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Thread: What is your opinion on Canonical?

  1. #1

    Default What is your opinion on Canonical?

    Disclaimer: I am looking for informed opinions with thought and reason behind them. Please, don't throw opinions just for the sake of it.

    Do you think that Canonical is a force of good in the Free Software ecosystem?

    I am not fully informed about what Canonical practices are. I did look up the subject, but I found most resources full of unjustified opinions, and sometimes flame wars. I am looking forward to a calm and informative perspective on the subject.

    Some people don't like the Unity desktop, and criticize it from a functionality/experience point of view. I, personally, like Unity, however, that's besides the point.

    My main concern regarding Unity is the fact that it is almost tied to Ubuntu. For example, openSUSE does not have Unity as a desktop option (except as an alpha-stage product).

    The reason I have chosen openSUSE is that it treats almost all DE as first-class citizens. Even though I use KDE only, I respect openSUSE for adhering to the interchangeable software paradigm.

    Going back to the subject matter, it seems to me that Canonical does not respect that a free DE should be maximally portable to other Linux distributions, which is against the Free Software spirit as I understand it.

    On the other hand, I read that Canonical has actually pushed many of their patches upstream, and upstream was simply not interested in merging their patches. And that's fine for both upstream and Canonical to do, because part of the open-source development methodology is creating forks when disagreements happen, and creating diversity in this manner.

    So, do you think that Canonical is acting in good faith? Or do you think that they might be undermining Free Software "from within"?

    And as mentioned earlier, please try to share informed and well-reasoned opinions.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    On Wed, 01 Feb 2017 12:46:01 +0000, zaidgs wrote:

    > So, do you think that Canonical is acting in good faith? Or do you think
    > that they might be undermining Free Software "from within"?


    I think it's overstating it to state that they're undermining Free
    Software.

    Free Software is about the freedom to do what you want, within the bounds
    of the OSS licenses the code is licensed under.

    Canonical scratches their own open-source itches in the way that suits
    them - as do any developers in the OSS world.

    Forking code is a big thing in OSS development, and there's no obligation
    (beyond making your code available, generally, depending on the license)
    to send those patches upstream. Heck, I've got a few OSS programs that
    I've tweaked for my own purposes, but I'm not interested in maintaining
    them or pushing them upstream (indeed, one change does something that I
    know would be rejected, but it's something I need the code to do in my
    own, personal environment).

    The OSS license for the programs in question lets me do that - since I'm
    not distributing my changes, I am not required to share my modifications
    to the source. If I distributed the changed programs, then I'd have to
    make the code available.

    Jim

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  3. #3

    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    Yes, I know that Canonical is acting within the rules of the GPL license. And I agree, my speculative question about undermining Linux is really jumping many logical steps.

    To clarify, I am trying to get educated about those issues. So, I don't really have any strong opinions. I am trying to understand the situation, and I am reiterating some arguments that have ringed true to me.

    For example, I read a lot about the systemd controversy. And I find that some arguments against it are actually credible. In particular, the fact that it is actually hard to have an inter-changeable init system for distributions.

    Going back to the DEs analogy. In Linux, we are used to that we can change the DE on a whim. And all the DEs are available on (almost) all distributions, with the exception of course of Unity.

    So, it seems to me that what was taken for granted is no longer true.

    In fact, what lead me to read a lot about the systemd controversy was my experience in installing Gentoo. In Gentoo, you have the option of installing either openrc or systemd as an init system. You could easily install almost any DE with either init system, except for GNOME which was only supported with systemd.

    So, I am really talking about the big picture, rather than following rules in a narrow sense. And I am not saying that such expectations should be followed religiously. I wonder about how these things could affect the Linux ecosystem in the long run.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    I don't have a problem with Canonical.

    Yes, they have done some things that folk criticize. However, they have also made linux more readily available to many people. On balance, I think it is a plus.

    On unity -- I don't much care for it myself. But perhaps I haven't invested the time to fully explore its possibilities. If somebody really wanted to maintain Unity for openSUSE, I would guess that they could get it included.

    If you really want to discuss "systemd", I suggest a separate topic. But the discussion would probably generate more heat than light.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    Nah, I don't really want to delve into the systemd issue. However, I do see some similarities between the two topics, in so far that we're talking about the general ecosystem, and what we've come to expect from Linux software.

    So, I don't mind expanding this topic in that direction a little bit when an analogy is relevant.

    And I agree that Canonical did help a lot to advance Linux especially on the desktop.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    On 2017-02-01, zaidgs <zaidgs@no-mx.forums.microfocus.com> wrote:
    > In fact, what lead me to read a lot about the systemd controversy was my
    > experience in installing Gentoo. In Gentoo, you have the option of
    > installing either openrc or systemd as an init system. You could easily
    > install almost any DE with either init system, except for GNOME which
    > was only supported with systemd.


    Please correct me if I'm wrong (I only use Gentoo with KDE), but I thought Dantrell B (who wrote the Funtoo GNOME
    patchset) has a layman/portage-package that allows GNOME 3 to run on openrc dependencies rather than systemd. In Gentoo,
    I avoid systemd just because it's harder work. It might boot up 2 seconds quicker than openrc, but I really don't care -
    they're just init systems.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    On Wed, 01 Feb 2017 20:46:01 +0000, nrickert wrote:

    > If you really want to discuss "systemd", I suggest a separate topic. But
    > the discussion would probably generate more heat than light.


    Indeed, and that has been discussed at great length in the past.

    Jim
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    On Wed, 01 Feb 2017 20:06:01 +0000, zaidgs wrote:

    > Going back to the DEs analogy. In Linux, we are used to that we can
    > change the DE on a whim. And all the DEs are available on (almost) all
    > distributions, with the exception of course of Unity.


    Which is, of course, the choice of the people who write the code. The
    same holds true for a fair amount of OSS and non-OSS software that runs
    on Linux - some producers of that software decide to target only specific
    distributions.

    Choice and freedom are the overriding values, generally. Some take an
    absolutist view on the freedom perspective and say that any true GNU/
    Linux distribution includes *no* proprietary components at all.

    > So, it seems to me that what was taken for granted is no longer true.


    It's never been true that in the OSS world you were required to do
    anything you didn't want to (other than comply with the license for code
    you didn't create).

    > So, I am really talking about the big picture, rather than following
    > rules in a narrow sense. And I am not saying that such expectations
    > should be followed religiously. I wonder about how these things could
    > affect the Linux ecosystem in the long run.


    Well, certainly they do affect the ecosystem - every decision has ripple
    effects. But when it comes to "damage", OSS is very efficient at
    "routing around" it.

    Jim

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    openSUSE Forums Administrator
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    Quote Originally Posted by hendersj View Post
    Well, certainly they do affect the ecosystem - every decision has ripple
    effects. But when it comes to "damage", OSS is very efficient at
    "routing around" it.
    Indeed, yes, because there are a lot more brains out there examining it from a much wider variety of angles and viewpoints than can be had in the commercial sector, because they need to keep payroll within limited bounds in order to turn profits and please the shareholders, plus they need to keep "secrets" away from their competitors.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: What is your opinion on Canonical?

    Quote Originally Posted by flymail View Post
    Please correct me if I'm wrong (I only use Gentoo with KDE), but I thought Dantrell B (who wrote the Funtoo GNOME patchset) has a layman/portage-package that allows GNOME 3 to run on openrc dependencies rather than systemd. In Gentoo, I avoid systemd just because it's harder work. It might boot up 2 seconds quicker than openrc, but I really don't care -
    they're just init systems.
    You are correct. An overlay exists. However, at the time I am talking about, that patch was considered experimental and unofficial. The patch is now is still unofficial and unsupported, but I believe it is much more stable.

    I am not a fan of GNOME, so I have not been closely following those developments.

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