OpenSUSE vs Ubuntu
// November 26th, 2006 // Free Software
I’ve been pondering whether I should say something about Mark’s reachout to the OpenSUSE community or not, but decided that it couldn’t do much harm to add my 2c.
I think Mark had the best intentions with that mail, I also think it was done in a bit of a rush. I don’t think the problem is much with what he did, but how he did it. I think that reaching out to other projects and building bridges are great, but the tone of the mail was a bit divisive, and dismissive of the OpenSUSE distribution, which is in my opinion a fantastic distribution (even though it’s been a while since I’ve used it). While I agree with Corey’s apology, and Matthew’s backing of it, I don’t feel a specific need from my side to apologise, but I will say that not everyone in the Ubuntu project feels the same way about OpenSUSE like Mark does. In fact, you will find that a large percentage of Ubuntu contributors are good at working in teams, and enjoys collaboration and working together with different projects.
Something good is coming out of this though. There seems to be a ever greater awareness of the proprietary drivers included in Ubuntu, and a greater awareness of Ubuntu’s reliance of proprietary tools such as Launchpad, and new proprietary software coming from Canonical, like the mysterious Landscape. Some are saying that now is a good time to put more pressure on Canonical to release more of their code under a free software license. I doubt they will budge though. I hope that Canonical will learn that “freeware != free software”. Just because Ubuntu is free of charge doesn’t mean that it’s free software.
At least there’s projects like Gnewsense that are working on cleaning up Ubuntu. Hopefully they will release a meta-package at some point that I can just install that will remove all the proprietary software from a standard Ubuntu installation, which I can use on my desktop systems that doesn’t need wi-fi drivers, proprietary display drivers, etc.
Some are suggesting that they’ll switch to Debian Etch. I haven’t used Debian since just before Warty was released, so I’m not sure how it stacks up to Ubuntu, but it certainly seems worth the try.
I think this post started off more diplomatic, and I do admit that I’ve edited it down a bit afterwards. I really feel that Canonical should review their free software policies, or follow the current philosophy and policies more closely. I don’t mean to be mean, I applaud the work and funding that Canonical has put into Ubuntu, but at the same time there’s a growing level of frustration among community members, and it’s early enough to fix this.
These are just my thoughts on this, it’s not authoritative and it’s open to correction.