Is Canonical Becoming The New Microsoft? [Updated]

[Update: It seems I made my point very badly. Please read this follow-up post where I try to explain what I was asking].

Whoah! Hold on everyone. Let me don my asbestos suit first will you.


Right then. I have been thinking about this post for some time and I think the time is probably right for pressing the old “publish” button.

I am not trying to incite riots or wars in the halls of residence or corridors of power but Canonical/Ubuntu is starting to catch more “bad karma” than is healthy for it IMHO.

  • Let’s start with Mono. Yep. It’s been a prickly thorn for many and the concerns expressed are not going away. There’s no point in raking over the old ground; it is just one of the bad-karma attractants in a growing list.
  • Then we have Ubuntu One. Proprietary, closed, caused much debate and friction when announced and now the possibility of a Windows version too.
  • Next comes dumping GIMP, OOo and other much-loved applications from the default installation of versions of the forthcoming distribution.
  • Then the discussion about what closed/proprietary applications should be made available in the Ubuntu repositories.
  • Then we have the change of the default search engine from Google to Microsoft Yahoo.
  • Then Matt Asay joins as COO which should be, and probably is, good news. Matt is well known, respected and experienced, yet some of his prodigious public commentary tugs at the heartstrings of many a Freedom Fighter.

I don’t really want to comment on the individual points above; the point is that this list is growing…

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’m pretty thick-skinned (I think I will need to be with this post!) so if you think I am barking up the wrong tree, or just plain barking, then say so. But I am noticing increasing criticism and anti-Ubuntu rhetoric which is not just because it is becoming more popular, although that is certainly one factor.

Something is changing and I am not sure it is for the good of Ubuntu or our community.

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  • HumDrum says:

    Well, Microsoft is the new IBM, so Canonical could be the new Microsoft. Question is, who will bw the new Canonical? I’m taking applications.

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

  • Jean says:

    Hi, you made your points very clearly and I do fully agree with you. Thank you for starting this discussion in public, kudos!

  • Tom says:

    The first three reasons are turning a loyal user of ubuntu away from itself, i think its better to hear and act on what our RMS has to say.. just google about the mono saga and you’ll come to know it’s a bomb ticking on the OSS community..

  • […] Se contentant de lister quelque éléments selon lui sujets à caution, c’est un pas que n’a cependant pas hésité à franchir un dénommé Alan Lord sur son blog, dans un court et lapidaire billet intitulé explicitement Is Canonical Becoming The New Microsoft?2. […]

  • Ryan Wdzieczny says:

    Honestly I say its about damn time I can’t really comprehend the ubuntu hate when is the last time any Linux company has had the financial backing to launch such an aggressive marketing campaign and has succeeded in converting a few million people to Linux. How many other Linux’s have been deployed by an OEM?

    • David says:

      It isn’t “hate”, don’t equate highlighting flaws as “hate”, that just shows you aren’t paying attention.

  • Arkadi says:

    Totally agree with – Ryan Wdzieczny,
    Ubuntu do everything that must be done to converting people into Linux users.

  • Brent says:

    So freedom to you means that I must only install what you say I can install in my system? Doesn’t freedom mean I can do whatever I want? Has it ever occurred to you that one of the top things holding Linux back from the mainstream is the zealotry and ridiculousness of the tyranny of your definition of freedom, which isn’t really freedom at all, but just you wanting things to be pure according to your own standard? Freedom in my world would be that I can run whatever application I want, on whatever platform I want, without anybody else being the least bit concerned about what I choose to do. That would be bliss…

    • Jose_X says:

      Linux is about freedom. Uninstall it if you don’t want it.

      Microsoft, in particular, strikes deals with vendors and keeps trade secrets that make it difficult to get Windows applications to run well on Linux without a great amount of work by developers porting the applications to Linux. This is why I chucked Windows: Microsoft keeps interoperability details a trade secret. Microsoft does not value users’ freedom or they would have opened up their source code a long time ago.

      Linux is all open source. Open and transparent. That is what freedom is about. Use it or don’t use it, but you cannot be locked in.

      I don’t like to support companies that don’t believe in freedom, so while it is possible to port software to Windows, I refuse to give my free time to help out Windows and Microsoft. They can go spend their monopoly money paying people to port Linux apps to Windows and supporting Windows protocols so that Windows doesn’t fall too far behind Linux in the upcoming years. I don’t contribute freebies to monopolists.

  • […] am concerned about where Canonical is taking Ubuntu (see this article and the follow-up post and comments for a better discussion than I could hope to give […]

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