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Waterloo or Alamo?

August 21, 2013

Unless someone comes up with about $20 million in the next two hours — as I write this late on Wednesday evening — it looks like the Indiegogo campaign to raise $32 million fails.

mark_32milMuch will be made of this over the next several days in the FOSS press. But the marketing value aside, it’s hard to see how this campaign’s failure can be claimed as a victory for Ubuntu here, despite whatever spin the corporate masters at Canonical might produce as PR going forward. While it may have captured the imagination and while it may have inspired some to contribute, in the final analysis it failed — none of the money in the campaign will go to Canonical since it didn’t make its goal, and it begs the question of what happens to all those orders going forward.

Regardless, defeats are defeats. What remains to be seen is whether this is Canonical/Ubuntu’s Waterloo or its Alamo.

Those of you who didn’t sleep through History class will get the reference. Napoleon got throttled and was exiled after the battle of Waterloo in 1815, never to recover the greatness he once achieved. Meanwhile, 21 years later and a hemisphere away, 189 Texans took on a Mexican invading force of 1,800 at a mission near San Antonio — all the Texans died, but it inspired a remaining force to defeat the Mexicans a month later in San Jacinto.

It’s simple, really.

This defeat becomes a Waterloo if Canonical packs in this project and walks away. A speaker from Canonical a few weeks ago said he thought that, in his personal opinion, the company would drop the phone if the goal was not made.

But this defeat becomes an Alamo if Canonical rallies behind the Ubuntu Edge project despite the setback, and delivers the Ubuntu Edge next year as promised regardless of the Indiegogo campaign’s results.

Time will tell.

Friendly reminder: The final round of FOSS Force’s Best Personal Linux and FOSS Blog poll runs through Monday. So, if you have a minute or two to spare and are so inclined, vote here. While it’s a blessing and a curse, I’m on the ballot twice, for this blog and for Larry the CrunchBang Guy. I’d really like your vote for this blog, but the other one would be fine, too. Thanks. I’m Larry the Free Software Guy/Larry the CrunchBang Guy and I approve this message.

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.)

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  1. Bob Pianka
    August 22, 2013 at 7:54 am


    Thanks for all the great coverage and commentary lately.
    I was a little disappointed by this posting, it did not contain any reference to donate to other, worthy, causes.

    Keep up the good work.

    Bob Pianka

    • August 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

      You’re absolutely right, Bob, and I apologize for the omission. I can only say in my defense it was late and I was literally falling asleep at the keyboard (I hope I’m not narcoleptic). Anyway, this should have been at the end:

      Hey, Ubuntu Edge was mentioned again: This blog mentioned Ubuntu Edge and, of course, you know the drill by now.

      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.

  2. August 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    My prediction: the Edge is dead, but Ubuntu’s software will ship on cheap phones that never make it out of the developing world. The phones will be so crappy that not even Ubuntu fans will want them. Meanwhile, FirefoxOS will be a minute success, and Jolla/Sailfish will turn a profit in Asia but never ship to the West. What of Tizen?! Who knows. Intel’s history with Moblin and MeeGo is not any more encouraging than Samsung’s with Bada. Either Tizen or FirefoxOS can make a go of it, enough to stay viable and relevant, if we are lucky. And Tizen/Samsung has really contributed to Linux kernel of late: fingers crossed.

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