Hey Phil,

No need to be frustrated. Just talk to some people and you’ll notice that nobody is treated in any special way.

Do wonder what triggered this. Just the Canonical-Banshee thing?

Some comments:

For starters, some [2] people in the GNOME community moan about how Ubuntu doesn’t pull its weight upstream. They then make it difficult for Ubuntu-y folks to contribute things upstream.

Suggest to find better examples than Zeitgeist and app indicators. App indicators has already been discussed before. People already explained in on your blog, but in short: it was suddenly proposed, never noticed work on this being done, it went against the current heading of GNOME (gnome-shell and less libraries, integrating more into gtk+) plus (IIRC) it needed copyright assignment. Most importantly, I felt like almost all feedback was ignored. Feedback is very important, things can be addressed if communication happens. If not, I’ll probably vote against it as things have to be working in the long term (have to get the impression it will be supported for 5+ years). Zeitgeist: it isn’t developed upstream. Makes it difficult to follow progress. Really important for me to easily follow progress. Still, very cool technology, I’m just waiting for it to be used in a nice way across GNOME. And that is mainly why it isn’t in GNOME at the moment (the ‘cool technology’ vs ‘used nicely in GNOME’). This was given as feedback, so I don’t see why you’re using Zeitgeist as an example. Likely Zeitgeist will end up as an external dependency. I also don’t see Zeitgeist as Ubuntu-y. That’s actually a good thing. I don’t want anything which appears to be restrictive, don’t care which distribution/organization/company it is from. In practice of course most development might come from one organization.

I use Mandriva for many years. Over those years, they haven’t contributed significantly towards GNOME (KDE focussed, though a lot of their tools use Gtk+). Really does not matter how much is contributed. Though, this doesn’t mean people will not constantly ask for more contributions (the more contributors the merrier). That said, I don’t see Canonical doing much upstream, nor any limitations to not do that. Again, my view and I see it as something factual, not emotional.

Anyway, if you realize that things aren’t perfect I think it’ll be much easier. E.g. messages to release-team might be ignored for no reason. Doesn’t mean anything other than that it was not picked up. Some technology was propsosed and rejected for various reasons. Doesn’t mean it will always be rejected, or that there are reasons other than documented. Further, sometimes the reasons are explained in ways that what wasn’t intended (miscommunication).

Perhaps a cause is how the communication happens? E.g. avoid having any communication that not everyone in the world easily follow. Further, communicate in the places people expect. Might have avoided app indicators if everything started on desktop-devel-list and so on (though, ehr, not always the most productive mailing list).

I fully understand that Ubuntu and Canonical aren’t the same thing

From my perspective, whatever Canonical wants to do, will be done (e.g. Banshee thing). I don’t see this as negative, nor as positive. However, result of current situation is that direction of Ubuntu is strongly influenced by Canonical.

The method you use to make that money is subject to intense scrutiny

Just people voicing their opinions about what they think is right or wrong. It can be allowed by a licence, but you really don’t want everyone solely looking at what is exactly allowed by the small text / legal.

and insisting that all of their attempts to generate revenue fit into some warm, fuzzy picture of a benevolent cooperative for whom profit is incidental is unreasonable

This summary doesn’t reflect what feedback was given or what people don’t like. As such, I find it pretty disrespectful towards the people giving comments (talking about the posts on planet gnome).

start playing hard ball

Where I work (easy to find out, but in short: not a distribution), it won’t work long term. Sometimes you help your customer and/or vendor, sometimes they help you. Or as buzzwords: sustainability and cooperation.

chronic infighting

Chronic infighting? I don’t see any of that happening.

GNOME can understand and facilitate Canonical’s commercial goals

Ehrr… if Canonical wants to make money, go ahead. But don’t expect me to facilitate. I don’t even understand how it is meant when I think of the Canonical-Banshee incident (isn’t facilitating). Further, I work on things because I want to for various reasons.

I will be swallowing some of my pride by working on documentation for Unity and assigning the copyright to Canonical.

Talk to Michael Meeks how LibreOffice got *loads* more contributions immediately by not having copyright assignments (presentation @ FOSDEM).

Final comment

I probably said some stuff which probably will get explained in ways I didn’t intend, mean or expected.

8 Replies to “Frustrations?”

  1. The copyright assignement is also a blocker for some company, RH among othrs, and some people said it was the same for Google ( but this need to be checked ).

    Canonical could perfectly be bought by someone who decide to do proprietary software. Sun/Oracle, etc.

  2. Is a video presentation in question from Meeks publicly archived? Or is there a version of the information presented in a white paper form as a blog entry or other article?


  3. Hi Olav,

    The post was motivated by my perception that the relationship between Ubuntu/Canonical and GNOME has been getting worse for some time. I’ve felt that it’s not as good as it should be for a while, and it seems to me that the frequency of “arguments” has increased of late. It’s also based on some of my experiences at a few GNOME events (e.g. GUADEC) – I often (not always) sense an air of disapproval if the topic of Ubuntu/Canonical comes up, which is a little troubling for people like me who enjoy working in both communities. It makes me feel uncomfortable sometimes.

    There are lots of valid reasons why Zeitgeist and app indicators might have been rejected, but some people still feel that an anti-Ubuntu/Canonical sentiment may have contributed to the decision to reject. It’s this that worries me, whether it was actually the case or not, and unfortunately it’s difficult to provide any hard evidence one way or the other. I accept that I could have chosen my words much more carefully here – I wanted to suggest that bias *may have played at part*, and that some people think that it did, not that it was the sole reason, or that it actually did play a part.

    On the issue of Zeitgeist being “Ubuntu-y”, I’ve clarified what I meant by this in a couple of comments on my original post.

    I understand that things aren’t perfect, but I think that some of the conflicts that have come up recently (Zeitgeist, app-indicators, Unity, Banshee Amazon referrals) are being blown out of proportion to such an extent that a gap is opening up between the two communities. These things may not characterise the “normal” interaction between Ubuntu and GNOME, but they are the events which people remember and use to form opinions. These opinions will eventually feed back into the normal running of things.

    Of course people can voice their opinions on what is right and wrong, but I think that people are being too harsh (and unrealistic) in what they are classifying as “wrong”. I don’t accept your criticism that my “benevolent cooperative” comment was disrespectful, and it wasn’t intended to be. I think it reflects the reality of the situation – people are uncomfortable about companies making money from open source in certain ways when I don’t think that they should be. There are people who are uncomfortable about Canonical promoting Ubuntu One in Ubuntu by integrating it and having it installed by default, for example. I don’t think that’s reasonable.

    I think my comment about “playing hardball” has been misunderstood. I meant this to refer to Canonical’s approach to positioning the Free desktop in the market and “exploiting” open source for profit, not in the way they interact with GNOME.

    GNOME can and should facilitate Canonicals commercial goals. I’m not saying they should bend over backwards to do it, but there should be some effort. This is because Ubuntu’s success can also be GNOME’s success – another million users for Ubuntu is another million users who are benefiting from GNOME software. If making it easier for Canonical to make money is a viable way of bringing those extra users in, then I think it’s a sensible path to take. What you do as an individual is, of course, up to you, but if you want to see GNOME grow then it might sometimes be prudent to “facilitate” slightly.

    I’m well aware of the issues surrounding copyright assignment and community contribution. I’m making this gesture to protect the Ubuntu documentation team from irrelevance. I don’t think that completely refusing to work with Canonical until my exact demands are met is wise in this situation.

    I hope this helps to clarify my position, and to correct some of my errors. I want Ubuntu/Canonical/GNOME to work together for the benefit of everyone, and I think some changes will be necessary if that is to go smoothly.

    1. Some quick comments:
      1) Release team decides on what is accepted and what is not (simply stated). I’m part of the release team. The meetings are not announced (only discussed on our mailing list, which is archived), but they are public (#release-team,; one time someone joined an informal meeting @ FOSDEM). So if you’re wondering about “unfortunately it’s difficult to provide any hard evidence one way or the other”: did not play a part and anyone in IRC could’ve seen that. Can even be proved by my IRC logs (though I really don’t want to waste time with that). Later on a summary is sent to all developers (appears on

      2) “blown out of proportion to such an extent that a gap is opening up between the two communities”: I see criticism regarding Canonical. Not much about Ubuntu or its community.

      3) “GNOME can and should facilitate Canonicals commercial goals.”: Canonical as a company is responsible to facilitate their commercial goals. We’re not hired by them. No business agreement. Etc. I don’t see why this is expected. GNOME is a hobby, not entrepreneurship.

      3b) “another million users for Ubuntu is another million users who are benefiting from GNOME software”: Don’t care. Canonical is free to get as many users as possible. Same as what I wish for every distribution/company/organization. Also, since Unity, I don’t see the relation between GNOME and Ubuntu (though I again don’t really care; Canonical is free to choose what they want, of course I have a preference).

      4) You’re mixing Ubuntu and Canonical a lot. When I am critical about a company, I mean the company, not the community. E.g. if I say something about Red Hat, I don’t mean Fedora.

      5) The Michael Meeks talk is very handy to clarify your position. I didn’t like copyright assignments and the talk is a good summary of my opinion. It is presented in a nice and easy to understand way, so you can just send a link instead of trying to make the argument yourself.

      6) “people are uncomfortable about companies making money from open source in certain ways when I don’t think that they should be”: You’re now saying it is about Ubuntu One. I don’t care about that. Thought you meant the Banshee incident.

      1. Hi Olav,

        1) I’m *not* suggesting that the release team conspired to reject technology X, or that someone said in the meeting “I don’t like technology X because I don’t trust organisation Y”. I’m suggesting that it’s *possible* that someone’s bias *contributed* to the rejection, perhaps by them arguing against it more vocally than they would have done otherwise. How could you prove that something like this happened from IRC logs?

        I believe that the release team have GNOME’s best interests at heart and make sensible decisions most of the time, but that doesn’t mean that they’re 100% objective. People have different opinions and interests, and biases can creep in.

        2) Ubuntu people can suffer from anti-Canonical sentiment. Canonical are part of the Ubuntu community, and many Ubuntu teams involve community volunteers and paid Canonical developers. If you don’t like Canonical, are you necessarily going to be completely trusting of someone working so close to them?

        3) It’s not expected, but it’s sensible. GNOME isn’t just a hobby. I do it as a hobby, but for-profit companies have been involved in GNOME from very early on. We’re a community, made up of people with different interests and goals. We should help each other – volunteers helping companies as well as companies helping volunteers.

        3b) I care. I think Free software can significantly improve the computing experience of many people, as well as increasing their freedoms. I want more people to know what Free software is and to feel that they can use it. If you’re involved in FOSS as an exercise in pure self-indulgence, then that’s fine! But it’s not the reason I do it. Ubuntu still uses GNOME applications, despite the shell being different.

        5) I’ve clarified my position personally to Mark Shuttleworth, and in posts on Planet GNOME. No doubt he’s seen Michael’s talk, and the various (excellent, insightful) blog posts on the subject. But Canonical are showing no signs of backing down. It’s part of their business strategy, and I think they’re going to stick with this policy for as long as they find practical.

        6) I introduced Ubuntu One as another example of the attitude I am criticising.



        1. 1) Understood. My goal was to show it is not the case. Regarding theoretical bias: that is why we have a big group and each comes from a different place (though 2 are now working for Novell). To avoid any bias. Any vocal disagreement will be noticed. Cannot be perfect in this, that is why we try hard to avoid any. E.g. due to having 2 people working for the same company, we’ve added a rule that max 2 people should work for the same organization/company (such a rule wasn’t needed before).
          Trying to be open about the decisions is something I really care about. So I’ll always respond when something is questioned.

          2) I value based on contributions and history.
          Don’t actually watch what is happening @ Canonical or Ubuntu (same for a lot of distributions). Only notice when it appears in anything GNOME related (planet GNOME, mailing lists, IRC, etc).

          3) Sensible? About 50% do it as a hobby, no monetary goals in mind. Then the other 50% are companies. Competitors would be crazy to support the commercial goals of another company in the way you’re seem to suggest. As a hobbyist, it is a hobby. I don’t see how it is sensible. I don’t want to work for a company aside from the company I’m already working for.

          That said, I think GNOME is handling things well. Regular releases to the date for *years*, very long support of libraries, etc.

          3b) Understood (“agree to have a different opinion 😛 “).

          6) Ubuntu One and Banshee are totally different. One is something developed by Canonical. 100% their effort. A lot of the Banshee developers are actually paid by another company.

          What I find strange with Ubuntu One is that to fully relate this to Banshee, you could argue that Canonical should open all of the Ubuntu One code so a competitor can almost effortlessly setup the same infrastructure and then compete against Ubuntu One.

          This as GNOME is not just ‘upstream’; it is 50% various companies and 50% hobbyist. Meaning, if you really want GNOME to facilitate, it means other companies have to facilitate Canonical. As such, Canonical should facilitate other companies as well.

          To clarify: Above is not my opinion. I think we should *not* facilitate. Canonical is free to have an Ubuntu One. But please just don’t touch any referral codes.

          Another way to explain my position on Banshee: I doubt that there is a law about cutting in line. But I’ll still complain about it and find it rude. Not a perfect analogy though.

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