Ubuntu is Just All Right with Me

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If you know me, you know I'm a Red Hat / Fedora fanboy. I have written a blog post that explain why I'm fond of them and when someone asks me, I refer to it.

Recently a GNOME survey (aka the Neary report) came out that showed who contributes to GNOME and at what levels. Not so oddly enough the results of it turned out similarly to periodic Linux kernel surveys done by LWN and Greg KH. The results being that Red Hat is the top named contributor.

It just so happens that Canonical (the sponsor of Ubuntu) typically does not fair so well on such surveys and as a result they are often criticized for their perceived lack of upstream contributions.

In a response to the Neary report a former Red Hat employee named Greg DeKoenigsberg wrote a pretty nasty blog posting calling Canonical out. Both Jono Bacon and Mark Shuttleworth have responded to Greg, and Greg responded back. Finally Greg decided he regretted the first blog post. Along the way there were a few good posts by Fedora's Adam Williamson (posts 1 and 2).

Some have pointed out that this in-fighting is not so good for the Linux community. What do I think? Well, being a Red Hat fanboy I do tend to take sides but I do agree with Adam Williamson's second posting as to the motivation of Canonical criticism... and I don't necessarily think it is a bad thing as long as it doesn't get out of hand, and thus far it hasn't.

I thought I'd offer my own clarifications.

Material here on MontanaLinux.org

I'd like to see more Ubuntu coverage on MontanaLinux.org but me not being an Ubuntu person, I'm not going to be the one to do it. I do encourage community participation on this website and I would love to see others do some Ubuntu postings. I have done a little prodding on IRC asking for Ubuntu-related contributions, but thus far it hasn't panned out. I certainly look forward to Ubuntu related postings here as well as any other Linux related postings.

Go ahead, take me up on my offer. I realize that my older Drupal install isn't the most user-friendly web publishing system... so if anyone has any questions about using it, just ask.

Distros I recommend

What Linux distro do I recommend to people who ask me? Well, it depends. If it is someone I'm going to have to interact with... who is going to be asking me for help... I recommend to them what I use... which is primarily RHEL or CentOS on servers and Fedora on desktops. I choose those because they are what I like and am most familiar with... and if they are going to be asking me for help, they are what I can better help with.

If it is someone who I will not have to interact with in the future... someone who will not likely be asking me for help... and they want a desktop distro... I do sometimes recommend Ubuntu. There are actually a few different distros I recommend depending on the desired criteria laid out by the asker. So, just because I prefer Red Hat / CentOS and Fedora doesn't mean that I think they are the best solution in all situations.

There is a large diversity in Linux and the reason for it is to match the large diversity in hardware and software use cases. While some see the large number of Linux distros as a bad thing, I generally see it as a good thing.

About Canonical

The subject of this post was a hint about what I think and feel about Canonical. Remember that old Doobie Brothers song? I'm not sure about the exact title of it but I think it is, "Jesus is Just All Right with Me." That's how I feel about Canonical and Ubuntu. I do feel compelled to mention that Canonical has not yet seemed to find a way to become profitable and the vast majority of the steps they seem to have taken lately (UbuntuOne, etc) seem to be moving toward proprietary software rather than keeping with the principles of FOSS. Hey, even Red Hat made some mistakes along the way so I think I'll cut Canonical a break.

Will Canonical be successful? I don't know. While I would prefer them to be more of a pure, free software company like Red Hat, that doesn't mean that there is only one way to do things... and I do acknowledge that Canonical does contributed a lot to the Linux ecosystem.

I should also note that while Canonical is the primary sponsor of Ubuntu, Ubuntu and the community that has sprung up around it are not necessarily dependent on Canonical's success. I like to think that if Red Hat went up in flames that Fedora would continue and that's how I feel about Ubuntu as well.

What says you?

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Great post, Scott

Hey, Scott -- Great post and interesting "first domino" in what I hope will be some discussion in getting Ubuntu -- not to mention other distros -- involve in the FOSS realm in Montana.

I thought originally that Greg DeKoenigsberg made an excellent point in his original blog post, even though his delivery may have left a lot to be desired. I even blogged about it myself, as well as responding to Mark Shuttleworth's ad hominem reply to my original blog post. However, I think Greg says it best in his blog "Old Wounds":

"It is my very strong, honest, and believe it or not, largely impartial opinion, that after five-plus years of building a global brand on top of the GNOME platform, Canonical should be doing way more to sustain that platform. And although I understand and agree with the arguments that Canonical contributes in many important ways, I contend that it still isn’t nearly enough. Not if you want to claim the mantle of leadership. You cannot simply talk the talk; you must ultimately walk the walk."

You also make a good point about what would happen if Red Hat immediately disappeared tomorrow: The Fedora Project would continue. I am sure the same thing would happen to Ubuntu if Canonical disappeared. Both are a testament of the FOSS system's strengths.

Keep up the great work, Scott.

Larry Cafiero
Larry the Free Software Guy

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