Sam Varghese Got It Wrong?

On the 10th of February I updated my original “Is Canonical becoming the new Microsoft?” post to make it clearer that what I was actually asking was about whether the company is becoming the next organisation that we love to hate because of the increasing level of criticism aimed at it and it’s flagship product Ubuntu.

Today, the 15th February, Sam Varghese has written about a conversation iTWire have had with Mark Shuttleworth regarding my original post. Unfortunately not only does he seem to have missed the point of that original post, but he also writes as though I was making an accusation or statement rather than asking a question:

“He was responding to queries from iTWire about a recent blog post that has claimed Canonical is becoming the new Microsoft.”

He goes on to list some of the points I made:

The blog post had listed a number of reasons why the writer thought Ubuntu was allegedly becoming the new Microsoft: the inclusion of Mono as a default; the creation of Ubuntu One, a proprietary software repository; removing the GIMP and other applications from Ubuntu; changing the default search engine to Yahoo!; discussion about what proprietary applications should be included in the Ubuntu repositories; and the appointment of Matt Asay as chief operating officer.

Please, let’s get this straight. I have noteworthy opinions on one or two of the points I mentioned, but that was not the point of the post. They were supposed to be taken as examples of a collection of decisions that are apparently, in various quarters, providing the fuel for an increase of criticism overall.

Personally I really am not bothered about the Gimp being removed (it is easy to install), nor OpenOffice.org from the UNR (I actually install the desktop edition on my netbook anyway), nor am I upset about Ubuntu One; it’s an interesting solution, I use it sometimes myself and I’m sure a Windows version will be most welcome by many around the globe. Neither am I bothered about the Yahoo search thing (If Canonical can get money from Microsoft then that’s just funny IMHO), and I was actually pleased about Matt Asay’s appointment; he will bring a wealth of commercial experience, a good dose of much needed sales & marketing skills to the operation and I’m sure much more besides.

Sam also didn’t mention any of this from my original post:

I really like Ubuntu. I use it everywhere, I help in the Ubuntu-uk irc channel when I can and we [our company] promote Ubuntu to our customers and I [as an individual] to friends and family.

What concerns me is not any particular item in the list above: some I care about, others I do not; as I am sure many of you will do too. It is the increasing volume of criticism and vitriol as a whole. It is getting louder. This, I believe, is indicative of a turning tide that, if we are not careful, will result in Ubuntu losing popularity and more of the FOSS community exercising it’s freedom.

I did not claim Canonical was becoming the new Microsoft. I asked if it might be. I also (admittedly not very clearly on my first pass) was interested in the reasons why Canonical/Ubuntu is getting more criticism directed at it at a time when it is becoming more successful and more important and was hoping to solicit some ideas and opinion as to how we could stop that increasing criticism and prevent what seems to be a fairly common occurrence with big and successful companies; we are even seeing it with Google now. Ubuntu/Canonical is built on very different principles to traditional commercial enterprises, so could we, as the community, come up with any ideas to prevent the “love-to-hate” syndrome?

I don’t read iTWire much. I only noticed this post from Sam as I had a couple of referred clicks to this blog today and was interested in where they were coming from.

Sam, your article paints me with a brush which I do not believe to be fair or accurate.

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5 Comments

  • Alex Combas says:

    As John Stewart would say: “Im not saying your mother’s a whore, I’m just asking: is your mother turning into a whore?” Some people will find getting asked that question to be very insulting, I’m sure you can see why.

    I’ve actually written about the changing Ubuntu in my blog recently on Feb 12th, and a while back on Jan 16th.

    I’m sure that the Microsoft Office team (Microsofts biggest money earner) is happy that Open Office will no longer be installed by default in the most popular Linux distribution, new Linux users who have never heard of Open Office and just want to give something different a try will be more likely than ever to go back to windows.

    Same thing goes with Adobe being glad that Gimp is no longer installed be default.

    And lets not mention that if Yahoo (who is now owned my Microsoft, and uses Bing on the back-end) is willing to pay Ubuntu to use their search engine it must be because they stand to make more money from the deal than they are paying to Ubuntu, so yes Ubuntu makes some money but they are giving their direct competitor (Microsoft) MORE money, not a very bright idea.

  • There is an error in your title – it contains an entirely superfluous question mark.

    (‘Sam Varghese Got It Wrong’ is up there with ‘Dog Bites Man’ in the realm of the non-story. There’s an unofficial club of those who have been magnificently inaccurately attacked by Sam, in fact. We’re thinking of getting t-shirts printed…)

  • Daniel h says:

    Standard Microsoft way of dealing with any and all criticism really. If you have anything to complain about them you’re a Microsoft hater and as such your points are not valid anymore, no matter how relevant or accurate they may be in themselves.

  • [...] Lord complains about Sam Varghese misrepresenting his views: Sam, your article paints me with a brush 22which I [...]

  • Jo Shields says:

    Sam isn’t a journalist, he’s a low-rent blogger trying to emulate the style of The Register – badly.

    However, be careful about criticizing his work, you don’t have long left to apologise before he pulls the racism card on you.

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