The Canonical Smoke and Mirrors Show


This latest episode in Canonical’s blatant attempts at discrediting GNOME and pulling away contributors/supporters marks (see what I did there?) yet another low point in Canonical’s role in the FOSS community. And in Canonical’s case, I use the term “FOSS” loosely. Canonical is like that one kid in kindergarten that just does not get along well with the other kids, and often throws a fit and takes his ball and stomps home when they refuse to play by his rules. Shuttleworth in his latest anti-GNOME blog post makes a series of unsupported claims, and I sincerely hope the FOSS community at large is able to see through his smoke and mirrors.

Hold on a sec. There’s been ample documentation of conversations.

How about some citations to support this?

After a year or so of being the public whipping boy for cutting commentary from competitors under the Gnome banner, a franker line is needed.After a year or so of being the public whipping boy for cutting commentary from competitors under the Gnome banner, a franker line is needed.

Dare we look forward to times of less and less backbiting and complaining from your end, then?

Unity could quite easily move to the fore in GNOME, if it won this competition, just like lots of other ideas and pieces of code have started outside the core of GNOME but become essential to it.

If starting from the outside (the core) of GNOME isn’t such a hinderance to the success of an idea, then why not go ahead and complete your fork and then let the results speak for themselves? I suspect your long-term goal was to get GNOME to replace GNOME Shell with Unity, because you actually want to avoid competition, not encourage it. If competition was truly your motivator, you would have completed your fork without your transparently half-hearted attempt at Unity inclusion in GNOME, external or internal.

Owen’s argument reinforces the idea (which is in my view broken) that the only idea that matter are the ones generated internally to the GNOME project (defined very tightly by folks who maintain core modules or have core responsibilities). It’s precisely this inward view that I think is leading GNOME astray.

This so far takes the cake. See, for Canonical, the only ideas that matter are the ones generated internally, e.g. moving the buttons to the left (and rejecting the opinions of the community, because “This is not a democracy!”), changing the default search engine in Firefox, including in Ubuntu proprietary software like Ubuntu One, copyright assignment to Canonical of what should be FOSS contributions.

This last aspect by itself completely invalidates any claim you might have about caring for the interests of GNOME. If GNOME’s interests were of any importance to you, you would *not* ask it to adopt software that is copyrighted to Canonical, and you would *not* try to dip your hand in the cookie jar by hustling revenue off Banshee developers, which was supposed to go to GNOME, 100%.

Owen’s point that “no widget should go into Gtk if it is not needed by a GNOME application” is unlikely to be comforting to the XFCE folk, or other desktop environments which build on GNOME. If anything, it will make them feel that things in “core GNOME” are likely to be difficult to adopt and collaborate with, because their needs, apparently don’t matter.

Simply put, please let “the XFCE folk” – or whomever you refer to with this vague descriptor – speak for themselves. You obviously already have your hands full speaking for yourself and Canonical.

He also says “But I’ve never seen Canonical make the leap and realize that they could actually dive in and make GNOME itself better.”.. which is rather insulting to all the people from Canonical who spend a lot of their day doing exactly that.

What “all the people from Canonical” spend a lot of their day doing, unfortunately, is “ubuntufying” Debian and GNOME, and hardly – if ever – sending anything back upstream.

Finally, Owen concludes that having Unity and Gnome Shell as separate desktops may be the only way forward. Seems like he’s worked hard to ensure that’s the case.

Pointless conjecture. You’re not helping yourself.

Yes, that’s true. But Unity was simply the new name for work which has been ongoing since 2007: The Ubuntu Netbook Remix interface. That work was very much in the frame throughout, and it’s been suggested that it was that work which catalysed Gnome Shell in the first place.

Citations, please?

As I’ve shown above, the stated requirements are a very low bar. We did that, and more, yet the App Indicator API’s were rejected.

Why not post some links to mailing list archives? IRC logs? All this vague handwaving in response to Jeff Waugh’s well-documented timeline is rather weak.

Unfortunately for Jeff, we’d been told in no uncertain terms that module owners and core apps were under pressure about these API’s.

Not once so far have you offered anything in support of the array of claims and accusations you’ve been making all weekend. This is extremely bad form for the head of Canonical, I must say.

In fact, it’s what’s left that collaboration in limbo. What to do with all the patches produced for GNOME apps that make them work with app indicators?

This is the problem. Canonical expect to have their “contributions” auto-included in GNOME simply by throwing half-finished code over the wall with that now infamous “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude. And when, understandably, your “contributions” are rejected you throw a tantrum. It’s getting really old, now.

Ironically, you seem unwilling to accept GNOME’s decision to stick with GNOME Shell is – in simplified terms – based on the same reason Canonical sticks with Unity: you each feel you’ve got a better idea than the other. And there’s not much wrong with that, in my opinion. However, it starts becoming a problem when you try to shove Unity down GNOME’s throat and then get bent out of shape when they won’t have it.

For all your posturing about how much you care for GNOME and FOSS and how superior Unity is, why not move forward? If Canonical is incapable of working with GNOME, and you don’t like the GNOME way, then be mature and go your own way. All your diatribes are helping neither GNOME nor Canonical.




3 Responses to “The Canonical Smoke and Mirrors Show”

  1. 1 Pawlo

    It has to be said: gnome 3 is a disaster. Gnome devs are probably doing it for themselves rather for end users. Gnome folks started to blame Canonical and Mark while the problems lie in gnome camp. Gnome don’t want to cooperate, gnome and gnome foundation support ms mono and ms ooxml, gnome planet promotes ms products etc. I would never imagine you will rich, so high hypocrisy level.

  2. 2 Luke

    Wow. Fork it?

    What planet are you on? Why would anyone ever want to fork from a major project? If I want to implement a new feature in Gnome then patch many mainstream apps to take advantage of it, the last thing I’d want to do is fork.

    • By your reasoning, forks never happen because they never make any sense? If you want to argue that Canonical lacks the manpower and commitment to fork GNOME, then that’s a separate issue.

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