Sunday, February 11, 2007

Speak the Truth or Make Your Peace Another Way

I feel like I have to respond to the bigillion emails I received over the weekend with regard to my prior post. I am assuming that I owe most of the traffic to Matt Asay quoting me in his InfoWorld blog. Matt is one of that rare breed of people who bring delight with every word they write. If you're not reading him, you should be.

First, to make this blatantly, unequivocally and unmistakably clear--I do not hate neither Mark Shuttleworth nor Ubuntu. We should all be jealous. Mark is a stand up guy. After all, how many people do you know that have invested $10 Million in a true Linux company? I am also very appreciative of all the great work he has done with Canonical/Ubuntu, penetrating into markets which would have otherwise never heard the word Linux. I also have interminable admiration for his awesome humanitarianism. After all, is that not what we fight for day in and day out? To create a culture which values both physical and intellectual freedom and transparency so that future generations can have a freer existence?

Second, with regards to what I said last time, I meant every word of it, although I will admit it was said, somewhat, in the heat of the moment. I will however further explain the context within which I wrote it. I couldn't believe what I read because I believe that what they are doing is such a bad idea. Ubuntu is choosing to act pre-emptively, by providing users a means to access software, which although they might know they want, they don't understand why it is so bad for them to have. The fact that they want it so badly proves the point exactly; it's like an illegal drug.

Now I'm not saying that the users are idiots, which they are clearly not, but what I am saying is that if you are going to target the mainstream desktop and the whole wide world user base which comes along with it, odds are that people are going to be none-the-wiser. The same thing happened to us with fossil fuels and look at the sorry state we are in now, trying with all our wonderous ability to break its suffocating grip.

I believe that education about these social issues (and yes they are as much social issues as anything else), prior to opening these potentially hazardous channels is the only way to solve this problem. Like Matt Asay said in his blog, pragmatism needs to be balanced with advocacy. If we don't educate people then we are opening doors for the same travesties we suffer with to occur over and over and in other parts of the world as well. That being said, I view this as one whole big marketing mess, and while I do believe that the letter of the announcement was written in good faith, (providing value to the user base) it certainly violated the spirit of the values of the Open Source community.

On a final note, Linspire claims that they are going to unify packaging in the Linux world. They also claim the Click-N-Run source is open and available. I spent about two hour earlier today looking through various Linspire sites, wikis, and software repositories and was unable to find the code. Also, I think I sort of figured out they were saying was that the Click-N-Run plugin is Open Source but that the web service backend is not. I am dying for a member of the Linspire community to prove me wrong on this and point me the place where they offer the CNR code. And as for their claims that they will be the end all and be all of Linux package management, well, as they say in Missouri

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with the state of Missouri, either officially, unofficially or clandestinely. I had a friend who was a reporter there once, but he's moved on. In fact the St. Louis Cardinals of Missouri defeated my Mets in the NLDS this year. Boy did that suck. ;)