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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  • Jens says:

    Dumping Gimp and OOo from the default installation are sane choices imh.

    I’ve used less than 1% of the functionality in Gimp: cropping, scaling and rotating. There are better alternatives to Gimp for these tasks.

    I prefer Google Docs or Abiword to OOo, for the same reason: OOo is to complicated to use for causal user.

    • pookito says:

      I will have to agree with you, it’s been years since the last time I used Gimp, Open Office, I use a lot, since I am going to school, but I do not see the problem if Ubuntu wants to dump it because it is not used as it should. I know that Kubuntu does not include FireFox, but they include a link icon with the distribution. If the user wants to install it, just click the button. I do not see a problem if Ubuntu wants to do that with Gimp and OO.

      • Ramza says:

        I’d have to agree. Personally, I rarely use GIMP and when I had a friend using Ubuntu who was not very good with computers and a windows user, they ended up liking Ubuntu, but GIMP was too complex. While I do use OOo, I can see reason for not including it and we can just install it if we want to use it. Considering the commitment to keep Ubuntu to 1 CD, removing these apps from the default install may be giving canonical the space they need to make a more quality distribution for the average person.

      • MPS says:

        I use both GIMP and OpenOffice a lot. I don’t see that removing OpenOffice and GIMP from the default install is a problem so long as there is an option to install it from CD and online repository. Many netbook users will use Google apps or Zoho and Google Picasa, so it makes perfect sense. The only thing I would say is that Synaptic should have a built-in software guide, and user review and rating system, so new users can find out that OpenOffice and Gimp may be what they need if they are looking for office suite and image editing software.

    • Dann says:

      OOo is too complicated for the casual user? That’s like saying Microsoft Office is too complicated for the average user. In fact, why not just say all office suites are too complicated for the casual user? Let’s all use notepad.

      Ergo I don’t think you know what you are talking about.

      • john says:

        OOo is too complicated for the casual user? That’s like saying Microsoft Office is too complicated for the average user. In fact, why not just say all office suites are too complicated for the casual user? Let’s all use notepad.

        Tho to be fair, in a typical windos installation your only options are MSOffice and notepad. In a sense, MSOffice IS too complicated for the average user. Unfortunately, windows does not have an in-between application like abiword (no, ms wordpad doesn’t cut it). MS has nothing in between because a lightweight word processor would cut into their Office profits.

        So there certainly is some justification for dropping oo.o and making abiword default, which will likely satisfy 96% of users needs.

        • Pax says:

          Hi John,

          Actually Microsoft includes wordpad – their RTF app. It’s a pretty good ‘in-between’ product. I know a lot of home users that prefer this over the other two options mentioned. It’s very fast and does most of the basics.

          I do agree that the Office Products are complicated for many and it’s interesting (from my personal experience), that most of the folks I work with who use Office, do so because they need to practice with it for work or school.

          • john says:

            I had forgotten about about wordpad, but thinking back, I thought wordpad was barely a notch above notepad (granted it has been awhile), while abiword really is an Office-lite.

    • Bobby says:

      What’s complicated about OO. If a person can’t use OO then for sure he is incapable of loging in on a computer which means that such person(s) doesn’t need a computer.
      Ubuntu fanboys will defend anything that Canonical does just like the Microsofties defend Redmond.
      They can even dump Ubuntu for me because I am not a Gnome and thus Ubuntu fan. I only find it to be a shame, what they are making out of Linux.

  • I’ve got a similar draft waiting for publication, too.

    Switching from OOo isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Google Docs is decidedly less free. AbiWord’s got a cloud aspect growing, and I don’t see why that was sidestepped.

    Ubuntu One “requir[ing] that you run Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) or higher” irked me somewhat. I don’t run a purely Ubuntu environment, and the assumption that I do is hardly better than MS’s that everyone only uses Windows.

    Launchpad going OSS was celebrated, rather than taken as the normal process of software development.

    Though, on the other hand, Ubuntu’s never really been the distro to turn to if you’re particularly into your free-as-in-freedom. One of it’s early ‘plus points’ was it being more relaxed than the DFSG.

  • LeRenard says:

    Even if I don’t think Canonical is all about flowers and butterflies, I would like to point out some points are very invalid:

    First, I don’t think the mono flamewar should be attributed to Ubuntu but to Gnome. AFAIK, the best mono supporter is Miguel De Icaza and not Shuttleworth. Of course Canonical could have banned mono altogether but IMHO Gnome is a lot more to be blamed for that.

    Then, it’s rather wrong to say Ubuntu will drop OOo from the default install. It will be dropped from the notebook edition. The desktop edition will have OOo AFAIK.

    Last point: switching to Yahoo instead of Google isn’t bad karma at all. Google has lots of privacy issues (see

    • pookito says:

      Am I the only one who is not seeing any problem with this. I do not think Google is Open Source best friends or have their best interest. I surely do not see a problem if Canonical does make the switch. I know that I will not use Yahoo search engine, I like Google better therefore I will switch the default search engine. If Canonical wants to make some money on their product it is not a big deal for me.

      • Jose_X says:

        Canonical has been taking steps that put them on Microsoft’s good side so as to enable them to partner up with Microsoft (tap into Microsoft money supply) more frequently. This means they will support the golden-egg-laying “evil” goose just as Novell is doing, if to a lesser degree.

        If I don’t like Google having lots of data on me, I trust Microsoft much less.

        Through Yahoo/Bing and deals like the one with Canonical, Microsoft is able to help manage the very important searching conversation of many Linux users. Which articles on the GPL or the FSF or software patents or open source or service X or Y or Z will be given high weight by Bing? I won’t stick around to find out (especially to see how this changes over time).

        Canonical will never have my support as long as they support Microsoft in nontrivial ways. I understand there are if’s and’s and but’s and that they are a business, but there are too many good distros out there, not to mention the beauty of remixing, to help Canonical/Microsoft out in this way. [ I’m neutral to negative, and that is not very good when one considers the vast Linux options out there.] Note that this wonderful money Canonical is making is being put back to help further more of the same Microsoft-helping moves.

        Clearly defaults matter very much or Canonical would not have changed defaults.

        Google needs a whole lot of checks and balances moving forward. One such move is to avoid their branded OS or applications to the degree these leverage closed source (including proprietary Google services). In any case, giving Microsoft pricing and other levers in the search/web area is not something I will ever support as long as Microsoft is so proprietary and dominant in various important areas. I doubt that in exchange for what Microsoft is getting, they are giving up that much that is being used against them.

    • “First, I don’t think the mono flamewar should be attributed to Ubuntu but to Gnome. AFAIK, the best mono supporter is Miguel De Icaza and not Shuttleworth.”

      Your second sentence is true, but means little. Miguel has very little influence over GNOME any more, as all he works on is Mono and Mono apps. In general, GNOME isn’t particularly Mono-ish. The only particularly popular Mono-ish apps in GNOME that I can think of are Tomboy and F-Spot, and neither of those is at all essential. No core bit of GNOME is dependent on Mono.

      (Not implying any particular position on Mono, just a factual note.)

  • Prajjwal says:

    I think that having Ubuntu One and making it closed source is definitely a demerit, but making a Windows version available …. that’s just facing reality, many many people use Ubuntu and Windows as a dual boot, or have to use Windows for Work, or something along those lines, i cant really fault them for making a windows version.

    GIMP from all installs, is a rational choice, it takes up too much space and as someone pointed out earlier, usually you don’t need a powerful image editor, just something that cna crop, scale and all that basic stuff.

    OOo, i understand as well, once again good program, but not always needed, and i’m pretty sure that going to the repositories, or ‘apt-get install’-ing isn’t really such a big hassle.

    Now to the point about Yahoo! being the default search engine …. Canonical needs the Revenue, and its not that hard to change it back to Google, or to change it to something else ….

    Just my 2 cents

    • Onan the Barbarian says:

      “i’m pretty sure that going to the repositories, or ‘apt-get install’-ing isn’t really such a big hassle.”

      It isn’t *IF* you have a fast internet connection.

    • MPS says:

      Ubuntu One is a web service. I don’t understand why people are making a special case of Canonical. Do people claim this web site is not open source if it doesn’t make all its CGI scripts and full directory structure public.?

      Sharing information and data with others on the Internet is one of Ubuntu One’s stated purposes. Supporting access by Windows (and Macs) is essential to meeting this aim. It also allows people who are forced to use Windows but who use Linux at home, to share data between home and office PCs without replacing the home Ubuntu OS with Windows.

  • gmb says:

    Disclosure: I work for Canonical.

    Other people have made more detailed points, but I think it’s worth stating: At no point have your fundamental freedoms to choose what you use been taken away. Don’t want Mono? Remove it. Want to use OO.o on your netbook instead of Google Docs? Install it using the software centre. Want the GIMP? Install it using the software centre. Don’t want to use Yahoo? Change your default search.

    That the defaults are changing isn’t a bad thing, I think, especially since they’re so easy to change back (and that won’t affect you at all if you’re a power user). True, there’s a chance that non-power users may be confused by the changes, but some simple instructions will help them through with the minimum of fuss.

    Ubuntu has never been about being free (as in speech) at all costs. It’s about pragmatism, about building a distro that is easy to use for all comers, but particularly for new users. I don’t think any of the changes are going against that philosophy.

    • gmb: “Ubuntu has never been about being free (as in speech) at all costs. It’s about pragmatism, about building a distro that is easy to use for all comers, but particularly for new users.”

      Really? That’s interesting. Compare against your website’s Philosophy page:

      “The most important thing about Ubuntu is that it confers rights of software freedom on the people who install and use it.”

      So the most important thing about Ubuntu is…not what Ubuntu’s really about? Hmm. There seems to be some confusion. 🙂

      • gmb says:

        gmb: “Ubuntu has never been about being free (as in speech) at all costs. It’s about pragmatism, about building a distro that is easy to use for all comers, but particularly for new users.”

        Really? That’s interesting. Compare against your website’s Philosophy page:

        “The most important thing about Ubuntu is that it confers rights of software freedom on the people who install and use it.”

        So the most important thing about Ubuntu is…not what Ubuntu’s really about? Hmm. There seems to be some confusion.

        Confusion? Not at all. If you read what I wrote again you’ll note that I said:

        Ubuntu has never been about being free (as in speech) at all costs.

        I don’t see how that statement is antithetical to the statement on the Ubuntu website at all. Moreover, just because Ubuntu is a pragmatic distro doesn’t mean that people don’t get the rights of software freedom. I’m intrigued as to why you think the two statements are at odds with each other.

        • How exactly does providing people with non-free software confer the rights of software freedom upon them?

          • gmb says:

            It gives people the right to chose to use it or not use it as they please. Surely not providing non-free (as in speech) software would effectively remove their freedom to chose what software they use.

          • hmm, well that’s a fairly fundamental point. People have different takes on it, I guess. FSF does not agree with you, for one. I don’t really want to get into that here. But I still think your initial comment doesn’t constitute a harmonious vision with the Ubuntu philosophy page, and this is reflective of a degree of institutional confusion regarding F/OSS principles within Ubuntu/Canonical. Just my opinion.

      • jeg says:

        Canonical is all about saying one thing, and doing another. The company is a cancer to everything they touch. It was disgraceful how they recently tried to subvert Debian’s development schedule to suit Ubuntu’s (obviously flawed as demonstrated by the appalling amount of bugs/regressions in Ubuntu releases) 6 month release schedule. Because Canonical is so desperate to siphon off Debian’s superior dev team, Matt Zimmerman even suggested that Ubuntu should become an official branch of Debian, ostensibly so Debian devs can instead spend their time freely fixing the mess that Ubuntu devs make of their Debian SID fork.

  • Karel Brits says:

    I don’t know if it’s a good evolution or not. On one hand, this might affect the popularity of Ubuntu among the FOSS community in a bad way. On the other hand it might convince other people to change from Windows to Ubuntu, when they have some proprietary software they’re used to work with (AutoCAD, Photoshop, …), running in Ubuntu without having to use Wine or other tricks to get it working.

    It’s a very dual situation. I think Canonical is more evolving to a firm you can compare with Apple (except for the hardware), then it is evolving to a firm compared with Microsoft. Is it a bad thing? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not.

    Some people starting with Ubuntu, might get interested in other free software and might try other distributions. At this point I don’t have a reason to give up Ubuntu yet.

  • ergalion says:

    Ubuntu was created to eliminate a bug: Ms windows. And its doing quite well on this imho. It’s true though that some of its choices (mono ubuntu one etc) are driving us foss believers away to other alternatives of easy to use linux distros: sidux etc. After all ubuntu is a debian based disto and debian will always be faith to its community where u can enjoy freedom from stable to sid. As for the choice of packages to include on the standard installation its a minor problem in my opinion the less the best; as you can add whatever you like from the vast repos and is as simple as apt-get install “name of package” but it’s more difficult to remove sometimes as it will leave behind dependencies and then you need another apt-get autoremove.
    Btw unlike you when i want to help a friend i install debian and i spend a little time to customize it for him 😉 friends are friends after all.
    Interesting article someone had to raise this question, I’m tweeting right away.

  • gmb says:

    Also, that people more are shouting doesn’t necessarily mean that what they’re shouting about is valid. One of the problems that I have with the open source community in general is the constant resorting to knee-jerkery and hyperbole (your title for this post is a good example, even though the post itself isn’t particularly hyperbolic).

    The problem is that there are a lot of users of Ubuntu… are all their opinions about how it should be run valid? I don’t think so, and I don’t think that you think so either. Now, if there is genuinely a change coming that will lead people to say en masse “We’re not going to use Ubuntu because of decision X” then I think you’ll find that the decision will be re-evaluated. Until then, Canonical need to work hard to sort the signal from the noise. At the moment, I think the majority of the signal is positive, though I’m not closely enough involved in the distro itself to know for sure.

    • Chasalin says:

      @gmb: It might be tricky to filter the MS-indoctrinated opinions from the ‘real’ opinions.
      I hope that the intention still is to make an easy-to-use OS rather than copying the MS-look and feel.

      Although I think Alan’s post is a bit like fighting windmills, he has a point. But when everyone can set up a repository for his own software and the package manager remains open, what’s the point?
      And on the other hand: _not_ listening to opinions is always a certain death…

    • jeg says:

      Of course the opinions of all Ubuntu users aren’t valid. The only opinions that are valid are the ones that aren’t censored on the extremely heavily, and non-transparently, censored Canonical forums.

      • Gordon says:

        You also have the censoring of the FOSS zealots by drowning you out what you say if you do not follow their ideology. It is like the current tactics of the Republican Party, be louder than the opposition and repeat the same thing over and over again until it is the only thing that is being heard. The biggest hypocrisy is that they want all this freedom of software, but they do not want freedom of choice for the end user, in this aspect the FOSS zealots are just like Microsoft, “I want you to do things my way and your choice does not matter.”

        • Rufus Polson says:

          Sorta like those blasted democracy zealots, who only want to offer you the limited choice of “leaders that the public have voted for”. No matter how effective an administrator a dictator or a group of oligarchs might be, they won’t even consider them as an option. Where’s the choice?
          Similarly, those dang Free Software zealots . . . if there’s 20 applications that do something, and 10 of them are open source, those zealots would have you restrict yourself to just those 10 choice. And the way they make you do their bidding . . . it’s horrible! They *talk* about it! Mention icky things like “principles” that threaten to *make you feel bad* if you ignore them! The nerve. Don’t they know Americans are entitled not to have to think about stuff like “ideas” and “principles”?

  • RJakiel says:

    Ubuntu may be dropping Gimp from the desktop but OOo is staying and only being dropped in Ubuntu Netbook Edition which makes sense. It can still be installed from the repos but not a necessity on initial install. As for asking what closed source software they want in a repo I have no problem with that. I have been using linux for a LONG time and it is nice to finally see someone trying to come up with a desktop linux that installs and just works with your hardware and has the codecs, etc… Times change and distributions evolve. Fortunately I believe that Canonical is taking the bull by the horns and trying to evolve Ubuntu into a true desktop replacement to Windows and not some GNU/Linux free (as in freedom and beer) distro that requires untold hacks to get things running.

    • Rufus Polson says:

      I have nothing against Ubuntu, but I really get sick of this “Finally trying to make things just work” triumphalism. Yeah, like no other distribution ever paid attention to usability or hardware support before Ubuntu. Really, Ubuntu isn’t a bad distribution for any of that stuff, but it’s not particularly better than a number of others either. There are lots of people in lots of distros working hard on all that stuff, and all the distros can thank people working on the kernel, device drivers, Gnome, KDE etc. for improving the stuff that the distros put together, making it easier for *everyone* to have a better Linux desktop. Ubuntu is one small part of this progress.

  • AlanH says:

    1. More people shouting = good thing. Remember the old saying about no such thing as bad adverts?

    2. Ubuntu One sucks. It is a pain in the ass. Bugs from last year still have not been addressed. BTW, been a debian user for over 8 years and Ubuntu primary only for almost 3.

    3. Gimp can be installed at any time. Doesn’t matter and don’t really care.

    4. Removing Open Office from install for netbooks. BAD decision. They should add a choice during initial install. Some of us (posting from Lenovo netbook) have the HD space for it.

    5. Matt Asay – new blood – good thing.

    6. When Ubuntu becomes a monopoly or even a competitor in the logical sense – we can then discuss this Jupiter to marbles analogy.

    • Ben says:

      Some of us however do NOT have the space for a full OpenOffice install. If you want it, install it. I however am using a netbook with only 4gb on the root partition and after installing the current Ubuntu, I have to go and start uninstalling things like OOo. Don’t fault Ubuntu for making their system more feasible for older hardware. You have enough space, good for you.

  • […] rodeado a Ubuntu y Canonical denotan ciertas decisiones controvertidas, tal y como han señalado en OpenSourcerer, a […]

  • Jay says:

    These are tremendously weak points if they’re meant to support the title of this post. You may not agree that GIMP should be removed from default installs, but how does that in any way liken Canonical to Microsoft?

    “This list is growing…” I don’t even see a common thread among the complaints in that list. The list’s parameters are just “Canonical decisions with which I happen not to agree.”

    I guess the analogy you’re trying to make is that there are some things people don’t like about Canonical, and there are some things people don’t like about Microsoft; therefore, Canonical is becoming the new Microsoft? That’s pretty flimsy. There are things to dislike about everything.

    Plus, as gmb pointed out — none of what Canonical is doing takes away any amount of freedom from you.

  • stadja says:

    Ubuntu is so much more than the sofware inside (that you can choose to get ride of or ti use whenever you want and easily, mutch more easily than in Windows).

    It is the community and the software aspect. I came to the Ubuntu world, form the Windows world 5 years ago…. and it’s so good to have a community answering your question that you never want to go back to your previous “oh my god, i am alone and if i want to change something i have to use an illegal crack”

  • FreeBooteR says:

    There is no comparison of Microsoft and Ubuntu since Ubuntu is not a monopoly, thank the geek gods! Don’t want mono by default, install a different distro. That’s why i moved to Arch, you get only what you want, and nothing is shoved down your throat.

  • MinnesotaJon says:

    From the standpoint of an end-user of software, Ubuntu seems free (as in “free choice”). None of the changes that Canonical is making appear to limit my freedom of choice — in fact, they are offering me more choices. Frankly, if you are going to use Linux, you have to be willing to tinker around a little — and changing from the default Yahoo! search to Google is a trivial amount of tinkering, compared to “get-apt”, etc. The biggest attraction of Ubuntu for me is that it provides the functionality of the essential Windows or Apple proprietary software without continually costing me money. Especially, I hate the stupid “upgrade” games that Microsoft and Apple have always played. As a businessman, I know that the world runs on profits — I’m glad for any income stream Canonical can tap, so that they can continue doing their great work, as long as they don’t start limiting my freedom of choice. I see nothing about their policies that limits my freedom of choice. The purists of the world serve some good function as a critical sounding board for the rest of us, but I’m a realist and, really, I have limited patience for purists of any kind. IMO, Open Source should not be a system of morality — it should be the basis for an alternative to enriching Microsoft and Apple. If Ubuntu also offers a couple of EXTRA CHOICES to make it more competitive against Microsoft and Apple — that’s fine with me.

    • Jose_X says:

      >> I have limited patience for purists of any kind. IMO, Open Source should not be a system of morality — it should be the basis for an alternative to enriching Microsoft and Apple.

      Many people with principles and ideals and foresight and independence aren’t “purists” yet have had a great bunch to do with FOSS being where it is today. I suspect you might not have “patience” for many of them either.

      People that value freedom and see the value in source code being accessible publicly (and hence low cost as well) tend to shun Microsoft and their ways.

      Whenever I have to pick between a company that will support Microsoft or one that will do so less or not at all, I will pick the latter.

      Red Hat isn’t the only other company that is making money with FOSS. Do keep in mind that FOSS is predominantly an end user product (for and by users). That is why it is such a good value. Many of the FOSS jobs are actually with the “end user” businesses or with small firms that support the end users fairly closely (or with nonprofits…). I support FOSS businesses of many kinds but not to the extent these would support Microsoft or monopolies or software patents, for example.

  • Royden Yates says:

    As Prajjwal wrote, revenue: that’s essentially what some of these issues (Ubuntu One, Yahoo) devolve down to. Canonical needs income as the Shuttle is worth a lot but not enough to be a benevolent, lifelong patron of pure FOSS. Many of the critics on principal seemingly wish him to be such without giving thought to sustainability. Redhat concentrates on the server market, essentially having given up on a commercially viable desktop. If the desktop is water that Canonical wants to swim in (noting that Redhat and others provide fierce competition in the *nix server segment) then it needs to find ways to operate that work financially.
    It is a complex world out there…..

  • Oli says:

    Extreme FOSS (that is demanding everything be free and open source) is as virulent and damaging to Ubuntu and its community as fascistly locking everything down (like Apple seems to want to do on some of its products). While FOSS is a great model for well known reasons, it’s impractical to think that all the best-of-class software can be open source, at least in the short-to-intermediate term.

    For Ubuntu to really thrive, it needs to harness the benefits of both worlds.

    Canonical should be helping companies distribute their software for Ubuntu through its apt repos (one of Ubuntu’s strongest single features). They should help with packaging. Hell, they should even help with porting and development if it comes to that. If they’re clever, they’ll be able to cultivate a similar development/distribution ecosystem that Apple makes millions from.

    Providing a mix ensures users can get what they want and that’s what Ubuntu should be about: choice. At the moment, no Linux distribution truly offers an easy migration from Windows/OSX if they want or require closed source software.

    And as a community we should also respect that Canonical isn’t a charity. They need to make money in order to invest it back in the product. It’s a little selfish to assume we get a free ride off Shuttleworth’s wallet forever.

  • Fargle says:

    This is open source, people – there are already tons of distributions based off Ubuntu. Personally, I understand that somebody’s got to make money somewhere in this whole scheme, and that’s what Canonical is trying to do with some of these things.

    The Gimp is too much of a beast for the average user, and isn’t worth the valuable distribution space. It’s a simple matter to apt-get gimp if you still want it. Changing the search engine is a simple setting, and one that will get performed quite a lot, I’m sure. The difference is, and will always be, that with Canonical/Ubuntu/Linux, you have options, and free ones.

    But if they ever go too far, the same thing will happen to them that happened to Red Hat – after the whole Red Hat 9 mess and the startup of Fedora, any idiot could see that Fedora is just them using people for free testing on their crazily-expensive commercial offering. I and others said forget that, I switched to Gentoo, and then moved to Ubuntu when I got sick of 8-hour recompile times for patches.

    In short, Canonical is nowhere near even approaching Microsoft in evilness – and titling your article that is hyperbole that doesn’t provide incentive for a constructive dialog. However, if bad things start to happen, Canonical will get the same clue-stick vis-a-vis the developer community that Red Hat did.

  • LiamWilson says:

    I personally think that removing OO.o is a bad idea for UNE, because if one wants to access their files offline, what will they do? I personally have the need to create and edit my files offline whilst in college and when I’m on the move. I think that they should at least consider abiword/gnumeric unless they provide an offline solution…

    As for GIMP – feel free to remove it, but at least replace it with something that users can draw with – pinta, perhaps?

  • Brett says:

    I don’t see in any fashion how Ubuntu/Canonical is “The New Microsoft”. You just listed complaints about Ubuntu/Canonical but in no way parallelled it to Microsoft.

  • Roy Tanck says:

    It seems to me that the exclusion of software from the distribution is a logical step given how easy it’s gotten to install stuff. I’m still pretty new to Ubuntu, and strictly a ‘user’, but the thing I always show friends and family is the software center (or the old add/remove thingy). Compared to downloading .exe files and going through lengthy installs it makes a great case for Linux. Especially because most people think Linux is ‘difficult’.

    If anything, offering all available software after OS install is more free than preselecting. People hate IE being preinstalled on Windows, well I happen to not use Firefox (much). Nothing wrong with the OS just being the OS, instead of a complete system install with everything everyone potentially needs. It’s also what Windows users are used to.

    Btw, I think Ubuntu’s main focus shouldn’t be FOSS enthusiasts. They’ll know where to go if Ubuntu no longer fits their needs. There’s a much bigger audience to be had, and imho Ubuntu is ready to get them.

  • Dave Morley says:

    Isn’t OOo only being dropped from the netbook version?

    Gimp is a good choice for dropping people who need it can grab it quick enough, but not everyone needs it, with f-spot, Gthumb, picassa etc etc etc doing a good enough job for most users.

    The Yahoo point is because it makes canonical money everytime you use it this is a plus because you can help pay the way for the developers that spend all day working on Ubuntu. I think canonical would of been happy if google had made the deal but that didn’t happen.

    Ubuntu one it’s only the backend that’s closed and all the tech being used by the user are open.

    I’m apathetic towards mono, if MS get cocky and start suing people for using .net then they would need to sue customers aswell as OS people too. I’m with you to a degree, why oh why especially when there alternatives. 1 big problem here though is it tends to be these apps with the most development for example tomboy, f-spot, banshee etc are the apps in their field under heaviest development adding features and fixing bugs.

    At the end of the day if your not happy with Ubuntu you can use another Linux os, that is the beauty of Linux choice 🙂

  • Matt Asay says:

    Well, after several days with Canonical I can say a few things with absolute certainty:

    1. Canonical is 100,000,000,000% (give or take 000000000001% 🙂 committed to choice, freedom, and all the other ideals that make the free and open source software community wonderful. I don’t change that commitment one iota.

    2. I’ve actually never been an enemy of software freedom, though it is true that freedom for me is a means to an end, and not necessarily an end in itself. (The same is true in the non-software world. Freedom of speech is important because of what it lets me say, and not just because it’s there.)

    I joined Canonical because it allows me to focus on ubiquity of Ubuntu first, and monetization (through services like support, etc.) second. I think, as an industry, we’re still far from settling on The Right Way to create software businesses. Canonical’s patient approach appeals to me. It means the company doesn’t have to make compromises.

    So, please be patient. We’re trying our best, and (I believe) have the same interests as you at heart.

    • Peter says:

      freedom for me is a means to an end, and not necessarily an end in itself.


      (The same is true in the non-software world. Freedom of speech is important because of what it lets me say, and not just because it’s there

      Freedom is not just an individual pursuit, but a societal one as well. In fact, if it isn’t pursued at a social level, it has little value. It merely acts as a plaything for people to make a profit from.

      Instead of twisting your tongue around the idea of “freedom”, come out and be clear that your goal is to make “Linux” and “open source” as popular as possible. Canonical’s form of “Linux” is Ubuntu and their goal is to make it as popular as possible. The more popular it is, the more money they can make. *That is why they hired you.* Your job is to help make Ubuntu more popular. Your views and goals mesh well with their views and goals. And that’s OK.

      What rubs many the wrong way is when you start making claims on what “freedom” is. Matt, you give little thought or value to freedom. We get you. You are an expert at monetizing Free software under the moniker “Open Source”. However, you’ve so far had nothing of substance to say in regard to software “freedom”. You’re interested in spreading a business model, not freedom. It’s best you just be honest about that instead of putting forth the idea that you are actually promoting freedom. Pretending just makes you look foolish.

  • Ambleston Dack says:

    Like most posts here, I can count on one hand the time I have used Gimp to do some serious graphic work, usually it’s more rotate, crop and reduce red eye on photographs. Gimp sure is more powerful that what I need, so I can see a sane reason for dropping it. As is pointed out OO.o will still be there for the full blown desktop version, but I can also see the merit in Abiword and Gnumeric as good solid replacements.

    Canonical is at the end of the day a commercial company and as such needs to make money to keep the likes of Jono Bacon and Matt Assay in their employ. So opening up UbuntuOne to Windows users and who knows maybe Mac users in the future to generate revenue is not the birdie to the FOSS world.

    If people keep whining on about this, how many will bemoan when Canonical decides, sod it, we’ll listen to the community and release Ubuntu and its derivatives on a DVD, just to fit all the damn software that maybe a small percentage might use one day. If you need the power of Gimp, just apt-get install gimp will suffice.

    C’mon folks, before putting fingers to buttons on the keyboard, think about things first. How many of you have ever done a vanilla install of Windows? Did you get an office suite with it? Or say a bit torrent client? An instant messaging client perhaps? Heck if your lucky, you might have had all your hardware drivers installed! A vanilla install of Windows gives you nothing of value to do serious tasks. Most Linux distro’s will give you tools to work with from the off.

  • Avi :) says:

    Joining the Canonical =~ Microsoft fray…

    I’ve had this knocking about for a while in various forms. Following TheOpenSourcerer’s post, I figured I’d get it in while he’s getting the flack. About a year ago, I remember there being some rejoicing at the prospect of Canonical open-sourcing L…

  • fd.svensson says:

    Hey! Just because they take away GIMP they not bad. Gimp is old for us newbies and a little advanced, Then Ive have to say thats better with Krita. Then what you have Red Hat,Suse and Oracle. So who’s afraid?

  • foo says:

    I’ve been using Ubuntu since 2005. I’ve always been a happy user, and was happy to help other people make the switch, using my free time to help them out.

    Because of the stuff that is happening with Canonical (most of them mentioned in this post), and a lot more to come, I no longer feel comfortable using it and even less enthused to talk to people about it.

    A quick search on Google (yes, Google), will show the number of users that are making the switch because of the crap Canonical is putting out. I’ve always known Canonical owned Ubuntu, but I always had hope that the community would run the project the way it sees fit, because, after all, the community made the project (with help from Canonical) and not the other way around.

    It’s sad that companies don’t see the crap they do until it’s too late, and I believe the same thing will happen with Canonical.

    Ubuntu will always be “big”, as several keys members of the community don’t give a flying fuck about free software (not open source), but unfortunately, the very few of us who care about such thing, will have to jump ship to sleep better at night.

    Now it’s the time that Debian users get to tell us all: We told you so!

    For the idiots who compare the vanilla installation of Ubuntu with Windows: Please get run over by a bus!

  • roger says:

    As people have pointed out, none of your points shows any parallel with Microsoft. Do you even remember why the FOSS crowd dislikes MS? It’s for shoving largely crappy proprietary products down an entire industry’s throat, with enough clout to make major companies like HP and Dell sing to their tune. There’s an argument that Google might turn into the world’s next MS (even though I don’t really buy it), at least they have the size and the creativity for it. But Ubuntu? What world are you on?

    All Ubuntu is doing is throwing another distribution into the Linux arena. One that happens to be quite well put together, nice looking and easy to run and administer, which is why a good portion of the Linux world uses it. It is also not a Free Software purist distribution a la gNewSense, which in the current world is incompatible with making a distribution for the average end user (with mp3 playback and flash being probably the two biggest sticking points).

    The point is, in no way is any freedom being taken away from you, neither directly through EULAs, nor indirectly through market dynamics (as far as I’m concerned, making Linux much more popular as Ubuntu is doing is *good* for the ultimate goal of software freedom. Gives us a much bigger voice in the world where we are a rather small minority, especially on the desktop).

    It’s a Linux distribution, with all the openess that entails. You want the GIMP and know how to use it? It’s a few clicks away, and the new Software Center is there to let the most clueless newbies who couldn’t tell an apt-get from a cup of tea to install it. Same with OO.o on netbooks (which I agree is a bit odd to leave out). You want non-mono based applications for note taking and photo management? They’re just as easily available (I much prefer gthumb to f-spot, but I can see why many people want a program to maintain a “library” for them).

    Now, if I have any gratuitous advice to give to the Ubuntu people, it would be: don’t just add mainstream-looking features like ties into music services or cloud services “because Apple is doing it” or “because that’s the way the future looks like it’s going”. Ask yourselves very concretely, what are the things that people are missing and would like, both for actual Ubuntu users and for those who might be close to trying it – but don’t confuse that with the question of what the average computer user wants or likes! FOSS *is* a specific demographic and needs to be served well. And if you add something that sounds very cool and mainstream-ish and people are not using it, don’t be afraid to take it off again.

  • jellmoo says:

    I like GIMP and use it on a fairly regular basis. Same with OOo. That being said, I fully support these applications not being installed by default. I will gladly take a leaner system I can build on top of as opposed to a fatter one that I must prune.

    I would love to see a post installation “setup” of sorts, similar to what’s done in Pardus, but with even more options. Something along the lines of:

    What do you anticipate your office productivity needs being?

    Minimal. We recommend you use Google Docs. Do you wish to setup an account now? (instructions to do so)
    Moderate use of word processing and spreadsheet. We recommend you install Abiword and Gnumeric (click here).
    Heavy use of an office productivity suite. We recommend you install (click here).

    Streamline it and make it simple for anybody to get the software they need, as opposed to giving everyone the “heaviest” apps by default, even when it is pure overkill.

  • Alan says:

    Canonical is and always has been a for-profit company. Anyone who was under some other impression needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

    It’s five years in and the company isn’t turning a profit. I think it’s no coincidence that (1) Mark stepped down as CEO and (2) the company is suddenly exploring any number of options to profit from Ubuntu’s success.

    If profiting from software makes a company Microsoft, then I guess that’d be Canonical. It’d also be Red Hat, Novell, Xandros, Mandriva and anyone else who ever grossed a nickel shipping Linux. Maybe it’s time to drop the melodrama and realize what makes the world go ’round.

    As for apps being dropped from the CD: YAWN. Wake me up when they drop them from the repos. Until then, programs are getting bigger and CDs aren’t. Get used to programs disappearing from the default install.

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  • Alan Lord says:

    My apologies. It seems I articulated my point very badly. Please read this follow-up post where I try to explain what I was asking.

    • David says:

      No, you articulated it fine, I got the gist of it from reading your post. Many (from reading the above comments) seemed to focus on individual points instead of focusing on the “point” of the article. I think they locked onto the details right away without bothering to examine the overall context, and see the actual point you were making. Basically, they jumped without looking. 🙂

      For what it’s worth, some of us (myself at least) “got it”. Too many are busy rabidly defending their “idol”. Thanks for your points, and your time. I enjoy following what you have to say. Cheers. 🙂

  • ian says:

    Good post.
    First up, as users accrue, you’re going to get disproportionately more “squeaky wheels”, so it’s no surprise the complaints are rising. It’s a catch 22 for Canonical: they want more users, but they’ve got the “early adopters” now, and so are going to have to make it really easy for the people now coming. MS didn’t have this problem; people had no choice when they learnt that OS, so they didn’t get tarred with the “I’ve got an option I’m already used to” brush. The most common problem people have when they start using Linux is that it isn’t familiar.
    Second, it’s not that bad a thing. People get driven away by MS, and start using Linux. Then they learn what FOSS stands for. Then they read something about mono/ Ubuntu One/ name your poison. No-one gets it perfectly right; Ubuntu is a fantastic beginners distro, as it irons out most of the installation issues- not least, by being not too dissimilar from more familiar interfaces. Once you’re in, you can learn; when you’ve go off the steep bit of the learning curve, you can start thinking about taking off the trainer wheels (eg the lack of a root login) and moving on.

    Thirdly, there’s a balance to be struck on the moneymaking end of it. If the US Patent “laws” had been around 500 years ago, Gutenberg could have patented typesetting for ever, and we’d be still reading his bible, and nothing else. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone minds good novel writers making a living. The modern day equivalent would be the patenting something as ridiculously basic as, well, maybe clicking on something, vs copyrighting code.

    • “If the US Patent “laws” had been around 500 years ago, Gutenberg could have patented typesetting for ever, and we’d be still reading his bible, and nothing else.”

      Um, no he couldn’t. Patents are granted for a fairly short time in the U.S.: 20 years. The main problem with software patents, in fact, is that the patent term was set a long time ago, with mechanical inventions in mind, where 20 years is a pretty reasonable term; it makes no sense in the world of software, where anything three years old is hopelessly obsolete.

      (Term expiry does come in useful for some software patents, even still. Fedora recently enabled the freetype bytecode interpreter, as the relevant patents have expired now…)

  • JohnB says:

    I use, and promote the use of Ubuntu – well, Linux in general as both desktop and server (SSH/HTTP(S)/NFS, etc.) I understand Canonical and wholeheartedly agree so long as just one thing: priorities take a shift toward getting the basics right. I have just spent 4 hours setting up a brand new laptop, only to find the sound card has no drivers, the new WIFI card needs (MS) wrappers, and Skype will not work because of the sound card issues (yes I could have made it work – eventually). I installed (very red-faced) MS-XPHome, and it was running in 1 hour 12 minutes! Now, Canonical. I understand issues with manufacturers and proprietary drivers but if you are ever going to get Ubuntu away from a “Geeks machine”, by all means leave out OOo and GIMP both of which I use regularly and promote, but fill the space with drivers that work with the latest hardware. You can’t expect a non-geek to fiddle with wrappers, searching the Internet for patches and fixes, etc. You’ll never “be” another Microsoft if you don’t get these basics sorted.

  • Rainer Weikusat says:

    In a sense, it is. A sizeable amount of statements above talk about ‘the average user’ or do so thinly disguised a mock first-person narratives. And that’s the essence of the “Microsoft philosophy how the world ought to be seen”: ‘We’ are very wise, ‘the others’ are ignorant and stupid and will be much happier when having our unselfish expert guidance. The tantalizing aspect of this viewpoint is that a large fraction of ‘the others’ (or all people, fwiw) are actually ‘stupid and ignorant and much happier this way’.

    But this is really a very bad state of affairs and should rather be remedied than encouraged.

  • L4Linux says:

    Ubuntu One client will be available for windows?? When??
    The only reason for not using it, is that most of my relatives & friends use windows.

  • arkashkin says:

    1. Mono should be removed, I don’t really understand why it is still in Ubuntu, because we have alternative for tomboy already…
    2. I believe that the source of Ubuntu-One will be opened sooner or later, the same story as with launchpad…
    3. How much people do you know that used all this special features of GIMP? It is a professional software!
    4. Open Office has dropped only from the Net-book edition because it is too heavy software for their slow processors, it is a very good reason!

    “Next comes dumping GIMP, OOo and other much-loved applications from the default installation of versions of the forthcoming distribution.”
    dud, maybe some one paid you to say this noun sens?

    5. Closed/proprietary applications should be made available in the Ubuntu repositories only because
    it is necessary to bring much more people to Linux. How do you want to bring more people to Linux if they don’t have a safe enough ground to land? It is a must step of being a main stream OS!

    6. Switching the search engine from Google to Microsoft Yahoo.
    I believe that if Mark have chosen this way, he has a really good reasons for that.
    Us you know competing with Microsoft and Apple is not so easy, they have a lot of money, Ubuntu does not!

    7. About Matt Asay, we will see, how it goes…

    Think about how hard it is for Cononical to accomplish all it’s goals before you begin judging them!

    Sorry for my bad English.

  • Required says:

    I can’t stand Ubuntu at all. It’s popular because people are running around saying it’s popular. And all these reasons above is why I won’t use it. First it’s not the easiest to use, best hardware detection, ect, ect…linux system out there. I have had more issues getting ubuntu to run than any other distro out there. Second, all these “business” decisions they have been making lately are all about business, not for the users experience and choice. This type of things going on is just the start to bad. The start to an opensource “free” as in freedom operating system slowly working its way in the corporate control. How much longer until all decisions in ubuntu are made by corporate controlled business decisions, without the users in mind. a year.. 2 years… When an opensource free operating system starts to worry about revenue decisions and political statements, then its already over, just another microsoft. RIP Ubumtu.

  • Golodh says:

    Although I’m no Ubuntu user (I use MS Windows and SuSE Linux), a very occasional Gimp user, and a frequent OpenOffice user I can see no problem at all with Ubunto:
    (a) dropping Gimp from the notebook distro
    (b) dropping OpenOffice from the notebook distro
    (c) putting Mono with the standard distro
    (d) putting closed-source stuff in the standard distro
    (e) setting Yahoo as a default search engine.

    I agree with most of the above comments that dropping Gimp and OpenOffice from the notebook distro means you’ll have to install it yourself. Unfortunate if you’re in the bush without a decent Internet connection, trivial anywhere else. I think Ubuntu isn’t trying to be a “bush-distro”, and I’m fine with that.

    I also agree with the comments of gmb that people who dislike Mono can de-install it, no harm done. Likewise some of the closed-source applications. Sometimes closed-source apps are actually better than any available open-source app. When they are I’ll happily use them; when they aren’t, they’re out.

    And then the standard search engine … how futile can you get? I never use any “pre-set” search engine: I just open the browser and select the tab for Google. If Ubunto can make an advertising buck from Yahoo by making its browser the default, so what? I don’t begrudge them the money and I won’t even notice anyway.

    I applaud Ubuntu’s pragmatism: lets put something together that works, is largely (but not fully) Open-Source based and has enough polish to be a viable alternative to MS Windows. Because: lets not forget that it’s mostly Ubuntu’s polish and end-user friendliness that looks like finally putting Linux on the desktop map. KDE in and by itself didn’t succeed in doing that. Gnome in and by itself didn’t succeed in doing that. Debian, Red Hat, SuSE and tons of other distros didn’t succeed in that. As far as I can see, only Ubuntu has sufficient ease of use and polish to challenge MS Windows on the desktop.

    Besides, anyone who doesn’t like what Ubuntu is doing can easily pick one of 5 big distro’s more to their liking, right? Freedom of choice!

    So let’s lay off Ubuntu shall we? They’re doing a fine job for those who want it.

  • MasterNetra says:

    Frankly I’d be more concerned if Caronical removed Gimp and Ooo from their repo’s but removing it from cd, nah. Gimp and Ooo aren’t exactly the lightest programs.
    The change to Yahoo from google, bothers me a tad, but as long as we can change it back to google I can live with that.
    As for mono I don’t use it, and I’d imagine most people don’t. If its on the CD they should remove that as well. They can keep it in their repo’s I don’t care. After all if you got a problem with using it then don’t.
    Ubuntu one on the other hand. A closed system from a open source company? That I have to wag my finger at. I mean I thought caronical championed open source stuff? Guess I was wrong.
    Drivers, here I can understand the suppling of proprietary versions as well as the open. I mean as nice as it would be to have a open source driver that is at least equal to or better then its proprietary version, the fact is a number of open source drivers are currently inferior to their proprietary brethren .(BCM vs STA for example, my card doesn’t get the range it has on STA on BCM, BCM much shorter and the connection less stable.) And even in some cases there may not be a open source driver alternative to the proprietary one.

  • EMoc says:

    One of the biggest problems with the open source community is the arrogance of its members. The open source movement is not a religion but is treated by most as such. Why is that? I have been in the open source community for 6 years now and I see a lot of hate (strong word but it fits), self righteousness, anger, and a general dislike for each other. I’m talking about people who preach freedom and at the same time would love to see another open source project fail because they don’t agree with it or just don’t like it. There are very few articles that talk about the goodness of open source. I guess the hits won’t be as much unless you have headlines like this one article. You may say that everybody is entitled to their opinion and that is true, but you take it too far. Articles and comments like these are just the ammo that Microsoft needs to damage the oss movement. Of course the community does more damage to itself than any damage Microsoft could do. Microsoft is the evil empire of the software world but the oss community takes it to a personal level. Do you really think that this article will really add anything to the open source movement. It is useless. So go ahead and do your little distro bashing and puff your chest out like you know what you are doing. Canonical knows what they are doing and I’m sure you don’t know more than they do. This is a fact, if Ubuntu fails on the desktop then linux will never have a serious contender. It won’t be the fault of MS, it will be the fault of the oss community.

    • Jose_X says:

      Some of this anger you are seeing is directed at those that take actions that favor Monopolysoft. If there is a choice to support a distro or company that helps Monopolysoft in a number of ways, perhaps more than it hurts Monopolysoft, never mind the reasons, or one that doesn’t do this or to a lesser extent, don’t be surprised if people vote for the latter.

      As long as software patents are a real threat or deterrent in the market place, the use of mono is pure stupidity, useful only to those with deals with Monopolysoft. Mono is a vast platform developed by Monopolysoft with patents exploitable by troll companies affiliated with Monopolysoft. APIs semantic features are patentable. Monopolysoft is the greediest and most controlling company around of those with significant power.

      Short-term, by dealing with Monopolysoft, Canonical gains financial and strategic leverages against smaller Linux competitors. I support the wider community, much of it composed of smaller entities, and most of it best off without the concentration of power.

      I won’t support an embrace of Linux by Monopolysoft. Canonical’s moves are *not* *hugely* supportive of Monopolysoft at this point, but they smell bad enough to me so that they will not be getting my vote. I’ll exercise my options while they are still healthy options.

      • Yonah says:

        By using the term “Monopolysoft” you demonstrate the kind of juvenile hate that EMoc was talking about. It’s a real problem that you share with some in the FOSS community. You just can’t deal with people on an honest level without resorting to name calling, insults, and flames. Disgraceful.

        • Jose_X says:

          Monopolysoft is a play on the name of a predatory unethical monopolist mega corporation’s name. This company has way too much power and influence. Software is too crucial to the running of society for a single company, much less such an unethical one, to have so much influence over so much of it.

          You would help your side of the argument more if you used reasoning to defend a position or critique the other position rather than simply attack me for my use of compact, efficient, and fairly accurate terminology.

          If you see X or Y action simply as a business decision, no more, no less, then simply state so. A lot of people care about various qualities of “free and open source” software. There is no need to try and deceive anyone? Legally making money is an acceptable business reason to make a legal business decision but is not automatically a reason for consumers and contributors to buy into the particular proposition. [Obviously, not all businesses consider it acceptable to engage in all ways of making money that are likely legal.]

          BTW, if I had used the term “Microsoft” instead, I would have had to make that comment longer in order to express more clearly some of the reasons why I do not support Microsoft’s business and why I think dismembering or otherwise neutralizing that corporation is in the best interest of most consumers.

          Surely, it is legal to consider the “dismembering” of a corporation. These are not living entities and some corporations actually spend much time and focus trying to dismember other corporations.

  • Boke Yuzgen says:

    Canonical caught a good pace. Don’t hit it now.

    – Mono – The more apps run on Linux, the better. Freedom?
    – Ubuntu One – They’re giving you free space. You’re free to use it or not. – I personally use Dropbox, because it’s cross platform. If Ubuntu One works on Mac and Windows, I’ll switch, so will many others.
    – GIMP, OOo – It’s about tastes. Everybody’s opinions vary.
    – Closed/proprietary apps – Same as Mono
    – Google to Yahoo – You have a point here, but it’s OK for me. Let them earn some money. They’re doing a great job against MS. How about Mozilla and Google? Let them pay more.

    Let’s suppose Canonical is really becoming The New Microsoft. Their improvements can still be used then. It’s open source. Useful article and discussion though. Let them know they’re being watched closely.

    • Jose_X says:

      >> Mono – The more apps run on Linux, the better. Freedom?

      By this simplistic argument, the more virus, worms, and malware we have on Linux, the better. The more flavors of “rm -rf /” binaries we can get from the Internet (or from a LiveCD) that run on Linux, the better.

      There are a number of reasons why many people shun the spread within Linux of mono and of other Microsoft created, patented, and dominated interfaces, protocols, and formats.


      >> Google to Yahoo – You have a point here, but it’s OK for me. Let them earn some money. They’re doing a great job against MS. How about Mozilla and Google? Let them pay more.

      Helping Microsoft’s Bang platform is not my idea of a positive step. Making money for helping Microsoft out and then pouring a chunk of that money into, eg, the development and packaging of mono, is not a good step. Perhaps if Canonical would share with the community all the applicable terms of that deal, we might grow to be more understanding.

      Entrusting the search results of most Ubuntu users to Microsoft is not a good idea. Does Canonical have a deal or quid pro quo that they will receive positive placement within Bing results?

      BTW, it’s interesting after all of these years that Canonical made this move to Yahoo shortly after Yahoo struck their deal with Microsoft. It’s also interesting that Canonical did not choose a different search engine not affiliated with Bing since there are many choices of search engine out there and Bing is not the best by any means. Canonical could have used a deal to help promote and foster the growth of an actual fair alternative to Google.

      I have used Yahoo services for many years (over a decade). I cut back after their Microsoft deal. Anyway, if Canonical would explain their thought process, we might understand, but I have no intention of moving towards a future where Microsoft buys out the top Linux desktop company (for $$ of course) and that company holds very large mind share.

  • 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.

  • Goblin says:

    What a great article.
    I think the voices with concerns re: Ubuntu are more of a testament to Microsoft reputation rather than Canonical themselves. We only have to look at comments Steve Ballmer has made re: Linux or recent allegations surrounding “theft of code” from Plurk to see where this justified mistrust comes from, in my opinion.

    I fully supported Ubuntu One on Windows, at the time of the announcement I said any extra revenue stream Canonical could produce would only benefit them and ultimately the end-user. When there were rumblings about proprietary software being offered on Ubuntu, I supported that too stating packages like Photoshop were, in my opinion examples of software that prevented users coming to Linux and kept them locked into Windows.

    Yahoo search? – Reserve judgement, but in a round the houses way its Microsoft money and inference may be drawn.

    Gimp being removed? If memory serves the poll in Ubuntu’s own forums suggested that users felt rather strongly about keeping Gimp and I must admit, whilst I have no need of its advanced features, Ive seen peoples work who do and the package is amazing.

    I thank Canonical for its work with Ubuntu and its contribution. Nothing would upset me more than to see Ubuntu fall from grace because of what I perceive as numerous large decisions that are not what the community wants. I had a very interesting chat with Jono Bacon in IRC recently and this did nothing to remove my concerns. Its been many years since Ubuntu was on my main rig, but since its arguably the first port of call for a new user and has a large userbase of seasoned Linux vets, the last thing that should happen should be a migration away from Ubuntu.

    Canonical may have grand plans for the future of Ubuntu. Its all in vain though if they loose their user-base.


  • pololoq says:

    Mono isn’t exactly new, is it? Nor is it available exclusively in Ubuntu. Mono helps quickly building GUI’s and so it is interesting for Ubuntu that is GUI-fying everything.
    And the choice to drop a few packages and keep the install disk minimal, is justifiable, although I would like to see what other packages caused the install file to grow beyond sane proportions. But, installing GIMP and OOo is just one command away.

    But here is the thing: who expected that a company like Canonical would invest in a product, just, because they love you and me? The shortest path to compete with Microsoft and Apple on the desktop market at this stage is, whether you like it or not, through Linux. Canonical will be the company that takes Linux to turn it into a profitable desktop operating system, just like Red Hat did on the server market. And that will mean compromises. Ubuntu is one big compromise already; I mean: look at it. I also expect Ubuntu’s mission statements and good intentions towards the FOSS communities and Debian to get blurrier as they move along.

    It’s strange. Half of the blog posts about Linux are about how “Linux is not ready for Joe”. So, there is a company that wants to make Linux ready for Joe and make a buck in the process. And this company is Canonical. And every other company investing in Linux as a desktop OS wants to be Canonical now. Business models on how to make money with an OS, have changed quite dramatically. There’s advertising, app stores and what have you. But I think Canonical is in pole position and they are sitting on a gold mine. Maybe some other gig will show up and take advantage of the entire situation.

    As a veteran Linux user, I expected this to happen years ago, already. And I think it is a good thing. More people will use Linux thanks to Ubuntu. Some of them will like it and stay where they are, others will move to other distro’s. Net result: more people will contribute. I’m just not sure whether people will continue to share code under some ‘free’ license, if it could be taken just like that by a distro who is actually making money if Canonical will at some stage use more and more closed-source.

    Those who don’t like it, can easily move to another distro. There’s plenty of them, and some don’t have the slightest intention to make compromises to Joe. And it’s never been easier to make your own distro. People often forget the true power of open source: change or fork what you don’t like and do it yourself.

    • arkashkin says:

      You have explained this issue very well!

    • pookito says:

      Dude, you have spoken the truth, I just have a question, I would like to find out about a Linux distribution that could be as user friendly as Ubuntu. I have not found any. I know that Fedora, Mandrake among other distros are doing an exceptional job, but there is something about Ubuntu that Just does it for me. I will switch to any other distribution if I can find another distro that will work like Ubuntu, I can not find any, at this moment. Some of us need to understand that this is not a religion, it is a business, and business needs to look for number 1, themselves and their stockholders, they need to make money so they can survive in this world. The way I see it, if someday, Canonical does something that I do not like, I will switch from their OS, or even better, make my own Linux OS. I think some of us should do the same.

      • pololoq says:

        Ubuntu has a lot. It is based on Debian, which is one of the older distro’s. It is stable and it makes a lot of sense in how it manages packages. Ubuntu has also chosen Gnome as the default DE, combined with a number of very nice applications.
        It has a pretty good installer. It is simplified, but it works very well and I haven’t known it to fail too often. Ubuntu is easy to install and it is easy in every aspect.
        There’s a big community, there’s quite a lot of documentation (there are even specific books like Ubuntu Kung Fu, that list 300 pages of useful tweaks). Canonical is also building up a network of certified support companies (for training, migration, helpdesk, the whole lot). Put all this together and you have quite a handsome package.
        So, for people and businesses looking for a user-friendly Desktop Linux, Ubuntu was the first that did it all right.

        But there are people that see Linux and computing in general as a religion. Which is totally normal.
        OSS is a philosophy. And I think, the more you know about it, the more you will become interested in this philosophy and the less you want to see it spoiled. I think a lot of people are genuinely concerned that something they helped build (and Ubuntu is an extension of that) is becoming another faceless corporation that wants to force its users into certain ways and lock them in. Because, no matter how you look at it, this always seems to be the endgame when business takes over from hackers.

        But there will always be alternatives. Maybe not as user-friendly, but there are some pretty good distro’s out there.

    • Jose_X says:

      An immediately better solution for someone like me than to promote *buntu appears to be to repackage a *buntu with various changes made and then promote those distros instead of a *buntu proper. This way Canonical makes their contributions, and I make mine, without helping them pass on what I consider to be bad decisions.

      Of course, I could also just promote other distros (or remixes) like Mandriva, PCLOS, SimplyMepis, Fedora, Debian, Sidux, as well as numerous lighter ones that might appeal to those wanting even more simplicity, eg, simplicITy or any simple distro custom made to particular customer needs.

  • In many respects I can appreciate what the author is saying. While I love Ubuntu, and always recommend it to clients, well… everyone for that matter. I am becoming increasingly concerned with the choices being made. One example is the MeMenu is part of Lucid’s “social network” integration. To be quite blunt, in my opinion, it’s silly to include such things by default. The majority of people I know, use a computer as a tool, not a toy. To assume users want such things included, results in many of us having to waste time removing them.

    A case in point, the biggest complaints I hear from clients who purchase Windows based PC’s, is the excessive amount of time they spend removing unneeded applications from their new systems. Those who switched to Ubuntu, at my suggestion, did not encounter this issue.

    Given the types of packages being selected for addition into Ubuntu, I’m currently fielding a growing number of requests to have packages removed prior to delivering PCs. This reminds me so much of Windows.

    In my opinion, changing search engines, removing and adding applications, and other unilateral (dare I say uninformed decisions?) leaves me unsure as to the direction being taken – There be dragons!

  • MinnesotaJon says:

    OK, going back to the title of this post: “Is Canonical Becoming The New Microsoft?”
    No, Google is becoming the New Microsoft.
    I use GIMP and OpenOffice every day, for my business needs. They are both great software — and I have no problem with downloading and installing them separately from my Linux distro.
    Canonical needs money to keep existing, so they make a deal with Yahoo! that may make some advertising money for Microsoft. I have no problem with this — I would like to see Microsoft making MORE money on advertising, because I expect they will make LESS money on software, due to Linux distros like Ubuntu. As far as I can see, Ubuntu — with Gnome-compatible software (free or non-free) — is the only viable challenger to Microsoft’s dominance.
    2 clicks needed to change from the default Yahoo! search to Google or or whatever? 2 clicks? This is the proverbial “tempest in a teapot”.
    I do agree that Canonical needs to get frequent reality checks from the user base. That’s the value of discussions like this.

  • Jose_X says:

    >> No, Google is becoming the New Microsoft.

    Google needs their checks and balances, but Microsoft *IS* the existing Microsoft and very possibly will be tomorrow’s Microsoft as well.

    Canonical should keep that in mind.

    People that know how might want to re-spin Ubuntu to suit their taste. Re-brand it. Add whatever else you want. And then distribute that to friends.. assuming you like Ubuntu and not something else.

    >> I would like to see Microsoft making MORE money on advertising, because I expect they will make LESS money on software, due to Linux distros like Ubuntu.

    I absolutely do not want Microsoft to make more money in any area or gain leverage or pricing power in any area. I want them to lose their very tight grip and this means I don’t want any of their major business units to have success.

    >> As far as I can see, Ubuntu — with Gnome-compatible software (free or non-free) — is the only viable challenger to Microsoft’s dominance.

    You need to get out more.

    >> 2 clicks needed to change from the default Yahoo! search to Google or or whatever? 2 clicks? This is the proverbial “tempest in a teapot”.

    It’s a great idea to make those 2 easy clicks and re-spin the distro with the new defaults to give to friends, etc.

    In particular, defaults are very important. Ask almost anyone in the business. In fact, some put a large amount of importance on mere defaults as key contributing factor to Microsoft software’s security problems as well as to its successes.

    If it’s not important, then Ubuntu should have no problem leaving things the way they were (after all, I’m sure there is greater demand for the status quo on the default search engine that there is to change it) and those that don’t like Google or whatever can take just 2 clicks to set what they do like.

    • MinnesotaJon says:

      I get out plenty — do you? I don’t sit around obsessing about philosophical purity of my operating system.

      As you point out, “Google needs their checks and balances, but Microsoft *IS* the existing Microsoft and very possibly will be tomorrow’s Microsoft as well. Canonical should keep that in mind.” So, in reference to our original topic here, it is unlikely that Canonical will become “the New Microsoft”. Personally, I usually use Yahoo! Search specifically in order to contribute to Google’s “checks and balances”. The smaller search engines seem like a waste of time, but I do occasionally use them for a reality check.

      My opinion is that Canonical is taking Ubuntu in the direction it needs to go in order to take market share away from Microsoft on home desktops and especially in institutions and businesses. Of course, I don’t want to see Canonical setting traps for itself by getting too cozy, but if the incorporation of Mono and other “compromises” attracts software companies to port their programs to Linux, that’s good. Linux needs to be friendly to the average office worker and also be compatible with the must-have business applications like CAD/CAM, big accounting systems, etc., to really gain market share. The average office worker will never want to open Terminal to run something on the command line, as easy as that may be.

      Custom distros for people who want to stay pure seem like a good idea. However, I doubt that these will ever become the “Microsoft Killers” that we need, because purists often don’t seem interested enough in the average office worker. The average office worker sets the standard for the top end of complexity allowed in the software market.

      • Jose_X says:

        >> So, in reference to our original topic here, it is unlikely that Canonical will become “the New Microsoft”.

        I don’t think too many people are worried today about Canonical supplanting Microsoft.

        >> Personally, I usually use Yahoo! Search specifically in order to contribute to Google’s “checks and balances”.

        Unfortunately, today, using Yahoo search helps a worse company than Google. That was my point.

        >> My opinion is that Canonical is taking Ubuntu in the direction it needs to go in order to take market share away from Microsoft on home desktops and especially in institutions and businesses.

        Adding newly written mono apps to a distro, for example, does not help take away market share from Microsoft or help grow Linux market share.

        Where are the great MSdotnet apps with MS hooks that have been ported to mono/Ubuntu?

        See, for example, , for quotes on Microsoft’s embrace, extend, extinguish. [I think most people that dislike mono do so for patent reasons ]

        >> but if the incorporation of Mono and other “compromises” attracts software companies to port their programs to Linux, that’s good.

        Where are the killer MSdotnet apps that now work on Linux?

        There are important MS apps that work through wine but how about mono?

        Don’t forget that Microsoft is paying Novell a lot of money to develop and promote clones of Microsoft technology and bake in “interop”.

        If Linux has it’s own technology that works really well, that is attractive to developers. More importantly, if Linux is a better overall value and attracts enough users, the industry will come, though the “FOSS industry” is already here and improving Linux, Microsoft embraces excluded.

        >> The average office worker will never want to open Terminal to run something on the command line, as easy as that may be.

        These have absolutely nothing to do with mono or proprietary apps or Bing.

        mono will be attractive to those with dotnet experience. Fortunately, those that want to bail will find alternatives and ways to write software without including all the dotnet baggage.

        >> Custom distros for people who want to stay pure seem like a good idea.

        Custom distros are to solve problems for end users more directly, easily, fully. Linux becomes a means to an end.

        Custom distros can be very practical for personal use or for marketing purposes.

        Custom distros are unique to FOSS because of the licensing issues.

        Custom distros can be novelties and become vanity gifts.

        The custom distro is a much more powerful environment than a single or group of custom apps because you control every single app and part of the platform fully

        In general, personalizing, localizing, and packaging FOSS in a tidy, works-anywhere, share-with-anyone package is attractive and is being underleveraged today.

        But as mentioned at the beginning, custom distros allow you to address what really intrigues, bothers, etc, a well-defined body of people in a more complete fashion than you can with only controlling a few applications here or there, and they can all participate in making the platform what they want.

        Custom distros have nothing to do with dotnet or porting apps to Linux and really are much more useful with FOSS (vs proprietary apps).

        As concerns “pure”, I tend to use distros that have some “nonpure” components. My problem is with Monopolysoft.

        For a few years I used Xandros. There are numerous user friendly distros, but winning over users has more to do with a software package (there is support, marketing, etc).

        Being against Microsoft, against a nasty over-ambitious and unethical monopolist, has little to do with being “pure” and lots to do with being practical.

        Being for open source (instead of closed source) is very practical.

        Naturally, you promote where you put your dollars and time. Closed source has legs because so many dollars have been put there in the past, not because it is a better model.

        [There are many ways to make money with FOSS, but shrink-wrapped software is not one of the better ways.]

  • roqwez says:

    What?! GIMP too big and OOo is too complicated?! Im from Indonesia and i tell you what if im using MS Windows i would have MS Office and Photoshop installed, no other choice just like my dad doing, my sister, my brother, my neighbour, my former classmate, my teacher, etc. i almost never seen any alternative than those MS Office and Photoshop and why not Ubuntu with OOo and GIMP.

    When im promoting Ubuntu, this two apps are one of the main selling point period.

    i like Ubuntu, GIMP and OOo. It does make me away from using pirated software. what i can do is install Ubuntu (with GIMP and OOo) and start working, no extra work, no worries. whats wrong with this?

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