In an encouraging and refreshing move, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu and Canonical has apologized for calling Mir opponents the “open source tea party”.
Shuttleworth wrote in a blog post:
On another, more personal note, I made a mistake myself when I used the label “open source tea party” to refer to the vocal non-technical critics of work that Canonical does. That was unnecessary and quite possibly equally offensive to members of the real Tea Party (hi there!) and the people with vocal non-technical criticism of work that Canonical does (hello there!).
For the record, technical critique of open source software is part of what makes open source software so good. It is welcome and appreciated very much at Canonical; getting reviews and feedback and suggestions for improvement from smart people who care is part of why we enjoy writing open source software. There isn’t anything in what I said to suggest that I don’t welcome such technical feedback, but some assumed I was rejecting all feedback including technical commentary. I was not – I was talking about criticism of software which does not centre on the software itself, but rather on some combination of the motivations of the people who wrote it, or the particular free software license under which it is published, or the policies of the company, or the nationality of the company behind it. Unless critique is focused on improving the software in question it is pretty much a waste of the time of the people who are trying to improve the software in question. That waste of time is what I had in mind with the comment; nevertheless, it was a thoughtless use of an irrelevant label. Please accept my apologies if you have been a vocal non-technical critic of Canonical’s software and felt offended by the label.
He also apologized for the take down notice that was sent to EFF staffer Micah F Lee over fixubuntu website.
Last week, someone at Canonical made a mistake in sending the wrong response to a trademark issue out of the range of responses we usually take. That has been addressed, and steps are being taken to reduce the likelihood of a future repeat.
He further added:
Within hours of the publication of a response to our letter, the CEO, COO and legal team reviewed the decision, corrected the action and addressed the matter publicly. I apologised the moment I was made aware of the incident. And I’m reassured that the team in question is taking steps in training and process to minimise the risk of a recurrence.
The damage to Ubuntu
That unprecedented move from Canonical (to sent take down notice) had put Canonical in the league of Apple.
All leading news sites criticized Canonical for this move and it turned out to be the worst PR disaster for Canonical.
The company has been taking quite some missteps lately which earned it a lot of negative press, whether it was Mir vs Wayland fight (where wrong info about Wayland was posted) or Canonical vs Intel fight (where Intel was bashed for reverting Mir patch), or Mark himself labeling the larger open source community as the Tea Party of Open Source.
It was about time that the senior leadership of the project stepped up to address some issues.
It’s commendable that Mark addressed the issue.
Core issue remains
However, the core issue still remains – the holy grail of all this criticism of Canonical is privacy invading feature and Mark has given no indication of making that feature opt-in.
There must be some very heavy incentive for Canonical that it’s willing to risk it’s image and privacy of users in the age of NSA and GCHQ spying by not disabling by default.
I personally feel that Canonical must revert its Dash Search policy and start working towards protecting its users instead of creating features which pose serious privacy risks.
I am quite certain that a huge complaint against Canonical will die the moment Canonical makes Dash Search opt-in.
What are your thoughts about it?