Thursday, September 18, 2008

Linux Plumbers Conf: Keynote

Yesterday the contentwise part of the Linux Plumbers Conference 2008 - with all the talks, BOFs and discussions - started with the keynote of Greg Kroah-Hartman. The topic was "The Linux Ecosystem - What it is - Where you are in it". It was basically about the area of Linux the Plumbers Conf is about: kernel, gcc,, glibc, ALSA, HAL/DBUS ...

In fact the keynote was about the role of Canonical/Ubuntu in this area of Linux. It was about how much Canonical (developers) contributed in the last years to the ecosystem. And as it turned out (not the first time) it wasn't that much. It was maybe hard to hear for the Canonical guys because Greg brought up a painful subject, but I think he was right.

It was a really interesting, cool and amusing keynote. You can find the slides of the talk at Greg's blog. The keynote was recorded, as soon as the video is available you can find a link at Greg's blog.

There is already a reaction from the CTO of Canonical. After reading the blog post methinks thou dost protest too much. And some of the complaining isn't correct at all. He complains for example that the slides don't contain the Novell logo, but IMO this wasn't needed at all since the first slide contained Greg's mail address, which was a address. After this slide everyone knows that he is working for SUSE/Novell. But read the post yourself.


Sam said...

I find it amusing that people are trying to compare Canonical to Novell and Red Hat. People need to realize that Canonical is not yet profitable - it is a comparatively TINY company. Mark Shuttleworth has money, but that doesn't mean he can employ 50 people to work solidly on submitting patches upstream.

This is aside from the fact that Greg's numbers are unreliable. I've never contributed a patch through Canonical. But I contribute patches as an Ubuntu user.

Again, why on earth is everyone trying to compare the size of Canonical with the likes of Novell and Red Hat? To be fair, Canonical is punching well above its weight - but it doesn't have the same manpower.

Sorry, I have to call BS on this one.

Aaron J. Seigo said...

Well, Sam, compare Canonical today to Suse or Red Hat back in the day at the same level of growth. The "buy Canonical is young and small" thing doesn't wash in that context.

The truth is that Canonical has chosen to spend its capital in ways other than contributing upstream. Trying to make out like that's not the case is pretty, well, rediculous.

Whether or not that's a matter for concern or if they have brought different benefits with them is another discussion topic, and one I personally won't get into here ...

Aaron J. Seigo said...

er, that should've been "but Canonical is young and small".. *sigh*

TheGZeus said...

My question is this:
Why is he talking about this? How is bashing a company helping anything?
I don't use Ubuntu, I don't like Ubuntu (buggy, too much automatic stuff that works often, but not always), but that doesn't mean I take time out of my day to talk about what they're NOT doing for other people's software.
I dislike them introducing bugs into Debian packages, but that's another issue entirely.

AlbertoP said...


Greg simply pointed out how things are. There is a lot of confusion about Canonical and Ubuntu. Too many people, among the unexperienced, think Ubuntu IS and DOES linux, and Canonical marketing strategy surely doesn't try to contradict these false believing.

This said, I think Canonical has other merits, first of all the one of having increased Linux visibility dramatically. But that's another story.

TheGZeus said...

I understand that, but what good does this do?
True or not, he's preaching to the choir if that was, in fact, the point.
Furthermore, I've NEVER even heard of someone thinking Ubuntu is/does Linux.
Reminds me of the GNU/Linux debacle. "I want credit for your effort, dammit!! WAAAAH!!"

Also, a contribution to GCC is a contribution to any BSD, same for X. The line he's claiming to draw is rather crooked.

Andre said...

He gave a talk about Kernel contribution on the Google conference, because there was a demand to know who is working and funding the Kernel. When he put up the Top Ten funding companies with the first and fifth place left out, someone guessed that canonical is on the first place, which must be aggravating for companies like Novell, Red Hat, or former SUSE employees. He answered that they didn't appear because they just don't contribute. He actually said that they made 6 patches, which, as he pointed out in his new presentation, turned out to be wrong.
Anyway, I have to admit that I find Canonical's/Ubuntu's marketing position annoying, and I'm happy to see someone clearing it up.
Don't forget that Shuttleworth invented Novell developers to join Canonical with the specious justification of Novell not complying to the GPL.

B. Malengier said...

It should be clear that in all projects so called amateurs are a large part of the contributers. It should also be obvious that Ubuntu is a large fraction of the market, hence many of these amateurs contribute to upstream from within an Ubuntu desktop environment.

Developing a project myself, it is clear from our automatic bug list that the vast majority of our users are using an ubuntu distro. They do a good job at keeping the applications up to date and secure, which is a good thing.

Bashing Ubuntu is not very productive, they are helpfull to application developers, even if it appears from Greg's slides they are no force in the plumbing of linux.

Kragil said...
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Kragil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kragil said...

Novell is still a very proprietary company and has very proprietary beliefs.

It is no wonder that their employees (Meeks, de icaza, GregKH) go out and start open source bar fights ( against Oo.o, KDE or Ubuntu ) and cuddle with MS a lot.

Red Hat is so much better in that regard and seems way more confident. Novell just fears Canonical like crazy I guess.

It is pure envy IMHO. This time Greg asked how many people in the audience used Ubuntu and the majority did.
If you don't understand free software that probably hurts and obviously makes some people snap. Tall poppy syndrome is all I can think of when I see such behavior.

I think Greg just presented a Novell sponsored rant and disguised it as a keynote.

That sort of behavior is way way below the code of conduct I wanna see in the community. Pointing fingers is such a lame thing to do. Would the "linux ecosystem" be better off without the millions of Marks _own money_ he poured into Ubuntu? I think no sane person would say it would be. Greg should not have trolled at a big conference and should have kept his strange ideas about "ecosystems" to himself.

PS. His view of the "Linux ecosystem" is very twisted anyways IMNSHO.

EDIT: I wanted to avoid possible misunderstanding. That is why I deleted my other posting.

Andre said...

How can or can't a company be proprietary?
What is twisted about his view of the Linux ecosystem? I don't see any explanation of that remark.

Kragil said...

Well .. IMHO you can be _not proprietary_ if the vast majority of your products are open source. Red hat, former MySQL, Canonical (once launchpad is open source) are examples.

And if he had called his "Linux ecosystem" "Linux plumbing" it would be OK. But _every_ Linux system includes server apps or desktop environments and apps. (Well, theoretically a kernel only system could work as a very basic router. But I haven't seen that basic systems IRL yet. )

Anonymous said...

I was also kind of surprised by this presentation, what is greg trying to accomplish here. Even though they have maybe not added so much to the kernel, but they made my linux a lot more usable. Codecs are installed automagically, proprietary drivers and a lot more stuff. That is actually to me a lot more important in actually using linux. I am not a programmer, i just want to USE it, and ubuntu (and canonical with that) have done a lot more for me than suse. I installed suse11 (as i always do with every new version) and was so annoyed that i had to look up howto's to be able to play my mp3's and go to packman to get the right packages. I hardly used suse11 because of that. (and yes i know it is not that hard, but after 10 years i kind of had enough of fuckin' around, getting everything to work, i just want it to work). I am sorry greg but in using linux, ubuntu has done a lot more for me than suse recently.....

bullnbulln said...

Kragil, you're such a loser. Novell doesn't start bar fights against openoffice. Novell is OO's second biggest contributor after Sun. Novell doesnt fight KDE. Novell is together with Nokia the biggest KDE contributor.
Canonical is just a lame freeloader. The only app Canonical ever developed isLauchpad and that one is closed source.

Kragil said...

>Novell doesn't start bar fights against openoffice.
"Sun dropping out of development wouldn't be an entirely negative thing"

>Novell doesnt fight KDE.
The examples are numerous.

A good one:

Aarons comment to that post was: "the day Miguel learns how to talk about his work without slagging that of others is the day my faith in humanity goes up another notch."

>The only app Canonical ever developed isLauchpad and that one is closed source.

What about Bazaar, Storm, Upstart, Jockey, UFW etc??
And btw. Launchpad will be open sourced.

>Kragil, you're such a loser.

Yeah suure and you are right about everything you said :P

Andre said...

Kragil, this is stupid, you could also find a lot of examples where Canonical acted badly, like I remember this message:

But I really don't want to do this. About the ecosystem. If you talk about the ecosystem of an OPERATING SYSTEM, you usually don't talk about stuff that runs on all OS's in the world, like server components, desktop environments, etc. pp. He talks about what is the basis of the system, and he is right with his selection.

About "proprietary", I still think you totally misuse that word. And please finally explain how Novell's beliefs are proprietary. This just doesn't make sense.