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Is Ubuntu Selling Out or Growing Up? 345

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the six-of-one dept.
AlexGr notes an article by Jeff Gould where he says " Sometimes I wonder whether Ubuntu is really an open source software company any more. Yes, yes, I realize Ubuntu is not a company at all but a free Linux distribution, GPL'd and open source by definition. But still, the Ubuntu distro is sponsored by a traditional for-profit company. The answer that has recently emerged to this question is, "yes and no." Yes, of course, because Ubuntu's web site promises that the distro "will always be free of charge, including enterprise releases and security updates." But Ubuntu the enterprise ecosystem — understood as the collection of desktops and servers running Ubuntu in a given organization — is not."
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Is Ubuntu Selling Out or Growing Up?

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:19PM (#23255536)
    Since Canonical is a for-profit company, this raises an interesting question. Namely, how exactly are they making money? Their wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] only indicates a couple of minor proprietary products, neither of which I've ever even heard of. Is this one of those internet boom style companies that only makes money in theory, or do they actually have an income source?
    • by wild_quinine (998562) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:30PM (#23255712) Homepage

      Is this one of those internet boom style companies that only makes money in theory, or do they actually have an income source?
      They've figured out a way to power light aircraft using only the condensed ire of militant slackware users.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:33PM (#23255780) Journal
      Software as a service style support [canonical.com]. There's their pricing. They also have a merchandise store. This is just like RedHat's model, what's so surprising? Also, Shuttleworth chucked a ton of change at them initially if my memory serves correctly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by IntlHarvester (11985) *
        Its also worth noting that it took 10 years for RedHat to establish themselves as a top-tier enterprise vendor. So even if Canonical isn't doing much significant now, IMO they are preparing the groundwork for a real revenue stream and probably an IPO.

        (While RH sold boxed distros for the longest time, it was more to build name recognition. They never really made money until they switched to the subscription model.)
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          With Redhat having proven that a Linux support company can stay the distance and make money it should be easier for Canonical to do the same.

    • by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:34PM (#23255796)
      The summary asserts that Canonical is a "traditional for-profit company," but the Wikipedia entry you point to paints a picture of a company that is not traditional. For example, it says the company was created for the purpose of promoting free software products. I don't really see anything traditional about that.

      As for how they make their money, I think they primarily earn revenue by selling support for Ubuntu. You know, so, like, a business installs Ubuntu on its servers or on a bunch of desktops or something, they can purchase a support agreement for those computers from Canonical.
      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:53PM (#23256136) Journal
        It's really funny, this whole selling out business.

        When I first started using Linux, I used Debian because of apt and because the ideology appealed to me. Then I immediately started making compromises in the name of getting shit done and having a difficult time installing and maintaining those compromises.

        Ubuntu lets me make the choice to sell out in the name of getting shit done. Through the restricted and multiverse repositories, it makes it easy to do so. But it also lets me see exactly where I'm doing so, and makes it easy to stop doing so if I should wish, though of course not without consequences.

        People who wish to be uncompromising in their principles or need the capacity to roll out systems with the confidence that they are not legally encumbered can do so, while people who respect the ideals but are ready to compromise can do so with foreknowledge and a minimum of fuss.

        This is showing a great deal of respect for the positions of a great many users and would-be users.
        • by Kjella (173770)

          Ubuntu lets me make the choice to sell out in the name of getting shit done.

          To me it's a bit so that in order to sell something out, you must have been there in the first place. I think I speak for about 99% of all computer users when I say that we weren't raised on free and sold out to semi-free, we grew up on DOS, Windows, MacOS, OS/2, AmigaOS and the like. To the vast, vast majority of people the alternative is their full-proprietary desktop and Ubuntu+restricted+multiverse+other "ugly" repos is a half-full glass rather than a half-empty glass. Most of you are supposed to be IT

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @05:28PM (#23256622) Homepage Journal
      From the summary:

      But Ubuntu the enterprise ecosystem â" understood as the collection of desktops and servers running Ubuntu in a given organization â" is not.
      "Is not"... What?

      Canonical sells tech support for people and companies that want to use its freely available distro. And that makes them bad.. how exactly?

      I've managed to use Ubuntu (studio) for a couple of years now, and I've never needed any help beyond the Ubuntu users' forum (which didn't cost me a cent). If this is Canonical's insidious plan to enrich themselves outrageously, I don't think it's such a good one.

      It's possible to have a successful company, and make a profit and create some jobs and not have to be rapacious and crave endless and metastasizing growth. But rather, "just do well". Be successful, pay the bills, pay the salaries, and leave something behind.

      I think it makes them exactly what business ought to be, and was before the VC-craze turned every other MBA into the business equivalent of malignant melanoma.
    • by raddan (519638)

      Since Canonical is a for-profit company, this raises an interesting question. Namely, how exactly are they making money?
      Easy: support. Software is free, but you need to pay if you want help. I don't see anything wrong with this, especially since it removes the desirability of keeping your customers on an upgrade treadmill. In my experience with so-called "enterprise" systems, the support contracts really are often worth it.
    • by sgant (178166)
      I'm a little confused, isn't Ubuntu just another Debian distro?

      Now, I'm a little dumb and all, but I thought that Ubuntu was just Debian with a great install and update system...but everything on it is all in Debian, yes? So if you install this, you have a Debian install, right?
      • It's based on Debian, yes, but it uses its own repositories instead of Debian's. In general, Ubuntu will have newer versions of software. For a typical desktop computer at home, this is a good thing, though a lot of people would rather stay with versions that are a few years old for high-availability production servers.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          That is false. There is no such thing as Debian. Its Debian Stable, or Debian Testing, or Debian Unstable (and even Debian Experimental if you count the repos).

          Many people who use Debian for a personal system, tend to run Debian Testing. A somewhat smaller number run Debian Unstable. Only servers and people with such mission critical needs use Debian Stable.

          Ubuntu is a six monthly freeze snapshot of Debian Unstable. They freeze it, fix bugs in it, put the bugfixes upstream and then release it.

          So, it isn't n
    • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @09:23PM (#23258868)
      Canonical was founded by the billionaire Mark Shuttleworth.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Shuttleworth [wikipedia.org]

      He's basically putting up all the money for the operation on the vague hope that it will pay off someday. They really don't have a business model, just a really generous investor/CEO.

      So... it's basically a charity based operating system.

      Which raise the point, why is this douchebag
      http://www.interopnews.com/news/is-ubuntu-selling-out-or-growing-up.html [interopnews.com]
      writing an article about how the company is "selling out" by making some very small moves to make money off of an operating system they spend large amounts of money on, and give away for free?

      It kind of pisses me off that random internet idiots who don't make software for a living call anyone who tries to a "sellout."

      The article mentions that they are trying to recoup a small amount of the money they are dumping into Canonical by selling some proprietary software.

      So what? I'm sick and tired of internet morons tearing apart people that actually have to work for a living. It's not enough that they give away most of their software for free and under an open source license, but if they charge for *anything*, if you develop one line of proprietary code and sell it to make a buck, some random jerkoff will mouth off at you about how "software wants to be free," and you're "oppressing" them with your price tag and your non-gpl license.

      Free software isn't a business model. None of the distros that don't make you pay money *per install* make any money. Canonical loses money, Suse loses money. The only people who make money making operating systems do so by selling some proprietary code, or (as with red hat) devising schemes to make people pay money for shrink wrapped copies of open source code. Ubuntu has by far taken the least obnoxious approach, i.e. giving away most of their software, and letting you use their repository for free updates (which others don't do), but developing some proprietary stuff they let you buy separately.
  • by Sique (173459) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:19PM (#23255538) Homepage
    Nowhere the GPL forbids making a profit from GPLled software, as long as you adhere to the conditions of the GPL.
    • by Otter (3800)
      And while I can see some random journalist not understanding that, surely CmdrTaco, of all people, does...?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ossifer (703813)
      Yes... exactly...

      WILL THE PUNDITS OF THE WORLD PLEASE STOP EQUATING "OPEN SOURCE" WITH "COMMUNISM"!!!

      (and yes, I am intentionally shouting--I don't even own a "caps lock" key, <adding some filler here to get past the lameness filter...>)

    • The problem is (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:38PM (#23255850)
      That a non-trivial amount of free software users claim they care about "Free as in speech" but really want "Free as in can I crash on your couch?" There is a mentality among people like this that free software CAN'T cost money, and that for-profit operations are bad and such.

      I think it is one of the problem OSS faces in terms of getting more companies to adopt that style. For every person that is actually honest about simply wanting the freedom to modify their software, but being perfectly ok with still paying for it, it seems there is at least one person who just wants a free lunch, and only spouts OSS dogma because they believe it'll lead to them getting more for free.
      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        it seems there is at least one person who just wants a free lunch
        This person just has a louder voice then the 10 guys behind him that think the opposite.
      • by thermian (1267986)
        That a non-trivial amount of free software users claim they care about "Free as in speech" but really want "Free as in can I crash on your couch?"

        Indeed. I got into an exchange with a guy via email a few years back about my open source software because he wanted a user manual for it, and I couldn't do one as fast as he wanted.

        The thing was, he didn't seem to grasp that I was too busy, and as he wouldn't be paying for it (I didn't ask, but he never offered), I was pretty much free to set my own timetable for
        • Thinking of free software and not-as-free manuals brings to mind David Harris' now abandoned Pegasus Mail. He made his living entirely from the optional manuals. FWIW, I always wondered if he abandoned his product because he saw how the spammers were abusing it...

          I have been known to register a free product to not only support it but to also get a shiney printed manual. It seems that manuals are a logical area to offer a pay-for upgrade while still having a free base product. Maybe Canonical could so
    • if people didn't make a profit from OSS, then htf would it exist. Please point me to an industry that exists without somebody making money.
      • Non-profits and/or charities? Granted they're funded by people who do make money doing something else.
    • by opus (543) *
      Yet Mr. Gould thinks it's an "Orwellian contradiction" to charge people to work on the software distribution that you gave them for free. He must be new to technology blogging... or maybe, he figured out that being a tech troll is easier and more profitable than real technology analysis.

    • by Kjella (173770)
      Which is rather weak since your customers can repackage and redistribute it. But what it definately doesn't say anything about is making money around the product. Look to the support/consulting/outsourcing/software-as-a-service world, how many live off implementing others' products, training other companies' users, administrating other people's networks and so on. There are many making good money off Microsoft products without being Microsoft, and if they went beserk and GPL'd Windows tomorrow those places
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:21PM (#23255574)
    Don't use an Intel or AMD CPU. The schematics of those CPUs are not Open. Nor is the schematic diagram of your motherboard, monitor etc.

    But you're right to focus on those Canonical bastards. They don't even post all their bank account and password details!

    • by jedidiah (1196)
      The interfaces are open.

      That's enough to allow for a cloned AMD or Intel CPU if you were so inclined.

      Infact, this is why there is an AMD.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:22PM (#23255594)
    Shuttleworth has never pretended Ubuntu was purely about being nice to the community - he always planned that one day it would bring some money in.

    It follows that Canonincal has to offer something that they charge for. And seeing as they've pledged that the distribution itself remains free, it makes sense that the things they charge for are the kind of things a business might need and might be prepared to pay for - support and bells and whistles that aren't in the free version and frankly aren't terribly relevant to the individual with one or two systems.
  • Open Source isn't some hippy anti-capitalist religion. Its a way of doing business. If you alienate or disqualify companies who want to make a profit from being "true open source" then I and many like me will have to go back to releasing proprietary software only. What pap! When people like this get to air their views, this whole free speech and the internet thing have gone too far.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      Its a way of doing business

      It can be a way of doing business, but it isn't some corporonazi mammon worshiping religion, either. Open source simply does what you need it to do the way you want it to do what you want. If you want to use it for business, it can be used for that. If you want to simply give, it can be used for that as well.

      And I though vi vs emacs was bad...

      this whole free speech and the internet thing have gone too far.

      I'll leave it to the younger slashdotters to flame you for that particular p
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)

      When people like this get to air their views, this whole free speech and the internet thing have gone too far.

      Suck it up. Freedom is nearly a religion to me, and one of my highest values is that random jackasses get to say things I disagree with. How about this next time someone riles you: don't listen to them. They have as much right to be as vocally wrong as you do.

  • Free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:26PM (#23255664) Homepage Journal
    Does the submitter of this story understand the distinction between free as in beer, and free as in speech?

    They are questioning whether or not Ubuntu classifies as open source, because the parent company might want to make money. The entire preposition here is flawed and silly.
    • by sabaco (92171)

      Does the submitter of this story understand the distinction between free as in beer, and free as in speech?

      The answer that has recently emerged to this question is, "yes and no."

      :)

  • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:31PM (#23255738)
    It takes the author quite awhile to get to his point about the greater Ubuntu ecosystem being non-free. His point is:

    Canonical has introduced a new twist into the Ubuntu business model with the launch of its Landscape systems management and monitoring tool. Basically Landscape is very similar to Red Hat Network. It allows you to track the configurations and status of all your Ubuntu desktops and servers, and to install updates under central control (though with full customization options). And the catch is? This is completely proprietary code. It's not GPL'd, you can't see the source, and you can't get it for free. In fact, you can't even have the binary, because Landscape is provided as an online service only. Only the Landscape client is free and open source, which it has to be of course because it cohabits physically with the kernel on each of your Ubuntu machines.
    (emphasis added)

    So his complaint amounts to: "Sure they give you the source code for all distributed binaries, but they don't give you the source code for a subscription-based online service that they run."

    For those of us who believe in software freedom, the question is really "does software freedom extend to web services?" Is providing someone with a web service akin to providing them with a binary? That is, you should give them access to the source code (where I'm using "should" as shorthand for "it's the free software thing to do").

    The fact is that this is a point of contention in the community. It was debated considerably during the writing of GPLv3. Both sides have valid points: on the one hand, an online service isn't distributing software to end-users. On the other hand, this may be a "loophole" that allows companies to modify free software, but deny the eventual users of that software the ability to use the changes or further modify the code.

    The author was inherently assuming that not providing code for web services was non-free. But really that's an unfinished debate, and he should have pointed out the nuances.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dave1791 (315728)
      Thank You.

      I got about 1/3 of the way through TFA, mentally tagged it as BS and came back to watch the fireforks. I never got to the quoted part and I missed the point of the article.

      And this is indeed an interesting debate for me as I'm in an GPL'd code project that could be monetized with an optional web service. /goes back to finish reading TFA with fresh eyes.
    • The author was inherently assuming that not providing code for web services was non-free. But really that's an unfinished debate, and he should have pointed out the nuances.

      Actually this debate was finally settled in what is now called "the Massachusetts Beer Party of 2008". During which it was agreed that not providing code for web services is still considered "free" so long as you provide Richard Stallman (and the software's author(s) - which was included as an amendment after 3 hours of lengthy debate) w
    • by Hatta (162192)
      A key part of that quote is:

      Only the Landscape client is free and open source, which it has to be of course because it cohabits physically with the kernel on each of your Ubuntu machines.


      Which is, of course, pure unadulterated bullshit. There's nothing that prevents anyone from running closed source code on an open source kernel.

      That right there is proof enough that the author has absolutely no idea what he's talking about.
  • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:31PM (#23255744) Journal
    An open source project having roots in a for-profit company is not a problem.

    If they start data-mining Ubuntu computers for profit or something just as devious - THAT's a problem.
    I'm going to use Ubuntu as long as it remains free of evil and cost. If one of those changes, I'll move along to a different distro, but as long as they have the most easy to use open-source desktop environment and continue to develop this project as quickly and as beautifully as they are I'll continue to use it - simple as that.
    • I just tried 'apt-get install evil'. The closed it could come up with was 'evilwm', which is apparently a window manager.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by theantipop (803016)

      If they start data-mining Ubuntu computers for profit or something just as devious - THAT's a problem.
      Well, Ubuntu does do this (to perform usability/popularity testing), but it asks nicely and is not the default option.
  • I RTFA, and I think this guy is an idiot. The method Canonical wants to use to make money is pretty much the method I hear OSS people talk about all the time -- selling support, as opposed to product.

    But then I got to wondering -- who is this tool? There's no Wikipedia entry for him, and googling doesn't really produce anything helpful. So should the title of the /. post be "Some random tool thinks Ubuntu isn't OSS"?
    • I googled 'Jeff Gould Peerstone Research' (minus the single quotes) and found:
      http://www.glgroup.com/Council-Member/Jeff-Gould-110923.html [glgroup.com]

      CEO
      Peerstone Research
      Member of the Technology Council
      Jeff Gould is the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Research at Peerstone Research. He produces primary research and independent analysis focused on enterprise applications software, middleware software and server hardware.

      Mr. Gould uses proprietary primary research to identify and quantify the impact of emerging
  • The free community support is on par, if not better than many of the other free distros, not commercially backed. Just because they offer commercial support, it is no reflection on the distro itself, and just because they offer products like Landscape it again doesn't really mean much.

    It's not like Suse or Redhat that have (or had) significant differences between the free and commercial versions of their products.

    If you never talk to Canonical, or give them a penny, you will still have a completely open, fr
    • What a rediculous article

      It's not only diculous, it's re-diculous!

      They must really feel the ridicule, I guess.
  • If you choose to pay for support then you get support AND you get to use proprietary software to manage your servers. Just because they make Ubuntu free they should also make their specialized software free too? That's like getting a free car then complaining when you have to pay for gas.

    They have to make money somewhere. Everyone knows Ubuntu is free because it's a hook to get companies, eventually, to sign up for support. So what?
  • Let me be the first to ask the submitter: What are you talking about Willis? Put down the hashpipe, get out of your parent's basement for a spell, enjoy the fresh air and learn about products vs. companies.
    • by sayfawa (1099071)
      Would I be called a grammar nazi if it's my correction that contains improper english?

      It's "whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis". And, if possible, there should be some indication that the phrase is spoken in a comically low tone.
  • by nurb432 (527695)
    They are growing up, and selling out in the process.
  • After reading the article, it appears that his gripe is that Canonical has a closed-source proprietary systems management function that you have to pay for if you want to use it. Oh, the horror! They actually want to make money, and even worse, aren't a "pure" open-source company!

    Maybe I'm unusual for thinking this, but if you're going to have a support personnel and professional programmers on staff, it follows that you need a revenue stream, since most of them are real big on getting paid. There is no

  • A large part of the FOSS movement is about making money. The FOSS philosophy posits that freely distributing code and encourage others to share and share alike creates more value than closing it off and slapping a price tag on the bits. While "everyone can review and modify sourcecode" is true in principle--not everyone has the knowledge or desire to do so and are willing to pay people to modify code how they want it.

    Also, enterprise customers want support contracts and they'll pay quite a lot for that.

  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @04:39PM (#23255874) Homepage
    I wish I could mod the submission down as troll.
  • The author of this article is basing his entire argument on the assumption that Ubuntu and Canonical are the same. He creates this assumption early on by saying that Canonical owns the rights to the name, and offers support contracts. Therefore, Ubuntu is Canonical. He then points out that Canonical is not purely open source, as they produce some proprietary software and charge for it. His argument is NOT that because Canonical tries to make money, that they aren't open source. Making money has nothing
  • by ickoonite (639305)
    For fuck's sake. It's never good enough, is it? Like the binary drivers thing or countless other trifling irrelevancies before it, this is a classic example of why open source has as many detractors as it does supporters â" the polarising ideology of its most ardent supporters. To these types, if you are not with them, you are against them, an open source hater and betrayer of the cause.

    But seriously â" let's look at Ubuntu for a moment. It's one of the freest and most principled distributions o
  • Kill this guys Dog or something?

    Call me crazy, but I regard for-profit organization initially not with hatred, but suspicion and skepticism. Here we have Canonical, they support Ubuntu, which I and many other people enjoy and like. Shouldn't that be worth some moral credit? Have they done something horrible and evil that outweighs the good of supporting Ubuntu?

    Don't get me wrong, I hate Microsoft, but I hate them for REASONS. Namely, they're products aren't very good and are often very bad, they

  • Or there'll be no OSS?
  • I don't want to RTFA because it seems the summary ...well, summarizes it all.

    There's nothing wrong with trying to make money off of F/OSS software. In reality, here on Earth, people need to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Ubuntu is embracing a very unique model in that they give away software, and even hire coders to work on the software they give back to the community. Who cares if they charge for support? There is still a HUGE, FREE community backing it. You don't have to pay Canonical for su
  • And I don't mean "free as in speech", I mean "free as in he's wearing out his keyboard but nothing of meaning comes out". There's no problem stated, as a result there's no conclusions, there's only a badly disguised attempt at trolling, which I even doubt is fully intentional and conscious.
  • You type an address, they mail you a stack of CDs - High quality OS, Applications, web based updates - And THEY PAY FOR SHIPPING. Not a single Virus, malware, trojan etc., How much more FREE can anything get?
  • by lewp (95638) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @05:23PM (#23256560) Journal
    I don't even use Ubuntu, but this guy appears to be saying that they're not "open source" because they try to make money off support and don't give away the server side of their RHN-style web service. Really? So the two vectors through which open source companies are "supposed" to make money (support and value-adds) are no longer acceptable either? Fuck off.
  • Ubuntu is good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @05:27PM (#23256602)
    The whole "Yes and no" of Ubuntu is what attracts mainstream users who use Linux not because of pragmatic decisions but because it is the best tool. Ubuntu is taking the best of open source and filling the gaps where open source simply is not for whatever reason. I am a person who praises Debian for sticking to fundamentals and I'm glad it's there, but open source on the desktop is a bit of a chicken and egg thing. Ubuntu is advertising the possibilities of open source to people who don't care about those fundamentals and just want to use their computer. These newcomers to open source don't quite know how to perceive the benefits of open source, and once they start using it for other reasons, they begin to see these benefits in real world every day use in the way that they wouldn't see it by observing the dogma. If these people wouldn't use open source before because they were missing a few pieces where they don't want to shell out extra money for more compatible hardware or take the time to figure out a few workarounds. When they come to see the benefits of open source then they will realize that Ubuntu is using proprietary bits as a workaround in order to make it easier for them, and they will come to see how the proprietary bits are actually holding them back from certain things. Then they will make up their minds, and that's fair enough I think. Ubuntu can be run without any proprietary parts, and since Ubuntu's increased popularity there have been more eyes on open source. The people who appreciate open source fundamentals are not going away or changing their minds, and the hard core floss idealists are not going to budge anyway. Do we really have to mark Ubuntu as evil, or can't we simply acknowledge it as another approach? I don't believe Ubuntu is taking anything away from open source. If that changes then we'll be more ready to deal with it, as more people will be more intimately familiar with open source, and that means they'll be in a better position to deal with it.
  • Sorry, but I think it is high time that Taco and other editors did not pass this idiotic pseudo articles to the wider readership.

    Anybody that starts with a premise stating that open source and making money are contradictory should no longer be allowed to spread his ignorance.
  • I think you're confusing selling out with being successful.
  • by pugugly (152978) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @06:13PM (#23257104)
    I also think he is overselling that point.

    The point that Canonical tries to have it both ways - that (despite the clarity in distinguishing them in the OS) it isn't entirely opensource in practice, but it wants to act as if it were to market itself to opensource advocates - well, he has a valid point.

    That said - it is, essentially, calling them on a marketing decision. Fair enough - they are allowed to make a marketing decision which is deceptive without being dishonest, he is allowed to call them on it.

    But saying that they have a product which is not open source, and that in turn means they're selling out? Umm - no. Maybe it means they are not pure of heart and soul, but I'm okay with that. Most companies that support opensource aren't doing out of some deep, abiding divine spark. I seem to recall IBM has one or two closed source products lying around somewhere - .

    There *is* a dichotomy between making opensource products and making a sell-able product, and I haven't seen a good way to make a profit *just* selling a useful product as open source yet, without incurring some kind of subscription based support service for it.

    If someone can come up with a way to make GPL'd open source product so well made it doesn't *need* support, and still manage to sell the darn thing and make money at it, they will resolve this dichotomy. I'm not sure I see how to do it (yet), but it seems to me to be the problem that needs resolved.

    Pug
  • I described the effect which here is just beginning, in a recent post, and others indicated that Ubuntu was a likely candidate. When something is an underdog, people flock to it. When it then becomes "big" they start to turn on it. This is the first step: raising the question. People may react to that and stop believing it to be such a good thing, or if it continues to gain momentum, will become actively hostile. In the referenced posts, we talk about software. But I've seen the same reactions in people who
  • Follow the money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eddy the lip (20794) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @07:11PM (#23257766)
    For god's sake.

    One of the reasons Shuttleworth founded Canonical was to fund Ubuntu. He tossed enough cash at the Ubuntu Foundation ($USD10 million) to make sure it would be viable for a good long time. He's smart enough to want to make sure Ubuntu keeps being funded, so he made sure there would be a steady stream of income.

    He also founded the Shuttleworth Foundation, which is focused on education. One of the things you need for that in this day and age is....computers. If you don't want your child's education to be held hostage by a for-profit corporation, one of the things you need is a free-as-in-speech operating system to run all your important education software on.

    Does anyone seriously think setting up this particular chain is an accident? An education foundation that emphasizes the need for Free software, a user-friendly Linux distribution, and a revenue source?

    I'm as skeptical as the next guy, but Shuttleworth comes off as some kind of Heinlein-esque hero.

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