Blaise Alleyne

Blaise Alleyne at

I'm hardly defending Canonical. As you said, we basically agree on the problems with Canonical.

It's the reaction that I'm not on side with. For all the proprietary stuff that Canonical has been pushing, especially in the past few years, the vast majority of Ubuntu is still free software. Now, careful -- I'm not saying in any way that it excuses the proprietary stuff. But I do think it should change how we criticize and hold Canonical to account (however unwilling they may be to listen -- though, occasionally they do, e.g. Launchpad).

I think it makes sense to call out Canonical for all the proprietary stuff they do, even to avoid endorsing or using or supporting Canonical's efforts that rely on proprietary stuff. But my point is: they are so much closer to the free software position than most other companies. I think criticism is needed, but I don't think that hoping for their utter failure is a productive form of criticism. Unlike Apple or Microsoft or even Google, Canonical gets free software at a certain level much more than most other companies. It's just that they've been increasingly taking the "open source" way of proprietarizing the "secret sauce," or tolerating other shiny proprietary things, or even promoting them. But.. even if it's miles away from acceptable, don't you see how it's light years away from a proprietary software company through and through?

I think it's more productive to criticize Canonical with the possibility of redemption in mind -- even though I think a complete victory is unlikely. In the grand scheme of things, they're far closer to our side than anyone else. How would you criticize a friend, even if they're utterly misguided or doing something wrong? I'd treat a friend, or former friend or potential future friend differently than an enemy...

I don't want to see Canonical's proprietary projects grow. But I don't want to see Canonical run into the ground. I'd rather appeal to Canonical's free software foundations -- even if they've strayed from them -- than to just cast Canonical aside as if they were Apple or Microsoft.

Despite how many dumb things they've been doing, and increasingly over the past few years, wouldn't you agree that there's a difference between a Canonical and an Apple? Should there be a difference in the way we react or criticize?

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