Follow-up post to Canonical Microsoft

Oh dear.

It seems as though I completely failed to make the point I was trying to make. Sorry.

With the question “Is Canonical becoming the new Microsoft?”, I was trying to ask if the overall level of “bad-karma” that is being directed toward Ubuntu/Canonical was potentially making it into the next entity that the world loves to hate? I wasn’t (as I did actually try to say) interested in the individual issues I listed, but the cumulative level of criticism which, as we all know, Microsoft gets in spades; even though they still manage to sell $20bn of crap software in a quarter.

Nor was I trying to ascertain if Canonical were becoming a global monopoly or an evil empire lead by a sad fat bastard called Steve. I really was just interested in the increasing level of criticism and if there is any likely parallel with firms like Microsoft who are successful (on a financial level at any rate) and yet are hated around the globe by almost everyone I ever speak to.

On a secondary note though, the overall quality of comments was great! The vast majority were well considered and articulated and didn’t turn me into a quivering wreck nor require me to don asbestos pants. Thanks!

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  • Chris Puttick says:

    I thought I saw your point; maybe Canonical are in danger of becoming something like the MS that MS wants to claim it is: well intentioned, but ultimately misguided and as a result misunderstood. I can tell you they don’t talk to their customers, which might be because they have no influence over their core “product” i.e. Ubuntu, and therefore when their customers say “we need this”, “we don’t want that”, they have no positive response to give; so instead they just don’t talk…

    But in the end, the community is making the (bad) decisions. For as long as Kubuntu doesn’t install mono by default, I’ll keep using it; well, unless they don’t fix my bugs in the next version :)

  • David Gerard says:

    I’m more worried they’ll turn into the next Xandros myself – make themselves irrelevant. But, in the meantime, we’ll be without a quality desktop distro for a year or so. ‘Cos 9.10 is really very good.

  • Greg says:

    You forgot one on your ‘Canonical Microsoft’ list, the Canonical Contributor Agreement.

  • r_a_trip says:

    I don’t think that the decisions Canonical is making right now are with evil intent. They are a business and they’ve pushed Ubuntu forward at a loss floating on the gracious gift from Mark Shuttleworth. They have given the FLOSS community a marvelous gift by pushing FLOSS into the public view.

    The problem I see is that the current course is making Ubuntu more and more dependent on Microsoft. Yahoo is Bing, so any dollar from that is indirectly flowing from MS. I don’t think it is wise to be dependent on MS for revenue when you are a competitor. Plus MS is trying to use Bing as a means to destroy Google.

    Mono is a Microsoft tool. The legal area seems to be pretty safe with all the promises made by MS. The problem with Mono is that MS is using it to entrench their own programming paradigms and they use it to try and proprietarize the internet through Silverlight/Moonlight. Adobe flash is just as bad, but at least Adobe doesn’t have an OS and a penchant to try and lock everybody in to it. Since Mono is doomed to always be a subset of .NET, it is easy for MS to pull less convinced FLOSS programmers over to the Windows side (Hey look, we have a complete stack!) than it is for the Mono camp to attract cutting edge .NET programmers.

    Ubuntu is increasingly dropping the stalwart applications and trying to replace them with Mono equivalents. They make the claim that it saves space on the live CD. The way I see it, if you drop the Mono stack you have a lot of space free again. I see F-spot, Banshee, Tomboy, Gnome-Do and Beagle as a solution seeking a problem. For every application in the Mono portfolio we have ample native applications. Pushing Mono is diminishing the native market and therefore the incentive to develop the native applications.

    I started mucking about with x86 PC’s in the mid nineties (late to the party). In the time between then and now, I’ve seen ample evidence that MS is a company not to be dealt with. MS has left a huge trail of wrecked companies, they are not shy of breaking the law, they only care about the holy dollar and they certainly don’t regard their customers king. At every turn they try and erect an MS tollbooth, even on tech they don’t own or invented. Every dealing a competitor has with MS is bound to end up hurting that competitor and eventually the end user.

    I have nothing against Ubuntu or Canonical per sé, but their exterior is starting to glitter with a silverish light. It reminds me too much of MS. Since I don’t care for MS and it’s machinations, I certainly don’t care for distributions daring (foolishly) to flirt with MS. It’s why I’ve voted with my feet. Fedora 12 is an excellent distribution. I wish Canonical all the best, but for me it is: “So long, and thanks for all the fish”.

    • Jose_X says:

      >> The legal area seems to be pretty safe with all the promises made by MS.

      No on two counts best I can tell.

      First, the promises say nothing about attacks from patent trolls (or anyone else) to whom Microsoft has sold patents. In particular, there are two major patent troll companies founded by former top Microsoft execs (Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold).

      Second, giving away patents on the “base invention” leads to patent traps on extension patents. Eg, it might be OK to use core mono API as far as Microsoft goes (let’s assume), but if you use it (this core dotnet API) to create a music app with bookmarks, this product can easily fall under a hypothetical patent that would not be part of the set of patents under license. Ie, while “mono” might be safe, a music app with bookmark capabilities built using various core mono API/functionality would not be. The patent system is very broken and this is particularly true for software.

      Also note that mono lags MSdotnet by a lot. This gives Microsoft ample room to encourage the growth of mono into areas that they have already covered fairly thoroughly with patents. I call this a patent extension trap (giving away the core as “safe” with full intention to cover with patents as many uses of that core as possible), and Microsoft is not the only one that likely leverages this broken “feature” of the patent system (although they are likely the most aggressive and dangerous patent holder as concerns Linux and/or FOSS in general).

  • benq says:

    I think you missed one point: Ubuntu can not be on everybodys most-hated-list (like MS) for the simple fact that most people that would qualify as Ubuntu-haters use Linux. Not that Linux-Users are more tolerant than others, they are simply outnumbered by people that do not know anything about Linux at all. So currently Ubuntu can count on a mere 1% of Computer-Users that may or may not hate them.

    Second point is, no Ubuntu will NEVER be hated like MS. For the simple reason, that there are dozens of fully compatible alternatives. You can not just turn your back on MS if your’re an average Computer-User (if you do, you’re in for a phase of adaptation, frustration, leaving habits behind, throwing some pieces of hardware away (was crapware anyways …;-), and you end up NOT doing all the nifty things with your gadgets that come with MS software-addons (OVi-suite under WINE anyone?). If you made the switch to Linux, why should you go crazy over some decisions of Ubuntu? Take Mandriva, openSUSE, Debian, sidux, MEPIS, Fedora … why should any Linux-user waste time hating an entity that he/she can so easily avoid?

    So, if you’re unhappy with Ubuntu/Canonical business/software selection choices, why don’t you simply post it like that?

  • LinuxLover says:

    They went and tried to corner the market. That’s the problem. Their aggressiveness and very proprietary-like behavior (not sending fixes upstream, for instance), not to mention the fact that they are a deriviative distro, relying on another distro for much of the work, yet they bask in the glory of it all. There are distros out there doing a whole lot for the Linux community, such as Fedora, OpenSuse, and to a lesser degree Mandriva, but Ubuntu – a distro that’s basically a “spin” distro off of Debian – garners much of the limelight. Then, the owner has the audacity to criticize those doing the work! He points the finger at both Gnome and KDE, complaining about the Linux desktop, and complains about UI problems in much of FOSS, yet not only does he get a free ride with the freely distributable software, he doesn’t actually fund much work on fixing the very problems he complains about. Companies like Red Hat and Novell pour ungodly amounts of money into FOSS. Canonnical, and Mark Shuttleworth by extension, does not.

    Then, there is the hypnotized… They are just as bad as the Microsoft loyalists. One bad word about Ubuntu and you’re trounced upon. I mean, get real people… It’s only one distro of many, and none of them are perfect by any means.

    Ubuntu is an okay distro. Not a great distro, but certainly a solid one. I’m not going to take away from it at all. However, Ubuntu, Canonnical, the community, and Mark Shuttleworth deserve all the bashing they’re getting.

    • jeg says:

      I agree 100% with LinuxLover on his assessments of Ubuntu, the Ubuntu community, Canonical, and Shuttleworth. Canonical have not only taken much, much more than they’ve ever given back, but then have to audacity to pretend that Canonical and the Ubuntu devs are primarily responsible for all the advances in Linux that make Ubuntu most of what it is. Not only does Canonical just take all the work that Debian devs do, Canonical doesn’t even properly acknowledge that. Ubuntu is indeed a “spin” of Debian Unstable, masquerading as an independent distro. But even worse than that, in their failure to steal away enough Debian devs to fix the broken, regression-plagued mess that Canonical makes of Debian Unstable, Canonical has been trying to mess with the Debian project itself in order to solely benefit Ubuntu. For example, Canonical has tried to jettison Debian’s long-proven-to-work release philsophy (which has made Debian one of the most successful, long-lasting distros ever) in order to follow a rushed 6 month release schedule that coincides with Ubuntu’s release schedule. Canonical is not only ruining its own reputation with spotty releases, but now they want to ruin Debian the same way. Canonical needs to take their poor fork of Debian, and “fork off”. They’ve been riding those coat tails way too long now, taking all the credit for Debian work, and it’s more than time for the Linux community to say “either put up, or shut up”. If Canonical can’t make an independent distro from upstream sources, like Redhat, Suse, Mandriva, Debian, Arch, Gentoo, and so many others do, then Canonical doesn’t deserve the business, mindshare, or anything else that they’re trying to pilfer from much more productive entities.

      • antonovich says:

        Argh! Another hopeless “we wrote the code” fanboy. Did Debian write most of the apps they are distributing? No, of course not, they are a distribution mechanism. How many lines of code are contributed to the kernel, or apache, or by the Debian foundation? F-all (probably not nothing but that’s not the point).
        What Ubuntu is about is POPULARISING Linux. Were the Stallman-like types good at that there would be no need for Ubuntu, and it wouldn’t exist. So they make themselves out to be saviours. So what? If I can get both my mum and dad not only to be happy with Ubuntu, but to brag about it to their friends, then can you seriously tell me Ubuntu hasn’t done a HUGE service for GNU/Linux?
        All of you take a pill and calm down.
        So enough of the anti-anti-Ubuntu talk, let’s get down to the Ubuntu bashing :-).
        I spend 15% of my day working with .net platform bugs, or trying to code around them. Mono (why don’t people get the pun and realise it’s only for monkeys?), is de Icasa’s poison pill for Open Source. MS are using him, and Novell to prepare massive patent cases. There are NO non-infringement guarantees. So while the tech is not so shabby, and Redhat/Oracle/Google should be doing more to make devs go their way, mono is truly a trojan horse waiting to happen. MS tolerates mono because it helps kill java and flash. If they even scent that they start getting ascendancy then the lawyers will be let out of their kennels.
        And on the matter of Canonical using Bing instead of Google… If MS (via proxy Yahoo!) gives them a lot of money, then it may not be all bad. Unless they have signed a 10-year exclusive agreement, then nothing is stopping Ubuntu from issuing an update back to google. And if Ubuntu continues to convert young and old (with help) alike, then Google may well realise that a healthy community of all-comers is worth paying for.
        My 0.02€ worth (though current inflation puts the value at 0.56€)
        ps. The mono session at the 8-10 feb Paris Microsoft TechDays was cancelled!

        • jeg says:

          No, Debian didn’t write the upstream code. But Debian has been doing something for more years than most other distros — something that Canonical has been completely unable to do after several years — and that’s package upstream code into a distribution. Canonical has been riding on the coattails of Debian Unstable for years, without properly acknowledging who really does the heavy lifting at making Ubuntu. That would be Debian devs. As for how much Debian has contributed to the Linux kernel: It’s a lot more than Canonical, according to Greg H, the guy who actually oversees the coordination of those contributions. You really should inform yourself of these facts.

          It’s not Canonical, nor Ubuntu, that has made Linux suitable for your mom and dad. It’s companies like RedHat, Novell, Mandriva, IBM, Intel, individual contributers not associated with Ubuntu, and yes, the Debian project, all of whom have contributed more than Canonical has, and ever will. Have you even tried Debian SID? Obviously, you’re one of those Ubuntu fanbois who believes that Gnome is some sort of proprietary UI that ships only with Ubuntu, and that the thousands of packages (taken from Debian repositories) in Ubuntu, are actually Canonical software. Every Ubuntu release is a (broken) “respin” of Debian Unstable. Typical Ubuntu fanboi. They know nothing about Linux. All an Ubuntu user is, is an ex-Windows users who just recently learned that Microsoft didn’t invent everything about computers and software. (And it sounds like that’s all your mom and dad know too. Of course, they’re Ubuntu users).

        • Jose_X says:

          >> ps. The mono session at the 8-10 feb Paris Microsoft TechDays was cancelled!

          The one-way street.

          I don’t follow dotnet events, but this sounds like another example of Microsoft wanting inferior and lagging mono to bring people into MSdotnet but not wanting a single MSdotnet user to get ideas about moving over to mono.

          It’s a very biased playing field because the (a) Microsoft lead time, (b) Microsoft patent threats, (c) Microsoft trade secrets (closed source), and (d) Microsoft superior marketing and ecosystem make it very likely mono effectively becomes an entry-point into MSdotnet for the “FOSS curious or even die-hards” rather than an exit point by those same groups.

          • Jose_X says:


            >> I spend 15% of my day working with .net platform bugs, or trying to code around them.

            [Make sure to read the MS quotes below. It's about embracing, extending, and extinguishing.]

            Concerning closed source MSdotnet bugs, this is an example of one type of tie into MSdotnet that Microsoft counts on in order to thwart competition and to retain customers. This makes MSdotnet code unlikely to ported to mono by the app’s creators except by undoing a lot of invested work [see quotes below]. These convenience bugs on Microsoft’s part make interoperability very difficult (ask the wine project and samba). It’s this reason (and patents to a lesser extent) traditionally why Microsoft publishes their API but doesn’t reveal source code. They want people to make huge time, code, and mental investments in their proprietary platforms.

            Another related major issue with closed source code is that there are associations and ties between Microsoft platforms and Microsoft apps that give Microsoft advantages not afforded to any other app competitor. These are unpublished integration API.

            Additionally, Microsoft can manhandle or frustrate third party app competitors on their platform more directly…

            MS app developers can use internal development tools to avoid problems with public-facing MS platform “bugs” that third party app makers have to deal with, including unstable bugs (bugs that change around on you in their behavior or which are very unpredictable).

            Microsoft can put in malfunctions and instabilities into public interfaces others can’t analyze properly, especially since these can be inserted on an auto/transparent update and even self-delete themselves or mutate. [Malware is sometimes an example of an external triggering mechanism of these accidental (or not) traps. Malware can't do anything Microsoft did not already enable.]

            Of course, these last few examples have nothing to do with mono directly but help explain Microsoft advantages on Windows and is why the Windows monopoly is so valuable to Microsoft. Without a strong monopoly, Microsoft would lose their ability to pull off these tricks so readily, and these tricks give Microsoft quite an advantage.

            An example: if FOSS apps are going to exist, they want it to exist over Windows.

            Things like mono are important to neutralizing competition to their *platforms* or at worst case allowing Microsoft to more easily embrace and themselves leverage such a competing platform because of similarities to its own.

            Let’s hear what Microsoft themselves have said on these matters years ago:


            “Embrace means we are compatible with what’s out there, so you can switch to our platform without a lot of obstacles and rework.”

            “Extend means we provide tremendous value that nobody else does, so (A) you really want to switch to our software, and (B) once you try our software you would never want to go back to some inferior junk from our competitors.”

            “If we fail to embrace, we can lose because there are big barriers to buying our products. But if we Fail to extend, or do only humble work that is easy to clone or to surpass, we automatically lose because our competitors will spend literally billions of dollars to clone our work and replace us.”

            Adding “tremendous value” includes “bugs”.

            Embracing and extending is made easier if other platforms try to be dotnet clones from the get go.

            [And I we haven't even gotten to patents!]

            “[Considering Windows API,] You could argue that the API is too hard to use, that not every library is as fast as it should be, or other serious imperfections, but the fact remains: if you took away Windows, that application would no longer work.”

            “The Windows API is so broad, so deep, and so functional that most ISVs would be crazy not to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cast to using a different operating system instead.”

            “It is this switching cost that has given customers the patience to stick with Windows through all our mistakes, our buggy drivers, our high TCO, our lack of a sexy vision at times, and many other difficulties.”

            “People have tried to clone Windows, but it is just too hard to do well. Customers constantly evaluate other desktop platforms, bit it would be so much work to move over that they hope we just improve Windows rather than force them to move.”

            Why is Microsoft so ambitious?

            “The second [approach we could take to Java competition] is to join the parade of people who are saying “let’s kill Microsoft and share their market among us” – good for everyone else, but reducing us to the much smaller role of a common software company like Lotus or Borland or even Symantec. Thats a great way to make all our stock options worth zero, even If we would not technically be out of business.”

            Microsoft does stand out because they are perched very high and have no intention of executing deals where they lose altitude.

            Canonical can pick other “friends” that are not as poisonous to Linux or to FOSS as is Microsoft if they want “freedom-loving” users and contributors to stay nearby.

            One last Microsoft quote (by Steve Ballmer), straight off their website :

            “STEVE BALLMER: Well, okay. There’s a few questions. Number one, are our products likely to be open sourced? No. We do provide our source code in special situations, but open source also implies free, free is inconsistent with paying for lunches at the partner conference. (Applause.) With that said, there are a number of different things. Will we interoperate with products that come from like Linux, from the open source world? Yes, we will. Will we encourage people who want to do open source development to do it on top of Windows? Yes, we’re proud that the best PHP system in the world is actually the one that runs on Windows today, not the one that runs on Linux. So we’re going to encourage open source innovation on our platforms, and around our platforms. And, you know, we see interesting things where bits and pieces of technology, commercial companies are now starting to provide it in an open source form or to digest in an open source form. And we’re open to that as well. But our fundamental business model will remain kind of commercial software, advertising, enterprise licensing, et cetera.”

            As an aside, I don’t think the best PHP runs on Windows (I don’t know, actually), but it might. If it does, that would be bad for FOSS and for Linux, as PHP (and Apache etc) could help move server share to Windows. Then Microsoft eliminates PHP and every other FOSS or at least marginalizes it. PHP and others have power as long as they can leverage threats from competing server platforms.

  • carl says:

    I don’t use Tomboy or Fspot. I removed Tomboy and Fspot and the mono stuff. I’m trying Solang right now. I installed Gnote but am not using it though I might. I installed the multimedia codes. Wireless stuff so my Acer Aspire One D250 would work.

    IMO wireless needs to work out of the box with install instead of Ethernet and getting. Flash etc is easy enough once you have wireless.

    I don’t like the mono stuff. I’ve read the goal is to replace Totem, FSpot etc with Banshee. I left Windows because I was using Firefox, OpenOffice, Gimp, Audacity. I had been using Windows since 3.1. I kept upgrading till I brought a 12 Inch G4 Powerbook. Later I installed various Linux distributions on it. In Dec I brought the Acer Aspire One D250. It had the crippled Windows Starter Edition. I didn’t like UNR or Moblin. I installed Ubuntu. Fspot and Tomboy were removed and all the other mono stuff. Pidgin was installed next. Next I installed most of the Ubuntu Studio applications. After that, Thunderbird, Sunbird.

    I don’t understand why Photoshop is being used instead of Gimp for themes for Ubuntu. IMO Gimp etc should be used! Why ask the questions about Itunes and Photoshop when Apple and Adobe could have easily made debs for them if they wanted! Instead the focus should be on Gimp instead of Photoshop. I really love that Inkscape was being showed at a school even though it was a Windows version.The same could be done with other software.

    Now my brother never had a computer. The kids 11 and 9 had used Windows in school. They got a netbook and I installed Ubuntu on it. The kids wanted youtube etc so of course flash etc was installed. My brother is a Pastor so I installed OpenOffice for him. I also installed other Bible related software. I installed Pidgin. Games etc were also installed. The whole family was happy.

    Now my last comment. I hated the person who made “Chicken”. If people don’t want mono they should not be mocked. It should be easier to remove mono also if you don’t want it on your system.

  • LiamWilson says:

    I don’t think Canonical is turning into Microsoft in terms of Love/Hate. Microsoft more-or less force windows upon you, whereas with ubuntu, you more-or less take the choice to use it. Yes, it may be the most popular Linux there is, but that’s not to say that we don’t have a choice to install Mepis, Slackware, or Fedora, for example, do we?

    Yes, I admit, some of the decisions being made by the powers that be are somewhat concerning, but I suppose Canonical needs money to survive, and provide us with an excellent Ubuntu experience. So long as they don’t do any _DIRECT_ deals with Microsoft (Novell, anyone?), I’m happy.

  • ajlec2000 says:

    You didn’t fail. At least not completely, as I got your point. I share your concern as well. All the critism lately misses one point. Regardless of Mono, dropping major opensource software or the continued use of the color brown Ubuntu has been instrumental in introducing MS users to the viable alternative of Linux. I’ll be using Ubuntu for many years to come regardless of the changes.

  • timnwells says:

    Does anyone actually want Ubuntu, or any of the Linux distro’s to become a competitor to MS?

    • jeg says:

      There are Linux distros that compete with MS. And a number of them are better than Ubuntu, for example the one I use: Debian Testing. Debian is the distro that Ubuntu steals the vast majority of its packages from, because unlike Redhat, Suse, Mandriva, Debian, Arch, Gentoo, and many other distros, Canonical doesn’t have the talent and skill to make its own distro from those same upstream sources as the others do. The only “talent” Canonical has is taking credit for the work of others, telling the people who are doing the real work what those people should be doing, and hyping others’ work as “linux for human beings” at the same time that they wreck that work with poorly implemented hacks (like Upstart) that cause regressions and break Debian packages.

      But the typical Ubuntu fanboi doesn’t tell his mom and dad this when he replaces their Windows OS with Ubuntu. So now, instead of mom and dad telling everyone that Windows is the only software in existence and MS invented computers, now mom and dad can tell everyone that there’s one other OS called Ubuntu (which of course is Linux itself), and Canonical makes all that wonderful stuff like the Gnome desktop, Linux, Open Office, Gimp, etc, for free. This is progress???

      • timnwells says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of Linux as not able to compete. I personally use Linux (currently Fedora) almost exclusively, with the exception of gaming. I believe that there is some shortcomings inherent to the open source development models etc that cause commercial software companies to consider developing their software to run on Linux to much of a risk. Without the support of commercial software companies Linux won’t really be on-par with Windows in the eyes of most users.

        A lot of my friends are iTunes junkies, no iTunes app for Linux, the company I work for uses MYOB Accounting software which doesn’t run on Linux, MS have a Mac version of Office but none for Linux.

        It seems to me that despite all the crap from MS about working with other OS’s etc, they and their friends
        at Apple seem quite happy to scratch each others backs but anything else is just trash to be ignored. It seems to me that going to the effort of converting a windows app to Mac but not Linux is a deliberate choice to not support them.

        How many people, perhaps not you or me, but office staff, managers etc would use Linux to save a buck if they could still run MS Word, Outlook, iTunes etc, because the OS doesn’t matter to the majority, its the apps they use.

        Also if a Linux of any kind was to be on par with MS in terms of market share and popularity, it would also then become much more of a target to people who are messed up enough to create viruses, malware etc.

        • iTunes is only a problem if you have made the mistaken of buying your music locked; the rest is only a mindshare problem – how many people would use Linux if they had already realised that better and/or lower-cost solutions to email/collaboration exist than those from Microsoft? MS Word is not better than OpenOffice Writer or others, Outlook is not better than Zimbra or others.

          Sure, Microsoft are not going to make versions of their software for Linux, because they live or die as a company with Windows sales; every other supplier will pretty damn quick make software for Linux if one big customer tells them to.

          • timnwells says:

            So when my friends ask what it is i’m using on my computer and how they get it, the only option I have is to say “wont work for you, you use iTunes, stick to Windows or Mac”.

            Nice way to prove Linux is competitive, the sad thing is that the same statement rings true for most people who aren’t already in the Linux space as they have purchased iPods/iPhones and thousands of dollars worth of music from iTunes.

            A lot of people hate change, and if they have been using Outlook for all their life and you try and give them something different they can’t handle it. Its not about whats better or not. Especially bad are the people that think they are good with computers, because they can use office and internet explorer. These people when presented with something completely different like Linux will hate it and badmouth it forever because it shows them they aren’t good at computers but they can’t admit it to themselves.

            As for MS not making their software for Linux because they live by the sales of Windows… wtf did they build a Mac version for? The argument seems pretty weak when MS are already building some of their better software to be available on a competitive OS. They just for some reason won’t extend the same level of professionalism to the Linux community.

            It may be that both Windows and Mac have stable always the same across releases environments so it is safe to build for, whereas with Linux every distro is slightly different enough to make it a complicated build/test/deploy path that most commercial software companies wont risk doing. So one of the biggest strengths that Linux has (the choice of distro) is also its greatest hindrance in actually becoming a product that the everyday user community can comfortably use.

            You, me and probably everyone here is already in the Linux space and know that its better, it is still an elitist group because of the issues that the average person faces if they wanted to migrate to Linux. It just seems hard for us in the Linux group already to see it from the outside.

          • r_a_trip says:


            As for MS not making their software for Linux because they live by the sales of Windows… wtf did they build a Mac version for? The argument seems pretty weak when MS are already building some of their better software to be available on a competitive OS.

            What makes you think OS X is competitive to Windows? Apple was bailed out by MS in the mid nineties. Apple needed the money, MS needed the appearance of a competitor. Ever since they respect each others market boundaries.

            OS X is not comparable to Windows. OS X is practically a firmware to operate overpriced Apple hardware. Windows runs anywhere, where there is an x86 processor. OS X only runs on a machine manufactured by Apple. It’s not a threat to MS OEM deals.

            To MS OS X brings the semblance of choice and they most probably will still sell an Office license to a Mac user. Since Apple sells expensive lifestyle with a mediocre x86 PC thrown in somewhere in the innards, they are in a niche where they don’t tread on MS toes.

            Linux on the other hand moves in exactly the same markets as MS. Linux has the potential to destroy MS OEM deals. That is why we have a Mac Office, but absolutely no native MS software for Linux. Linux is a threat to MS shelfspace.

            Let me illustrate. Let’s walk in a computer shop. There are three computers on the shelf. One is a $ 650 midrange PC with Windows 7 Home Premium, the second is a comparable Mac for $ 1200, the third is the same midrange PC with Linux for $ 599. Tell me, which one is the biggest threat to the MS machine? The Apple or the Linux machine?

          • timnwells says:


            I see your point and I think it is valid. I think MS is threatened by Linux, and I think they have reason.

            I do still believe that the main reasons (however misguided) for a majority of people not using Linux as a desktop OS are:

            1. The business users are so used to MS Office and Outlook that changing to something else is confusing, not to mention that having to remember to save the OpenOffice doc as an MS Word doc before emailing it, etc.

            2. The iPod/iPhone etc user who now can’t live without iTunes, how on earth will they buy music and sync/update their device… or the die hard Blu-ray watchers who can’t legally play a blu-ray using open source software.

            3. The die hard gamers who are always playing the latest games… yes I know there are some quite good Linux games, but when their peers are all talking about how cool the latest Mass Effect or something is and all they have to say is they have been playing Nexuiz, it seems to lack something to a serious gamer.

            Without addressing these things in a mainstream sort of way I don’t think Linux will ever really actually be any more than an annoyance to MS.

            Solutions :

            1. By no means a full solution, but some ideas. Since we can’t force Office to support OO docs, then OO needs a setting allowing the default document format to be MS Word so new users don’t have to worry about converting, and the interface should have the option of having the same look and feel for maximum user comfort.

            2. Convince Mac to give specs / allow open source software to connect to the iTunes stores and sync/update the iPods/iPhones…. not gonna happen as I understand. Seems the only alternative and it would be surrounded with legal and moral issues, but that would be to hack the iTunes protocols and pirate the connections, and crack the encryptions etc put in place around blu-ray movies… doesn’t really seem viable without people being jailed etc etc

            3. Somehow convince all the game creators to ditch the easy DirectX MS road and focus on pure cross platform OpenGL games. Since most gaming consoles use OpenGL you would think this wouldn’t be that much of an effort since almost any game released for PC is also released for all game consoles… but try it, I have. Why would the game developers change when there is almost no market share reason for them too.. Not to mention the added risks of commercial software development for Linux.

            I’m not saying there isn’t hope… but it seems to me without a Linux becoming an entity like that of MS windows its going to be a rough road.

          • r_a_trip says:

            I’m not saying there isn’t hope… but it seems to me without a Linux becoming an entity like that of MS windows its going to be a rough road.

            “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” — Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

            At what cost are we willing to “defeat” MS as the incumbent behemoth? Is becoming the restrictive thing that FOSS is trying to make irrelevant, really the price we are willing to pay to reach those who couldn’t care less, even after being educated as to the why of it?

            OOo can save in MS formats per default, if one so chooses. I think a short instruction is better than just accept to save per default in a closed, undocumented (or badly documented in case of OOXML) format. Tools –> Options –> Load/Save –> General –> Always save as. ODF is a truly open and accepted international standard. .doc/.xls/.ppt and OOXML are MS ways of stifling data interchange. Project Renaisance will provide OOo with the much vaunted Ribbon. In my opinion just a different way of presenting options, not necessarily a beter one.

            “I want to continue to restrict myself with iTunes!” I think in this case it shouldn’t be FOSS trying to accomodate that wish. The tools to do so are already there in the form of OS X and Windows. We can only point out that there are less restricted (and qualitatively better) players on the market and welcome to you once you choose to leave iPod/iTunes behind.

            Same with gaming. It is the PC gaming community who chose to use only DirectX games. They made their bed and have to lie in it. The PC gaming community could reverse this trend within a year if they really wanted to. Just stop buying DirectX games and ask every game publisher on earth to bring out OpenGL X-platform titles. Of course it is not going to happen. Gamers want effortless entertainment and going with the status quo gives them that. Lobbying for X-platform games is too involved.

            Not to mention the added risks of commercial software development for Linux.

            What added risk? No more risky than developing for Mac. The MS realm is also not risk free. Building a business is risky, no matter what platform.

            I used to be the kind of Linux zealot who wanted everybody on Linux. These days I’ve mellowed considerably. If someone cares about what usages terms are on his day to day computing, he will convert to Linux by himself. If not, why save people from the proprietary clutches against their will.

            We need to market Linux, but not in terms of what other OSes can do. We need to clearly state what Linux is, what it can do and why we think it should be used as a day to day OS. Marketing it as a worse-than-Windows Windows replacement is not going to cut it.

      • voksic says:

        I do not work for Microsoft, Canonical or any other company; I have my own. As for Ubuntu community not giving back to Debian or upstream. That’s just a lie. There are numerous areas (even on server side!) where Ubuntu community took upstream’s code, tested it and even fixed it (providing patches). There are areas where Ubuntu took the lead and was first distro to implement something. There are parts of those areas where Debian took packages and provided them to their users (mostly unchanged). There are also numerous patches in Debian’s packages that came from Ubuntu community. There are teams of people from Debian and Ubuntu working on the packages for *Debian*, so that Ubuntu could just merge them, reducing the diff. You don’t notice those cause there’s no ‘Provided by Ubuntu’ in changelogs, but ‘provided by Name LastName’. This is opposite to what Ubuntu puts in changlogs ‘Merged from Debian, remaining changes’.

        And all of this is fine, cause that’s Open Source. We share, we don’t complain cause someone’s 3rd leg is longer. We work together. Those that bitch a lot mostly don’t do anything anyway.

  • voksic says:

    Oh yeah, and about Canonical’s ‘talent’… Last time I checked people that work on Debian’s installer and lots of other *core* packages work for, um…, Canonical.

  • Eddie Wilson says:

    “With the question “Is Canonical becoming the new Microsoft?”, I was trying to ask if the overall level of “bad-karma” that is being directed toward Ubuntu/Canonical was potentially making it into the next entity that the world loves to hate?

    I really was just interested in the increasing level of criticism and if there is any likely parallel with firms like Microsoft who are successful (on a financial level at any rate) and yet are hated around the globe by almost everyone I ever speak to.”

    The answers to those questions are probably yes to an extent. People have to have something to hate. Everybody hates MS so where’s the fun in that. Ubuntu had financial backing and the distro seem to come out of nowhere when it first started up. An easy to use linux desktop os was something that really upset a lot of people. The hard core linux users did not want that. I’ve even been told that if everybody started using linux it would become just as bad as Windows. Those kind of people have a few screws loose and some screws even missing. The great thing about hating something is that you don’t have to use any real logic. Take the MONO bashing foolishness. People have offered no proof of how MONO could destory linux. They may post a link or two of totally useless crap but as far as facts goes they have none. Even RMS has a hard time dissing MONO. Since I never hear anyone else complaining about other disrtos, Ubuntu must be the only distro that has MONO. WOW that’s really amazing. If the haters succeed in destroying another open source project I’m sure it will be a great enhancement for the open source community. I’ve dealt with the open source community for over 6 years now and what is really amazing to me is that such great software can come from people who are so closed minded and paranoid.

    All in all I do see the point you are trying to make. It’s a sad statement for the open source community.

  • Ravindu says:

    Here I think most comments flow from who use OpenSuse(Novell Product),Fedora(RedHat producr).Coz they hate Ubuntu popularity.Ubuntu make the way that Linux is something to worth trying.As I’m in third world country so it is very pleasing approach that of ShipIt project,Yet all those gold diggers like Novell Or RedHat never use a penny to make Linux competitive with MS OS in desktop OS arena.They use those distros as try outs of theirs commercial packages.
    They think, they have fight with Ubuntu not with MS.

    I do agree canonical should drop mono dependency.

  • [...] the 10th of February I updated my original “Is Canonical becoming the new Microsoft?” post to make it clearer that [...]

  • Daniel h says:

    To trust Microsoft is to close your eyes, hold your ears and completely erase 20 years of blatant abuse of their monopoly powers.

    Ubuntu is a direct threat to Microsofts business model, selling a pretty old and grumpy OS for prime money when it really should have utility prices by now. What do Microsoft do with companies that threat their income, anyone?

    Mono, Silverlight, Yahoo/Bing are all things that benefit Microsoft more than Ubuntu. Ubuntu should have tossed Mono out and clearly and clearly stated to Microsoft that if they wanted dotnet / silverlight on Linux they had better do it themselves. That way all patent and IP problems would be non-existent.

  • r_a_trip says:

    And in the cases where we have common cause, I am happy to work with Microsoft. That may be a hard concept for people who think that life is easier to understand if you have an enemy to make your own cause right, but I find that attitude leads to bigotry and bad results, and makes it impossible to get past the wrongs of the past. –Mark Shuttleworth

    I think here we have the answer. Canonical isn’t becoming the new Microsoft, they are well underway to become MS next victim.

    The people at Microsoft aren’t evil. On the individual level they will be wonderful people. It’s just they are all locked into a soulless machinery that works in a certain way.

    The problem with MS is their corporate culture. They can’t compete fairly. They are relentlessly predatory. If Shuttleworth thinks he can trust MS the Corporation to operate towards common goals, he is mistaken. MS has only one goal. MS on top, at all costs, raking in the revenue.

    You don’t expect the mafia to be legit. You don’t hire cleptomaniacs to guard your shop. You don’t assume MS will play fair in business.

    It’s why I’ve reluctantly abandonned Ubuntu after six happy years of use. I can’t make my computing freedom dependent on the decissions of naive people, who seem to trust a chronic predator.

    In a way it is painful to see Ubuntu on the tipping point of market acceptance and me having to stop supporting it, not because it is becoming popular, but because it foolishly thinks that dancing with MS isn’t lethal. If I have to choose between mainstreaming Linux and software freedom, it’ll be software freedom.

    • timnwells says:

      If I have to choose between mainstreaming Linux and software freedom, it’ll be software freedom.

      A noble statement and one I also share as I have recently left Ubuntu for Fedora.

      I’ll keep an eye on it however because whilst I agree any attempt to work with MS will result in nothing good, I do believe that large scale acceptance of Linux is dependent on the support of commercial software vendors.

      • r_a_trip says:

        I do believe that large scale acceptance of Linux is dependent on the support of commercial software vendors.

        Oh yes, I agree wholeheartedly. But there is a difference between engaging the software industry at large and building bridges to Microsoft. With MS you just know it is a matter of time before a knife appears in your back.

        Why can’t Canonical engage with Oracle to buff up Java’s desktop potential. Why aren’t they courting Adobe for ports of their creative suites? Why isn’t Canonical working with other major Linux vendors to create an attractive, cross distribution software platform for ISV’s? LSB is nice, but more is always welcome.

        All stuff that could make Linux more attractive, but no. Canonical is mucking about with Mono, a platform frought with uncertainties. They are trying to setup a revenue stream via a Microsoft proxy. Trying to remove posterchild OOo on the single most growing platform, Ubuntu Netbook Environment. Probably all unrelated incidents, but it seems to play in MS favor.

        I’m not against closed source software on Linux. That should be an individual choice. For me, I’d rather not use closed source software. It is too obvious to me that closed source software is just a means to my wallet for the software vendor. As such we see a lot of for profit churn in the proprietary world. A new lick of paint, two new (unnecessary) features, presto! a major new version. Then again, if one is willing to go for a closed, for pay package, then do so. It should be available.

        The various large distributors should work on a way to get a semi stable environment ready for it. Call it Lib- or something and refresh it in three year intervals. Heck, even place it in special Lib- directories. You could have /lib/Lib-2010, /lib/Lib-2013, /lib/Lib2016. Make it easily downloadable/installable and let everybody get the versions they need. Although libc could be one of the major hurdles here.

        • timnwells says:

          Why isn’t Canonical working with other major Linux vendors to create an attractive, cross distribution software platform for ISV’s? LSB is nice, but more is always welcome.

          Exactly, and this is where the risks I mentioned in my other post, until there is a consistent cross distro platform that ISV’s can be sure is the same across many/all distros so their software will function the same on all Linux OS’s then it is always going to be a longer more risky process for ISV’s to build/test/deploy for Linux.

  • Alan Cocks says:

    Nice points Alan, I had also been aware of some increasing adverse comments from the community, though, interestingly, none at all from newcomers eager to escape from Windows.

    I want Canonical to make a profit. I want bug 1 (MS everywhere) to be fixed. I want ethical high ground. I would prefer that Ubuntu called itself a GNU/Linux distro, I am uneasy about mono. I think Freedom is a concept not just a practicality, and I do not think anyone ever got Freedom easily, but it is worth effort to gain, and effort to keep. Ubuntu One is a nice facility, I hope it will be successful, including attracting revenue. And ideally later made open maybe. The groundswell in some hardware towards light hardware including maybe ARM stuff is wide open for Ubuntu and difficult for Windows, and a (limited) strategy move from OO and Gimp defaults makes good sense in those areas, and does not limit anyone.
    The idea that Canonical will be getting money from Yahoo (MS) by default is neat. And anyone who is going to discuss GNU/Linux things is likely to to be avoiding it by choice anyway.

    Mark Shuttleworth has presided over what seems to me like miracles, and I cut him a real lot of slack :-) so Canonical gets my vote and my effort and money too, in this real world, for a long time.

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