12.10 is out, how awesome is that? Go ahead and get it if you haven’t yet. I’ve upgraded all my computers months ago and they’ve been stable and receiving polish and new features almost every day since, how awesome is that? It has tons of new features that put closed-source competitors to shame, how incredibly awesome is that!? It looks nicer, it works faster on my slower machines and a lot of the small bugs in 12.04 have magically gone away, awe-some.
Then, as if things couldn’t seem better in a project nearing it’s 10th year of attempting to take over the world in a lot of very literal ways, Mark spontaneously decides to take on more financial risk by further opening up the current skunkworks projects Canonical works on and what happens? A lot of crap gets thrown his way. How insane is that?
I can understand competitors taking the opportunity of spinning this as a bad thing, highlighting the fact that there are such projects at all, and how X or Y project is 100% open and pure (although, maybe not as successful). Then there’s the usual Ubuntu trolls, folks who are bitter about Ubuntu being successful in the format that it adopted, blending commercial and community development in a unique way that requires a constant balancing act. They were betting on Ubuntu failing and they hate that it hasn’t, they hate that for a huge number of people “Linux” actually means “Ubuntu”. They also hate that there are millions of people who don’t even know (or care) what Linux is, and happily use Ubuntu. That’s fine, this is how life works, let them be bitter.
But I cannot understand strong, long-time Ubuntu members and contributors bashing Mark, Canonical or Ubuntu. It feels very disconnected from reality.
I can understand Unity sucked, everybody hated it and it made everything slow. It doesn’t any more. In fact, it’s crazy fast, crazy stable and it sets us apart from everybody else by a very long stretch. In some areas we leap-frogged a worthy competitor like Apple, and in many cases even forgot about Windows, our bug #1. This happened with many things, compiz, pulseaudio, empathy, you name it. Those sucked too, but ultimately rocked. For us, and for the rest of the open source ecosystem.
And yes, now you can purchase things from the Dash. It’ll offer up items even though you maybe weren’t looking to buy something, just opening your email. But it helps the project, it helps fund the very same things that make Ubuntu different from everyone else because we get to invest an enormous amount of money in user testing, design, custom engineering and closing deals with OEMs so Ubuntu ends up in the hands of millions of new users every year. I have an unfair advantage over most of you since I’ve worked at Canonical for over 4 years now and have seen a lot of what it costs in terms of actual dollars. It’s not that hard to imagine, though, flying hundreds of people across the globe every 6 months to get together, work and make it feel more like a community, by any simple math it is hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is a lot of money. And when you complain about a feature which you can ultimately disable bothers you and should be removed (or disabled by default, cutting off the actual chance that it’ll generate any significant revenue), also take a minute to think that you’re saying to Mark he should take that money out of his own pocket instead just so you can feel more comfortable with yourself. I can empathise with people immediately thinking of all the terrible examples of OEMs bundling adware with their computers that annoy people to no end, just to squeeze out every single penny out of each user to bump up their stock. But this is not the same, Mark’s been crystal clear that there is a lot being developed to make this a fantastic experience, I have inside knowledge to vouch for that. It is also all free software, it has been for almost 10 years, consistently, and has shown no signs of changing that. In fact, I started writing this because Canonical is trying to make the few bits that aren’t fully permeable to the community more open. How fucking awesome is that?
I think it’s time to stop, breathe and gain some perspective again.