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Shuttleworth Answers Ubuntu Linux's Critics 382

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what's-in-a-name dept.
climenole writes "Technomancer wrote: 'Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu Linux's founder, maintains that he and Ubuntu are doing right by the Linux community and the even larger open-source community. In recent weeks, Ubuntu has been criticized for not giving Linux enough support. Specifically, the complains have been that Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, doesn't do enough for producing Linux source code.'"
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Shuttleworth Answers Ubuntu Linux's Critics

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  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:48PM (#33581526)
    Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that Ubuntu also has more users than those other distros combined?
  • Re:Proper link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:53PM (#33581586)

    I'm a regular Ubuntu user. I use it on 13 machines in my shop and personal life. Having it done and well integrated with easily obtainable extras makes my life much easier. From less powerful to my most powerful this product just seems to work. So, to that end I do thank Mark Shuttleworth for his efforts and I hope he realizes that he has made other's lives better.

    Not everyone contributes back to society or to the world at large in equal measure. Canonical does some things that others don't and others do what Canonical doesn't. To use code contributions to the kernel and to Gnome as a measuring stick just doesn't seem right. Let's be smart and look at the overall effect this has on the world.

    Here's to you guys.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:54PM (#33581612) Homepage Journal

    Further, it probably has the least number of technical users because it's probably the most popular "plug-and-play" (or close to it) distro there is. Thus, there may be fewer people who can trouble-shoot their own problems.

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:54PM (#33581620)
    heh I applied for a membership on the DSL fourms 4 years ago just to post a question, and have still not been approved I spent nearly an hour today on slackware trying to see what options I had with a no cd no usb boot system, finally on some 3rd party blog I found a 5 page walk though that read like Russian stereo instructions so yea they may seem to have more problems, but its honestly hard to get any other distro's to even setup a localized place to ask questions, I love it on my home machines, hm how do I do that, Oh I know... google XYZ on ubuntu and there is a half dozen threads all pointing me in the right direction and that is a good thing, no matter how much the hardcore nurds want to spin it
  • Critics are MORONS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by airfoobar (1853132) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:59PM (#33581678)

    A lot of Ubuntu's critics say what they say because they think they are "too good" for it since it comes with training wheels on. Ubuntu, being a distro, has no obligation to write source code -- that is done by thousands of programmers elsewhere, and they are doing a damn fine job. A distro is meant to package the work of those programmers in a way that people can use it without needing a CS degree, and Ubuntu is getting that right imo.

    So, the critics need to stfu and stick with their obscure distros.

    This is the "cool people" phenomenon, like we see in music. These people will go round telling everyone how much they like X niche band as long as nobody knows about it, but if/when that band becomes popular, they'll start saying "Oh, I don't like that any more!". Same here, except with niche software.

  • A solid distro (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:04PM (#33581724)
    Ubuntu is without a doubt the best distro for most users. Yeah, I know I could have more customization with Debian, yeah, I know I could be faster if I ran Gentoo, yeah, I know I could be more on the bleeding edge if I used Fedora, but when it comes down to it, Ubuntu is the best distro for most people. I -like- the fact there is a forum where I can post a question and it is answered in about 15 minutes, I like the fact I can do 99.999% of the things I need to do without using the CLI, and I like the fact that I have a lot of software in the repository.

    And the best part is there isn't really any sacrifice. Is there anything that I can't do with Ubuntu that I can do with Debian? Just because I don't have to use a CLI for everything doesn't mean I can't if I want, etc.

    Yeah, so Ubuntu doesn't have the nerd "cred" that I'd be getting if I ran Gentoo, but I have a usable system that is nearly infinitely customizable without having to sacrifice usability.
  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:05PM (#33581730)

    Blech, there's no worse "statistic" than counting the number of Google results for various terms.

    If you compare "bible" with "quran", you can see that there are about 10x the results for "bible". What does that indicate, are there 10x more Christians, or readers of the bible? You can also see that Malawi, Swaziland, Ghana, and Zimbabwe have the highest regional interest for "bible", so what can you conclude about that? Are those the most "Christian" nations? The US isn't even in the top 10, in fact all 10 are African nations. I see that Indonesia is ranked #8 for regional interest in "quran", can we conclude that Indonesia is the 8th most "Islamic" nation?

    If you went on only those numbers, you would conclude that followers of the bible greatly outnumber followers of the quran. The actual difference is about 2x, not 10x. You would also conclude that Pakistan, Gambia, and Somalia are the worlds largest Islamic countries, but the largest (by population) is Indonesia.

    Google "stats" are pretty useless.

  • by baka_toroi (1194359) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:12PM (#33581808) Journal
    Could you tell me what "training wheels" means in this context? Having a streamlined distro? Fixing bugs? I know you haven't said that, but it sounds so utterly retarded that I'm having a hard time just trying to understand the concept.
  • Re:Proper link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmansworld (950281) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:20PM (#33581848) Homepage

    So we can see the thought process here:

    Developing Linux Kernel = Valuable

    Getting Linux into users hands with convenient, easy-to-use installers, providing support, etc. = Not Valuable

    To borrow one of Shuttleworth's analogies, a brain can't function without a body to house it.

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:23PM (#33581866) Journal

    Ubuntu is a very popular Linux distro, which I can only assume is pulling quite a bit of interest to Linux. A fraction of these new Linux users are also logically speaking developers. And these would then be potential Linux contributors.

    I have a hard time seeing how spending a lot of effort into making the most popular desktop Linux distro on the market could be a bad thing even when going as specific as Linux contributions. Developers are just a subset of users! Any successful distro is a good distro for Linux, and heck, it's not even important to be successful. That's kind of what this whole open OS is about. Play around and have fun. If you're doing well too, well, that's a nice bonus for Linux!

    And Ubuntu is among those that are doing well.

  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:25PM (#33581886) Journal

    My guess is that "training wheels" means using a GUI and a mouse click to do configuration, instead of vi and editing the config file directly, then sending a SIGHUP signal to the process directly.

    Personally, I lean toward the manual editing (using nano/pico, not vi) but I mainly use Linux on servers with no GUI. For individual use, it would seem a GUI would make more sense, assuming your goal is to make it easier for more people to actually use the software.

  • by Sal Zeta (929250) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:25PM (#33581896)

    Well, neither "A Glass of Coke" is actually a recipient made of a sugar-flavoured drink. It's a common grammatical rule called Metonymy [wikipedia.org], and it's commonly used to exemplify the language to avoid excessive verbosity.

    The same could be said about the idea of prepending GNU to Linux, giving to the name the dubious function of being considered somewhat an homage or representation of the intentions of the author. Personally I'm not offended if my friends just call me "Sal" without citing everytime my father's and my grandfather's name like some aristocrat used to think. It would just make every conversation tiring, ad would give an idea of self-importance more annoying than anything else to my speaker.

  • Re:A solid distro (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:26PM (#33581902)

    I would argue that Ubuntu is great for everyone who likes the default.

  • by ksandom (718283) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:27PM (#33581908) Homepage
    I've done a little back reading on this now to see what it's all about. And all I can say is for goodness sake, don't bite the hand that gives you free stuff. Personally, I usually choose gentoo or fedora. But I still recognise the value of Ubuntu.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @07:38PM (#33581974) Homepage

    I am an old school user from the beginning with Slackware and such. I settled on Redhat because it felt the best to me. This was before Ubuntu came out and Debian was on the map but no competition yet for Redhat. (I'm sure that will be a matter of opinion for many though.) In spite of all the great things about Ubuntu, I'm stuck with Redhat because I simply know it too well. It is largely quite predictable in the way they do things and in their philosophies. That they are active contributors to the source and supporting software is nice but not the reason I continue using and supporting Redhat.

    I was dismissive of Ubuntu at first. One of the biggest turn-offs to me was the fact that nearly everyone refuses to say the name properly. (Damnit! The U makes the same sound each time! Ooo-boon-too! Why is it so frikkin hard?!) To me, that aspect alone makes me think idiots will use it. (I know I am WRONG as hell about that, but at some level, I tend to tie intelligence with linguistic skill) On top of that, I don't like the colors the defaults are using. Moreover, the naming convention? What plans have they after "Zippy Zebra?" And really? Are they intentionally copying famous comic books where the first letter of the first and last names have to be the same? (You know, like Peter Parker, Bruce Banner and all that?)

    But you will notice I make no TECHNICAL complaints about Ubuntu... (well, there is one... apparently the way they set up their Avahi daemon doesn't work well with my SME DNS server... turn that off and it works fine.) That is mostly because I don't have any.

    As far as the response of Shuttleworth? He's right on all counts. I completely agree with his responses. If any one distro helps make Linux a household word, it's Ubuntu. It's slick. It's polished. It seems to perform well everywhere I have seen it. And it is especially true about the source for information for the most solutions. It is the Ubuntu forums... good for me that I don't have much trouble translating from Ubuntu to Fedora. In some extremely important ways, Ubuntu is a huge contributor.

    If Linux is being taken more seriously by the various industries out there, you can thank Ubuntu for a big part of it.

  • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @08:36PM (#33582108) Journal
    This doesn't change the fact that WAY more people complain about ubuntu f$cking their machine than everyone else combined. For a distro that was supposed to get people "from here to there", it's not doing the job.

    This is a combination of poor targeting to your market, and poor communications of what the end user is to expect "as good as windows" (which is a lie. linux is better than windows, but it is not a drop-in replacement, and anyone who says otherwise is a troll).

    Apple doesn't market OSX as "as good as Windows". They're not stupid. The real advantages of linux are not price or as a windows replacement, and until the people who pimp ubuntu get a clue and realize that this is NOT the way to push linux, you're going to see 100x more complaints about ubuntu than about other distros.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flamekebab (873945) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:03PM (#33582166) Homepage
    I'm sure someone else will have said it, but I reckon this is one of those cases of "it can't be measured, therefore it must have no value". Ubuntu has done amazing work getting Linux more visible and better established, that alone is worth a significant amount.
  • Re:A solid distro (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cynyr (703126) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:44PM (#33582332)

    fdisk is much much faster than a gui could ever be. Same for most of the command line.

    remove "$artist - $album - " from the front of 300 mp3s using the gui sometime... it's a simple loop in bash...


    cd /Music_Dir/
    for file in $(find . -type f -print); do name=${file##*/}
            name=${name##-*}
            mv $file "${file%/*}/${name}
    done

    I'm not sure the above is space safe, but the use of -print0 and a bit more should fix that right up.

  • by xthor (625227) <xthor@xthorswoMOSCOWrld.com minus city> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:48PM (#33582342) Homepage

    on Ubuntu... it's apache2.conf.

    It's been quite a while since I was an admin in a Debian shop, but I'm pretty sure that's how it is in Debian. Which makes sense, since Ubuntu is based on Debian, right? I guess I'm sayin' it's not hard to say "the standard way" and mean "the way I'm used to doing things." I prefer Fedora since I use CentOS/RedHat on all my servers, but I don't know if their way is "the standard way" or if that's just how they do things.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:58PM (#33582378)

    What more should Ubuntu give back when it's already done a ton for Linux by --> Making People Interested in Linux

    I've stayed away from Linux for a long time and Ubuntu was the one I was willing to jump at. And I use it in my company now too. Maybe it's this or maybe it's that. Go have your Linux fan-wars somewhere else. Ubuntu is, if nothing else, a perfect stepping stone to getting people use to Linux so they can move onto other distros.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:22PM (#33582476) Homepage

    So we can see the thought process here:

    Developing Linux Kernel = Valuable

    Getting Linux into users hands with convenient, easy-to-use installers, providing support, etc. = Not Valuable

    That seems to be the gist of the article, and is one case where some members of the OSS community have really lost sight of something important: code is not the only thing projects need. It is true that Canonical hasn't done particularly much in the way of code, but it has found other ways to pull its weight, particularly in terms of user support. And pull its weight it most certainly does. Whether or not it does more than other companies, I can't say: you can't measure it like you could lines of code or number of applications. But it is grossly unfair to call it parasitic: it does things that frankly nobody else is bothering to do on the scale that Canonical does it. It has earned treatment as an equal to the more established players, even if it fulfills a very different function from them.

  • by emblemparade (774653) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:45PM (#33582614)

    Most people don't seem to understand the criticism that Shuttleworth is responding to.

    The open source community does not begrudge Ubuntu's success at all. The issue is that the Ubuntu project fixes a lot of bugs from "upstream" open source projects, but has so far done a poor job at submitting these patches back to the upstream projects.

    I can understand why this happens: It's very, very hard to manage a project as big as a complete operating system, and very, very time consuming to have to adhere to every single protocol for contributing patches to every single upstream project. If the point is to get things done for the end user, then it happens that the upstream packages lose here. And that's where the bitterness comes in: because the upstream packages don't get these patches, it means that other operating systems that use these projects don't get these patches, either. It thus seems as if Ubuntu is only patching for itself.

    I'm sure this isn't the intent, though. Some of the critics have gone a bit overboard in accusing the Ubuntu project of doing this on purpose. I think that's shortsighted and unhelpful, and that's what Shuttleworth is responding to here. Though, as eloquent as he is, he's not doing a good job in this post of addressing the critique.

    My own opinion is that the fault is not with Ubuntu, but with the staggering diversity and fragmentation of the open source world. It's hard enough to create a distribution that consumes all these projects, to produce back to them is monumentally hard.

    What should be done is create a more uniform way for projects to receive patches. Perhaps a central repository where these patches could be places, and project maintainers can pull these from and merge in, if they think it's appropriate.

    Fat change this will happen? Maybe, maybe not. I'm very impressed by Ubuntu's leadership in getting the open source world to think more about diverse end users. I think there's an opportunity to use this leadership to try to create a more streamlines path for "upstream" contribution. Projects would benefit from bug fixes and patches, other operating systems will benefit, and everybody will just be so happy forever.

  • by Cylix (55374) * on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:10PM (#33582748) Homepage Journal

    You want a non-standard install on a no usb and no cdrom system and you wonder why you have issues finding help.

    At that point you are far into the realm of advance because you have to use an alternate means such as staging the contents on disk or using a pxe based install. The latter isn't terribly difficult if you haven't done it before, but the first time setup isn't for the novice.

    That is a really awful example of a problem solving situation.

    With that said it is very unlikely that you need a distribution specific solution. There are many differences between distributions, but I have had little issue navigating the various system types. The exception for myself being Gentoo which made me do a triple take when reconfiguring some very legacy host I once found hiding in a rack.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:25PM (#33582862)

    That is why I left Ubuntu. I game a lot on my PC, and I couldn't stand PulseAudio. I don't give a rat's behind about slinging audio over the network, or bluetooth support. I just want the sound to come out of the speakers ASAP with low resource usage. Debian is my new distro of choice. For a time, I contemplated just going back to Winflaws, but then I had to re-install XP on another box the other day and I was reminded how MS treats it's customers like ****.

    That said, even if they made PulseAudio an option (rather than a requirement) in Ubuntu, I doubt I would go back. I generally prefer a compact system with as few unnecessary things running as possible. My debian installs use much less memory because of it.

    I guess Ubuntu and I have gone in different directions over the past 5 years.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Myopic (18616) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:27PM (#33582870)

    Without attempting to establish equality, let's just say both of those are essential.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:47PM (#33583012)
    To be fair, unlike those other fights, Protestants versus Catholics is a pretty important one. Religion as we know it, at least in the Christian parts, was seriously shaken up by the reformation. Even the Catholic church which insists upon being the one true Christian faith, was forced to make serious changes some of which are still being debated nearly 500 years later.
  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:55PM (#33583068)

    An engineering project that can't be sold is just a project.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:36AM (#33583320) Homepage Journal

    About a year ago I upgraded my synaptic (the only user-friendly package manager I know so far). Turns out that the Debian guys missed a critical flaw which made Synaptic crash when loading the repos. Downgrading synaptic using command-line tools was a royal pain in the ass. That's the kind of errors that I hate, and the guys criticizing Ubuntu are much more prone to commit them.

    While I don't like Ubuntu myself (for some glitches I've experienced - ironically, in the user-friendliness area), I do agree that it has set the bar on user-friendliness. More user-friendly = more popular. More popular = more pressure on the devs to write software that just works.

    As an example, I'll use Mepis 8.5 - it's being released with the latest version of KDE. Well guess what, the installation screen is quite unusable if you have an nVidia video card. You're stuck at 640x480 (or 800x600 if you're lucky), and the installation screens are clipped. Sure, you can install the drivers in RAM, but then you have to reboot. DOH. All installed drivers vanish. Another problem that could be solved with community support.

    With more community support, these problems will go again after the devs realize that the world they're writing software for is NOT a world filled with closets stacked with old network cards, cables, old consoles, a hard disk full of debugging and developing software and regexp cheat sheets stappled on a nearby wall.

    As much as it hurts, the devs need to get off their clouds, open their eyes and see that the people who use distros like Ubuntu are people who have a life - ok, a busy life - and don't have the resources, the time, nor the brains to solve those pesky problems.

    I still remember the days where one had to edit the xfree86 .conf file by hand after following a series of instructions. I sincerely hope those days don't ever come back again.

  • by judeancodersfront (1760122) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:43AM (#33583352)
    It isn't a community developed distro, they accept outside help but the direction of the distro is set entirely by Shuttleworth

    Just look at what happened when he moved the buttons to the left and the community protested. Did he care? Not at all, the left side buttons are part of his plan to copy OSX.

    Shuttleworth talks about the contributions of others but doesn't use the word 'linux' once on the Ubuntu home page. He wants to make an OSX clone and then keep all that nerdy Linux stuff in the basement.
  • Re:Proper link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:46AM (#33583362) Homepage Journal

    An engineering project that can't be sold is just a project.

    You hit the nail on the head. I've recently been promoted to a more bureaucratic place at my company, and I've come to realize that a lot of things I considered of uttermost importance in software development were not as crucial as I thought. Now, I'm not saying they're not necessary. But I overestimated them. Also, I've learned that it's the sales department which makes the companies earn their income. No income, no salaries. No salaries, no employees.

    Linux devs who have never understood the management and marketing side of companies, simply lack the vision needed to improve and promote the kernel/OS they love so much.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:14AM (#33583676) Homepage

    Linux is GPL licensed.
    Ubuntu is using Linux according to the GPL license.
    If the developers didn't want this to happen, they shouldn't have used the GPL license.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by walshy007 (906710) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @04:17AM (#33584116)

    Besides Cannonical/Ubuntu went out of their way to give anyone a ISO file

    Everyone gave iso files, but ubuntu marketing did one better, they sent you actual discs with art by the bucket load. I have around 25 of the 2005 first release of ubuntu, they formerly sent heaps to anyone that wanted them. Being a linux guy I gave them to a heap of people to get them on to linux.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by walshy007 (906710) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @04:20AM (#33584130)

    Or it is entirely possible that the devs conclude it suits their needs, and the needs of their clients and don't really care what other random people think of it.

    Linux doesn't need to take over the world (as nice as that would be) it only needs to be good enough for your own uses for it to be of utility for yourself.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cruciform (42896) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @04:50AM (#33584232) Homepage

    The Protestant/Catholic argument has no more point than the others, religious or not.
    Some people consider it important because they believe a magical sky fairy is going to invite them to their own little kingdom when they die.
    That doesn't make the argument important. Only dealing with the fallout that such nonsense leads to.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @05:01AM (#33584254)

    The contribution is not the problem. The problem is the Canonical and Ubuntu steals credit from those who actually contributes to software what Canonical simply use but does not develop.

    Open Source is about credit and if someone has not yet known, the GPL is about copyright, not about free price. Without copyright, GPL is nothing.

    And Open Source is about credit and fame for those who does job. People do not care do they get paid from the code what they give freely away, but that they get the small credit from it as back (nothing big) and later they can get even better jobs or get new features what others have developed by using the work.

    Canonical and Ubuntu are fame thiefs. "Uuuh... look how great and powerfull OS we have developed!" And no words from that Ubuntu is just a Linux distribution and the Linux kernel is the operating system in the Ubuntu. "Uuuh.... Ubuntu promise the software will always be free".... Ubuntu promise nothing, it is the GPL and other licenses what garantees that promise.
    "Uuuh... Ubuntu philosophy is that software should be free". Bullshit, it is the GNU philosophy, and even that Canonical did steal and presents it as own. Ubuntu (the african meaning) has nothing to do with the software. It is just about hospitality. GNU is about software and its freedom.

    Ubuntu fans are the biggest problem what gives the credit to Ubuntu and Canonical from things what those did not have nothing to do in the first place. Ubuntu fans builds a reality distortion field what covers Ubuntu community so they are totally blind about true open source community.

  • Re:Proper link (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @05:38AM (#33584400) Homepage

    The Ubuntu folks seemed actually far more enthusiastic about drumming up COMMUNITY support

    Bingo. I've been using and developing on UNIX and then Linux for close on to twenty years now, and I now choose to use Ubuntu on my home machines because of one thing and one thing only: the Ubuntu community forums. It's the first UNIX/Linux forum that I've ever used where the default answer to any question isn't "I'm far to busy to answer this. You've got the source, debug it yourself, noob". More often than not, there are actually answers to the questions!

    Linux for Human Beings is exactly the right note to strike. Ubuntu 9.10 was the first distro that I've ever recommended to non-techie friends and family as a realistic substitute for Windows or MacOS. Linux has been ready for the desktop for years, but Ubuntu is the first distro that actually presents it in a way that makes it palatable.

  • by emblemparade (774653) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:29AM (#33587774)

    You are wrong. The core OS packages do come from Debian, but many major packages are maintained by Ubuntu for Ubuntu. Even the kernels are Ubuntu-specific. (Though the Debian project has done the initial work in packaging them for the Debian build system, which Ubuntu uses -- and "packaging" is not a trivial task.)

    You can argue that these small changes that Ubuntu makes are small compared to the bulk of the work that the Debian project has done. In fact, that was a common critique of Ubuntu when it started.

    I think it's a separate critique from what Shuttleworth is responding to here, but it is related in the sense that the critics in both cases are underestimating both the importance and the size of the task that the Ubuntu project is taking on. They imply that Ubuntu is just adding some pretty little bells and whistles to "market" and get credit for (see the Slashdot comments here!) the real hard programming and administrative work that others have done, and is selfishly keeping this "marketing" stuff for itself to further this selfish goal.

    So, the response is twofold:

    1) The critics do not understand just how much work is involved in the "bells and whistles". Implementing a color scheme, editing and translating documentation, fixing a usability issue, adding accessibility controls, responding to newb questions in forums -- ends up taking as many man hours as optimizing an algorithm or fixing a security bug. It might not earn you as much geek credit, but it's challenging, important, and rewarding work in its own right.

    2) The critics do not understand how hard it is to follow the patching and quality assurance protocols of so many upstream packages. Doing so fully would easily double the man hours counted up in step #1. (The GNOME project has an especially difficult process.)

    In my opinion, #1 is a dying issue. Shuttleworth has done a great job at getting respect for the "non-tech" aspects of open source and the people who work on it. But #2 remains a point of contention, and it's not one that Shuttleworth has addressed quite convincingly enough yet.

  • Re: Your sig (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:40PM (#33590898)

    Who says you can't be both?

    Use a compiler to check the spelling in your programs.

    Use a dictionary to check the spelling in your posts.

    I don't understand how you can be in programming (where every character counts) and not be good at spelling. I don't understand how you can be a developer or designer and not be good at grammar and other language rules. There are patterns to both.

    When I retire from being a developer and architect, I'll give the Great American novel a go. I, for one, can get both sorts of spelling right. And English isn't my first language. Go figure.

    Now get off my lawn.

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