Does the Ubuntu Community need a Foundation?

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There has been a lot of talk lately about people leaving the Ubuntu Community and people disappointed with the direction Canonical is taking with the Ubuntu Community. Mainly how announcements are being handed down with little or no comments from community contributors.

The thing that I wonder is why have we as a Community not asked the most simple question which is why has the Ubuntu Foundation not been made a reality? Think how many Open Source projects of Ubuntu’s size that have been able to keep their values intact and co-exist with a corporate financial backer running the show? I can’t think of any off the top of my head… MySQL? OpenOffice? Exactly.

You know Matt Mullenweg had this crazy notion when he created Automattic and WordPress that he envisioned a structure where for-profit, non-profit, and not-just-for-profit could coexist and balance each other out which seems to not be what’s happening in the case of Ubuntu Community and Canonical.

Matt Mullenweg cared so much about the WordPress Community that his company gave the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation to ensure a balance coexistence that would allow the WordPress Community to thrive while allowing Automattic to pursue its business.

So why can’t Ubuntu have that same balance? Canonical could form the Ubuntu Foundation and transfer the Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu et al trademarks to the Ubuntu Foundation under the condition that the foundation give Canonical a perpetual royalty free license. Canonical had promised a foundation but never followed through.

This would allow the hypothetical foundation to preserve events like UDS by fundraising them by accepting donations and selling swag and would allow Canonical to continue its business goals without impacting the community.

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What does Canonical have to lose? Automattic didn’t lose anything in fact its business has grown and so has the WordPress Community.

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Benjamin Kerensa is an Ubuntu Developer, Open Source Evangelist and Mozilla Contributor who lives in Portland, Oregon.

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