Monday, November 27, 2006

Overreact Much?

The recent kerfluffle over the post that Shuttleworth made on the openSUSE mailing list has me torn. First of all, and this is in no particular order, I think it's clear that Shuttleworth is just extending a friendly invitation to those developers that feel abandoned by the deal. That being said, however, it does serve his purpose to some extent as an email like this may poke said developer into action (ie. jumping ship) when otherwise he/she would have given into his passive ways and stayed where they were comfortable. Also, I think it is fairly well known that volunteer developers are typically welcomed, if not encouraged, to join any project they so desire. The fact that Ubuntu accepts new developers really isn't news. Whether the email was really composed as an innocent invitation, or as some kind of weird stunt, I guess we'll never know. And frankly, who cares?

On the other hand, I also think the openSUSE developers are overreacting a little in their responses. The most effective way to answer an unwelcome post like this is to not answer it at all. Being childish and bad mouthing competing distros is uncalled for, and that's exactly what some of those responses do. Swinging again in the other direction, however, what did Shuttleworth really expect? It's not difficult to predict that an email like this will be met with hostile resentment. It's not as though Gore invented the Internet just last week or anything. We've all see this stuff before, many times over. Someone (Shuttleworth) does something unacceptable, the victims (openSUSE devs) cry and toss insults back in response, then thousands of uninvolved peons (me) blog about it for weeks. Prodding people to leave the distro that they are clearly passionate about rarely ends nicely.

In my opinion Shuttleworth was silly to even think about making such a post to the mailing list. The guy is in no position to sing about unity and software freedom after making the decision to ship and install non-free binary drivers by default with the next Ubuntu release. I mean, let's face it. If I were an openSUSE developer who was looking to move elsewhere as a direct result of this deal, I'd make an attempt to decide which distro/company would least likely wind up doing the same thing to me in the future. If we lined up all of the major distros (Fedora, Debian, Mandriva, etc.) and looked at them in this light, I think many of us would agree which one we would add to the avoid list. The future of Ubuntu "freedom" spooks me a bit for some reason. I can't quite put my finger on the reason though.

I got a kick out of how this guy compares the Microvell deal and Ubuntu's commitment to freedom in a comment on the Newsforge article:

Microsoft+Novell deal involves: *Not sueing people.

Ubuntu involves: *Singing the praises of Free Software and all about how all software should be Free, yay, la la la, let's get around the bonfire and sing Koombayah and dress up the desktop in brown colors because it's all about humans and people and being human and proprietary software is bug #1 and...

*Except it actually isn't totally free software. Oops! We'll stick that in under bug #123581352.

*...But hey you SuSE goes can come develop for us cause we're more about Freedom and Unity with a capital F and U!

Not sure why, but I found that funny.

1 comment:

  1. Kind of funny that Burger was the first Ubuntero to slap Shuttleworth about it...

    Meh, sabdfl knew there'd be fallout, hence this: "I know that posting this message to an OpenSUSE list will be