gravity with which Canonical pulls Ubuntu further from its original FOSS orbit is nothing short of tragic, and it’s something that weighs heavily on any FOSS advocate.
Two influential Ubunteros — Martin Owens and Elizabeth Krumbach — weighed in on the situation recently and both of their recent blog posts deserve a good reading.
Martin writes in his most recent blog item:
“But I have to be honest, there isn’t an Ubuntu community any more. There’s a Canonical community, an ubuntu-users gaggle and maybe an enthusiasts posse. But no community that makes decisions, builds a consensus, advocates or educates. It’s dead now, it’s been that way for a while.”
What’s interesting is the discussion in the comments in Martin’s blog, especially the observations made by Jef Spaleta, who has always maintained an even keel in pointing out that the emperor had no clothes.
In my opinion, Elizabeth’s detailed blog post goes into great depth around the current situation, and it sheds a lot of light on it. But I think she’s unnecessarily hard on herself when she wraps up her blog with this:
“As a Community Council member I do feel like I’ve let the community down for not realizing what was happening to the community sooner. The duo of optimism and trust is not always a strength, it blinded me to some serious truths about how things have changed and our responsibility in this new community dynamic.”
Frankly, I am hoping that this works itself out, but I don’t hold out much hope. So I really have nothing to add to the two blog posts above, other than for those who are in this position to think carefully about the future.
POSTSCRIPT: There has been talk — some of it coming from the higher, orbital echelons of Canonical — that this potential schism is just about the rolling release or some other superficial issue. Let’s put aside for now how dangerous and counterproductive this misperception is, on a leadership level. Rather, let’s take a look at one example, outlined very eloquently by Aaron Seigo on a Google+ post here (I had read this earlier, but did not realize until now there was a link available to it). I’m sorry I am unable to comment on Aaron’s post since the comments are closed, but I would completely agree with his assessment. Oh, and one more thing: What does it say to a community when the project leader turns off comments in a blog post, as Mark Shuttleworth did in today’s offering?
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.)