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Ubuntu Open Source Linux

Shuttleworth On Ubuntu Community Drama 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
In the wake of the Ubuntu Developer Summit, a number of contributors from its community have been speaking out, saying they're uncertain about their role and their future working on Ubuntu. They're concerned about how Canonical is making decisions, and also how (and when) those decisions are being communicated. Now, Mark Shuttleworth has addressed the issue in a blog post. He said, "The sky is not falling in. Really. Ubuntu is a group of people who get together with common purpose. How we achieve that purpose is up to us, and everyone has a say in what they can and will contribute. Canonical's contribution is massive. It's simply nonsense to say that Canonical gets 'what it wants' more than anybody else. Hell, half the time *I* don't get exactly what I want. It just doesn't work that way: lots of people work hard to the best of their abilities, the result is Ubuntu. The combination of Canonical and community is what makes that amazing. There are lots of pure community distro's. And wow, they are full of politics, spite, frustration, venality and disappointment. Why? Because people are people, and work is hard, and collaboration is even harder. That's nothing to do with Canonical, and everything to do with life. In fact, in most of the pure-community projects I've watched and participated in, the biggest meme is 'if only we had someone that could do the heavy lifting.' Ubuntu has that in Canonical – and the combination of our joint efforts has become the most popular platform for Linux fans. If you've done what you want for Ubuntu, then move on. That's normal – there's no need to poison the well behind you just because you want to try something else. It's also the case that we've shifted gear to leadership rather than integration." He also had an interesting comment about Ubuntu's target userbase: "I simply have zero interest in the crowd who wants to be different. Leet. 'Linux is supposed to be hard so it's exclusive' is just the dumbest thing that a smart person could say."
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Shuttleworth On Ubuntu Community Drama

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  • True (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:22AM (#43115973)

    "I simply have zero interest in the crowd who wants to be different. Leet. 'Linux is supposed to be hard so it's exclusive' is just the dumbest thing that a smart person could say."

    They should all run plan-9 or Haiku

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:25AM (#43116017)

    I can leave my girlfriend at a Gnome 2 machine forever and not get any questions about how anything is supposed to work, because it's functionally very similar to Windows.

    Put her in front of a machine running Unity and she's continually asking 'why is this doing this?', 'how do I do this?', 'where did that window go and how can I get it back?', and 'what is this crap anyway?'

    So I would say that Canonical has gone out of its way to make Linux hard to use.

  • by hessian (467078) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:29AM (#43116069) Homepage Journal

    This was the core of his rant:

    The combination of Canonical and community is what makes that amazing. There are lots of pure community distro's. And wow, they are full of politics, spite, frustration, venality and disappointment. Why? Because people are people, and work is hard, and collaboration is even harder. That's nothing to do with Canonical, and everything to do with life.

    He's side-stepping the issue in that the point is that Canonical wields more power than the average contributor, and thus is in more of an authoritarian relationship.

    However, he's hit on a bigger point, which is that in any collaborative software project, someone needs to be the silverback who forces everyone else to focus, or people do only what they want to do and blow off the unfun stuff.

    Unfortunately, unfun stuff includes refinements to code to make sure it works well, drivers, documentation, gnarly bug fixes, and the like.

  • by znanue (2782675) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:30AM (#43116079)

    It is a false choice to say that pandering to mercantile interests will always go against the FOSS/Server interests. They often can align. Plus, Linux has succeeded despite its desktop and difficulty to install, not because of it. Shuttleworth isn't advocating putting trusted computing in the hands of MS, he just is saying things should be easier on the desktop. And why the hell not?

    Z

  • Unity is hard (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:31AM (#43116099)

    So why did he force unity down the users' throats? XFCE is much easier to use!

  • by undeadbill (2490070) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:32AM (#43116115)

    To an extent, I like the distro, but I've had similar complaints about how they have changed user level features in the past without offering any kind of migration path. Now it looks like the same mentality behind Canonical's management and release style has finally reached developers as well.

    Well, it isn't the end of the world. There are plenty of other distros. I wouldn't be surprised to see most of the devs just go back to Debian.

  • by Covalent (1001277) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:45AM (#43116251)
    +1

    The unfun stuff is the killer every time. Either you pay somebody to do that work, or it doesn't generally get done. I have used Ubuntu for several years now, and I have never seen the reason for the wrath some people have toward Unity. That said, there are a few glitches and odd functionalities that, were I a programmer, I would contribute fixes for. But I'm not. And the work required to correct these problems is certainly going to be time-consuming and tedious. Therefore, it probably won't get done.

    In total, though, I'd still rather work on Ubuntu than Windows or Mac any day. Windows because it seems to be able to slow down the fastest machine in no time flat, and Mac because despite its reliability I don't like it and I can't change the things I don't like. With Ubuntu I (generally) can.
  • Remember... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:46AM (#43116255)
    Ubuntu has some power to make Linux more known in general crowd, which in turn helps the Linux ecosystem as whole. Thus it might be good to let Ubuntu flourish on the side, even if you are a user of some other distro.
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:48AM (#43116301) Homepage Journal
    That you use ubuntu don't mean that you must use Unity. You can complain all you want about the only possible desktop environment in windows or mac, but in linux you have plenty of options.
  • too bad it's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:49AM (#43116321)

    He also had an interesting comment about Ubuntu's target userbase: "I simply have zero interest in the crowd who wants to be different. Leet. 'Linux is supposed to be hard so it's exclusive' is just the dumbest thing that a smart person could say."

    Too bad that's the opinion of way too many people on too many Linux forums. In fact, that attitude launched Linux. It wasn't about total computer cost or features. It was about "I'm better than you" and they shut out all the other problems Linux had to pretend it's an ideal OS instead of addressing them to make it more user-friendly.

  • Re:True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:49AM (#43116329)

    Every post Shuttleworth plays this "1337 crowd" card just to avoid actually discussing the issues.

    The issues at hand this time were "Mir" and "the lack of descision power from the Ubuntu community". But he choose yet again to blame everything on the "1337 crowd".

  • by bazorg (911295) on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:54AM (#43116383) Homepage

    At some point someone has to say that "I can't run this ship by consensus". Now that everyone and their dog have access to the internet it is very visible that whenever something changes, there are people who voice their disagreement with the new thing; and if there's no change, then people will vote with their feet and say that they will choose the most innovative product/company/project.

    What is regrettable with all this is that whenever there's news from Ubuntu, there's no shortage of people saying that they moved away to Mint or whatever. If that is the case, why comment Ubuntu stories at all?

  • Red herring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JonJ (907502) <jon.jahren@gmail.com> on Friday March 08, 2013 @11:58AM (#43116417)
    It's not about difficult vs easy when it comes to distributions. Both Fedora and OpenSUSE installs with relative ease these days. But Canonicals insistance of doing everything alone, fragmenting with new upstream projects. There's no rhyme nor reason for Mir, and all it does is cause headaches everywhere. And that's what they've gotten most shit for these past days. Not their ease of use.
  • Re:True (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Friday March 08, 2013 @12:01PM (#43116451) Homepage Journal

    Yes, consistency is important - a lesson Microsoft has also forgotten.

    If I am to support users, I need to know that they can find programs and applications by following my instructions, and that it doesn't change for them depending on what they do.

    And I don't want replacement apps for the standard apps, powercharged to do things badly - Unix and Linux follows a toolbox approach for good reason. If I need to calculate a value in a script, I expect bc to be present. Not having to pull up a fancy schmanzy calculator and manually feed in the numbers. By all means, give the user that too, but don't get rid of the baseline.

  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Friday March 08, 2013 @12:08PM (#43116541)

    At the end of the day it's his company and if he wants to take Ubuntu in his/their own direction that's up to them.

    I used Ubuntu for many years and was really happy with it. I moved on since then and use another distro.

    Ubuntu has done a lot of great work for the Linux community and also got a few things wrong (in my humble opinion).

    There is no reason to hate them for it. People make the opinions known and it's up to Conanical to take these opinions on board or not.

    There is so much choice out there for Linux and if you don't agree with Ubuntu's direction use something else. Ubunutu is open-source so you can roll your own version or use a derivative.

      But really all the hate for Ubuntu and Shuttleworth is childish.

    Freedom as in speech not beer.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday March 08, 2013 @12:20PM (#43116701) Journal

    This post makes you sound like a dumb person with a massive chip on your shoulder.

    In fact, that attitude launched Linux.... It was about "I'm better than you"

    No, the attitide that launched Linux was: I'm writing a kernel for fun and I want to share it with you.

    The fact that this has transformed in your warped little brain to other people trying to make themselves look better than you has become a self fulfilling prophecy. They gave away cool stuff for free and you complain aabout it. Now, they do look much better than you.

  • by interval1066 (668936) on Friday March 08, 2013 @12:22PM (#43116745) Homepage Journal

    'Linux is supposed to be hard so it's exclusive' is just the dumbest thing that a smart person could say.

    He's right, you know,

  • Re:True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigredradio (631970) on Friday March 08, 2013 @12:39PM (#43116959) Homepage Journal

    I have seen this as well. It's not uncommon for someone coming from Windows to ask "What is a good Linux distro to learn on?". Some knucklehead will pipe up with Gentoo, LFS, or Slackware so that they "learn" linux.

    Most new users have embraced Linux by starting with Ubuntu rather than getting frustrated and giving up like in the "good ol' days".

  • by dimeglio (456244) on Friday March 08, 2013 @12:44PM (#43117033)

    I definitively agree. Canonical is taking a leadership role and there's nothing wrong with that. It often easy for a few developers to say "hey, let's implement a FOSS version of c#, Java, Windows, SMB, etc." Sure people want these but at the same time, where is our new desktop paradigm, our more efficient file sharing protocol? MIR is an example of getting out of this pattern where we simply FOSS things but actually show some innovation. Obviously there is innovation in the FOSS arena but it need to be more up front.

  • !Hypocrisy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davydagger (2566757) on Friday March 08, 2013 @12:56PM (#43117157)
    He said he wants nothing to do with the crowd who wants to be diffrent

    upstart, now unity, now mir.

    Ubuntu is at the forefront of non-standard projects that fracture the GNU/Linux community, with software that generally sucks btw.

    Mir has yet to be seen but going by upstart and unity, I don't have much hope.

    No, I don't want linux to be exlcusive for experts only, I want it to be easy to use, and I want it to use compatible software as everyone else, so what runs on ubuntu runs on red hat, runs on arch, so we have a shared knowledge base.

    This was a reality since glibc became ABI stable.
  • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:08PM (#43117303)

    I simply have zero interest in the crowd who wants to be different

    And that's why he keeps breaking long-established UI convention and keeps reinventing the wheel in any shape but round?

    "Wanting to be different" is what is destroying Ubuntu.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:27PM (#43117533) Homepage

    He's side-stepping the issue in that the point is that Canonical wields more power than the average contributor, and thus is in more of an authoritarian relationship.

    Well duh, are you also going to complain that Red Hat calls most the shots for Red Hat Enterprise Linux? Unless things have changed radically while I wasn't paying attention, Ubuntu is still very much Canonical's product. Working with the community and being run by the community are two entirely different things and Canonical clearly isn't planning to let someone else tell them what to do. This is more of a wagon train, if you want to join up with Canonical because you're going in the same direction you can, but they still set the destination and if you don't like it, well maybe you shouldn't be in it instead of complaining that this not where you'd like to go. There's not really a shortage of other distros to work with if their goals are more similar to your own, is it?

  • Re:True (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:34PM (#43117647)

    Gentoo is by far the easiest Linux distro to use. I remember a discussion I had with a Windows user the other day:
    "Windows is soo much easier and less complex than Linux"
    My reply? "No, it just seems easier since you know nothing about it."
    That is the real problem here, we confuse obfuscation of system functions with easy of use. As long as it work it works fine its easy to use but if something fails or you need to do something else then the majority of the user base, you are in a nonstandard undocumented nightmare.
    Reminds me of an old quote "Visual Basic makes the easy things easier and the hard thing impossible." To apply this to Gentoo "Gentoo makers the easy things harder and the (very) hard things easy!"

  • Re:True (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:43PM (#43117773)

    Basically, ubuntu is so full of magic to make it "easy" that it's getting harder and harder to make it work the way I need to, and figure out what the hell is going on under the hood when something does go wrong.

    You really need to remember that you are not Ubuntu's average target user. Metaphorically, you are complaining that the lemon you bought from the supermarket is too sour and not sweet enough. Maybe you should have bought some sugar.

  • Re:True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by faedle (114018) on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:33PM (#43118413) Homepage Journal

    The rub comes in that Ubuntu is not necessarily a "fair" representation of what "the Linux" is, anymore than Android is.

    I've seen many a person who has been using Ubuntu for a significant amount of time flounder when given another distro to work with: even Debian. There is a "*NIX way of doing things", and Ubuntu often deviates from that. Sometimes dangerously far.

    And it can hurt the community. Many an Ubuntu user comes wandering in to the support forums for (insert FOSS project here) all confused, and it is difficult for the community to help them because between Debinization of the package and what Ubuntu does to the Debian package it's often hard to figure out where things have moved.

    Ubuntu is walking a path away from what Linux (and other Unices) have been in the past towards something of their own design, often not asking what Linux people want. That's all fine and dandy, but for Shuttleworth to basically tell long-term users "we're gonna do what we want, go fuck yourself" is not right either. And that's basically what he's saying.

  • by Unknown Lamer (78415) Works for Slashdot <clinton AT unknownlamer DOT org> on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:38PM (#43118481) Homepage Journal

    My Grandmother's hard drive died a few years ago and ... I got a cheap 1TB drive to replace it (nothing cheaper available really at the time) and of course the XP restore disk decided she was a filthy pirate and that was that.

    After installing Debian and KDE for her, my support requests have become nil, except when any of my younger cousins visit and why does this flash game not work... because Adobe hates your freedom children, that's why. But my Grandmother just readers her email and plays KPatience and it Just Works (tm).

  • by Pausanias (681077) <(pausaniasx) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday March 08, 2013 @02:42PM (#43118525)

    It's more than a rhetorical tactic. It's an intellectual fail that was inherited from the GNOME project. The fail goes like this: "We must have a good default UI. Instead of giving advanced users the ability to tweak that interface via an 'Advanced' button, let us just take away their ability to tweak. Because noobs are so noobish they will click on Advanced, screw things up, and then complain to us."

    False and Wrong, idiots. And a big fail. There is plenty of software (especially a lot of Apple software, which I hear is quite popular), with preference dialogs that have "Advanced..." buttons, and guess what, noone on the forums is complaining of stuff that was misconfigured. (They are complaining of actual Apple fails, but that is another story).

    That one epic fail---that one decision that you can't have both a simple UI, and a button somewhere in the preferences that caters to your advanced users, is the root of all the backlash against GNOME and Ubuntu. Your hubris is costing you dearly.

    Put an effing advanced button on all your preferences. And no, gconf-editor or dconf-editor or any of that garbage doesn't cut it. It needs to be COMPREHENSIBLE to be useful.

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday March 08, 2013 @03:07PM (#43118915) Homepage

    Linux was always a system that required system-level tweaking in order to get and keep a system up and running. Defaults weren't particularly sensible for most use cases, drivers and components were unstable and needed to be replaced/reconfigured/updated/patched in order to achieve a stable, functioning work environment, and so on, and some things weren't "done yet"—drivers still under development years after hardware releases, and so on, with users waiting for them and needing to install/make use of them as soon as they were released.

    That's just the nature of the beast when you're talking about a community-driven system with myriad code inputs that bases bunches of code on reverse-engineering.

    But so long as Linux was reasonably transparent, anyone that valued free-as-in-beer and free-as-in-speech software could make the cost-benefit calculation that the amount of extra work and patience required to get and keep a system up and running was justified by the benefits involved.

    Already by 2009, however, I felt as though the costs were growing while the benefits were the same as they had always been. An accelerating decrease in the transparency and modularity of desktop Linux distributions led the kinds of tweaking necessary to get and keep a linux system up and running to take longer and longer for me, and the continuous rush of new code and new subsystems that significantly different from the UNIX classics meant a corresponding increase in the need to continue to study and learn how these worked.

    But my job wasn't and has never been Linux development, so this extra learning and work didn't contribute to my bottom line. It was just an increasing quantity of valuable time and energy being siphoned away from it, in fact.

    There is still a market for a stable, easy-to-use, transparent Linux system with a smooth learning curve from easy-to-use/easy-to-learn through master-tasks/hard-to-learn, one that can open all of the documents, media, and network streams that mass market users need to be able to open and that is also free and open in all senses.

    The problem isn't that Canonical is leading, it's the content of the leadership—both in terms of social/political issues, and in terms of the technical result, that aren't encouraging. Maybe one day someone will take up the mantle and finally deliver an easy-to-use, modular, transparent and powerful Linux system that's stable, has sensible defaults, and is both free and open. But to date nobody's come near the target, which is kind of a shame, because everyone's been able to see it for a decade, and it's often seemed as though "just a little bit of leadership" would get Linux there.

    But I don't think Canonical is it; they're out to fulfill other goals/purposes, leaving that opportunity to continue to be open.

  • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wo ... m ['yah' in gap]> on Friday March 08, 2013 @05:46PM (#43120905)
    Well, what if you're trying to convince your less technical friends to try Linux? You are not likely to say, "I recommend Ubuntu. Install that, and as soon as it's installed replace the default graphical user interface layout Unity with something else, like XFCE." Most likely, you'll recommend a version of Linux that has a desktop layout you think they would find easy to understand, useful, and visually pleasing as the default.

    I don't hate Unity. I think it's decent, just not good enough for me to recommend it to a newbie over XFCE, KDE, or Cinnamon.

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