More and more developers and long-time Ubuntu members are getting disappointed with the Canonical leadership and breaking their association with what they call the Canonical community. Martin Owens, popularly known as DoctorMo, is one such developer.
There is special place for Ownes in my life as he directly affected me. He used to maintain the tablet pen drivers for Ubuntu. I have one such device and I was able to use it under Ubuntu because of the work he had done on it. I wrote about it extensively.
Owens is, unfortunately, not happy with the way business is going on at Ubuntu. He says that entity like Ubuntu community is dead and it has been like that for a while:
...I have to be honest, there isn’t an Ubuntu community any more. There's a Canonical community, an ubuntu-users gaggle and maybe an enthusiasts posse. But no community that makes decisions, builds a consensus, advocates or educates. It’s dead now, it’s been that way for a while.
He then addresses Jono Bacon the community manager of Ubuntu who is in a very tight spot. Owens says:
You were warned plenty. It’s not your fault. You had to deliver decisions against the best interests of the Ubuntu peer community and in favour of the Canonical community. Driving so hard towards product nirvana that peer relationships were driven into the ground. I’m sure you disagree that the community is dead, but eventually those scales will fall or the fake smile will stop. I don’t know what kind of Community you want, but it sure isn’t the peer community I signed up for.
The comments on his blog reflected the same sentiment.
Alen Bell, a lead Ubuntu developer, comments that he "can totally understand your perspective on this, there are quite a few people who are wrapping up their obligations and commitments and disengaging gracefully in this way."
Bell further writes that he thinks, "Canonical kind of want to reboot the community relationship, so that there is a clearer separation, with Canonical providing the platform, the developer community writing apps for the platform and users using the apps. There is some evidence to suggest that this might be working and they might be attracting a new and different community, it is going to take a few years to figure it out."
Release your code, don’t get locked in, earn your bread, keep up the good work - Martin Owens
Where do you go?
Where should these developers go? There are many open source communities out there which are still run by meritocracy and not some company.
Owens writes that "App developers need not change their behaviour, being an app developer doesn’t make you part of the old peer community. Just devs making good apps that should target all distros. Release your code, don’t get locked in, earn your bread, keep up the good work."
Ownes message is a very important one. If you are an app developer don't lock your app to one distro only, make it available for all distros so it's used by the Linux community and not locked to just one distro.
Jonathan Riddell the lead developer of Kubuntu has invited such disappointed developers to come and join Kubuntu. He writes, "If like Martin Owens you're feeling the lack of Ubuntu community and wanting an Ubuntu community that cares about everyone's contribution, doesn't make random announcements every couple of days that have obviously been made behind closed doors and cares about a community made upstream desktop (and err.. whole graphics stack), you'd be very welcome here at Kubuntu. Join us in #kubuntu-devel."
Riddell's call reminds me of those days when Novell made a controversial decision and signed a patent agreement with Microsoft [PDF]. Mark Shuttleworth made a call to openSUSE developers to come and join Ubuntu. He wrote, "If you have an interest in being part of a vibrant community that cares about keeping free software widely available and protecting the rights of people to get it free of charge, free to modify, free of murky encumbrances and “undisclosed balance sheet liabilities”, then please do join us."
None of this looks very good for Canonical which is already attracting quite a lot of criticism lately over Dash search, Ubuntu Touch and Mir.