back to article Shuttleworth delivers death blow in Umbongoland dispute

A storm of accusations, claims, and furious counterclaims has hit the Ubuntu penguins, with a community cleaved of its head following allegations of unsavory behavior. Long-time Kubuntu dev Jonathan Riddell has been dismissed as head of Kubuntu and removed from all positions of responsibility within the Ubuntu community. The …

  1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Why is this 'news'...

    ... the open source world is forever at handbags-drawn?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Why is this 'news'...

      Pass the popcorn.

      I have little idea of the various Linux factions, so it's a bit like watching a fight between 2 random strangers.

      1. AceRimmer

        Re: Why is this 'news'...

        2 random drunk strangers

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: Why is this 'news'...

          "2 random drunk strangers..."

          ...Armed with feather dusters

          1. tony2heads

            Re: Why is this 'news'...

            Proper penguin fights are conducted outdoors by them throwing back their heads, standing chest to chest and slapping each other with their wings. If it is really serious, some pecking will be involved.

    2. FrankAlphaXII Silver badge

      Re: Why is this 'news'...

      No, it isn't. The Circus Kernel constantly is outside of Kernel development, especially at the distribution level (even though software packaging is pretty bad too) and why that is I have no idea, but its not like that everywhere.

    3. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Why is this 'news'...

      Don't conflate the open source world with the lame subset GNU/Linux ecosystem which actually is being destroyed and turned into Windows lite from the inside by Red Hat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why is this 'news'...

        Maybe not conflate, but you can confuse. I can't name many open source projects that do NOT first and foremost run with Linux. You can say that GNU can run without Linux, but can you point to an example? The last I saw GNU software being used in anything non-Linux was for torrent/pirate stuff (or shady Chinese "FreeOfficeApp.exe" style viruses...if we include GPL anything that is).

        After reading the article, I have 1 question: If KUbuntu is to pony up a license of some sort, well does Ubuntu have an equivalent license with Debian? I'm seriously doubting it, as Ubuntu is clearly all about taking over Micrsoft's po$ition.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why is this 'news'...

          "You can say that GNU can run without Linux, but can you point to an example?"

          No. I think I can point to several. How's that? What, you want me to name them?

          Cygwin (GNU and other Linuxy stuff, running without Linux, under Windows). https://www.cygwin.com/

          See also mingw/msys (mingw = minimalist GNU for Windows - the hint's in the name)

          http://www.mingw.org/

          GNV. (GNU and other Linuxy stuff, running without Linux, under [Open]VMS).

          http://gnv.sourceforge.net/

          There may well be more. What was your point again?

          "If KUbuntu is to pony up a license of some sort, well does Ubuntu have an equivalent license with Debian? I'm seriously doubting it, as Ubuntu is clearly all about taking over Micrsoft's po$ition."

          Now that's potentially far more interesting. But I don't have any answer for you.

        2. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Why is this 'news'...

          >You can say that GNU can run without Linux, but can you point to an example?

          https://www.sunfreeware.com/introduction.html

          http://hpux.connect.org.uk/

          http://www.bullfreeware.com/

          To name a few. And that is just GNU stuff. There is plenty of open source stuff that is not GNU or tied to Linux as well. Some of it has taken or is taking over the world as well. Apache, Hadoop, etc. The whole edge to POSIX is how easy it is to port software from one platform to another if you do have the source code. Of course Linux has never really been POSIX and is completely turning its back on even trying these days. This is good because I don't have to worry about systemd taking over my BSD home system (though newer gnome soon will be unportable without massive shimming, oh well no big loss) which by the way runs plenty of GNU stuff just fine as well. Still with monstrosities like bash its often better for your system if you cut down the GNU attack surface as much as you can.

        3. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Why is this 'news'...

          Bah edit period over. Just to clarify yes I am aware POSIX doesn't specify the init system but if systemd was simply an init system it wouldn't matter. When virtually everything has a hard dependency on the specific init system implentation (systemd) as is now becoming the case in Linux land then you soon have a giant hairball and can kiss any pretense to POSIX out the window.

      2. Afernie

        Re: Why is this 'news'...

        "Don't conflate the open source world with the lame subset GNU/Linux ecosystem which actually is being destroyed and turned into Windows lite from the inside by Red Hat."

        Stallman, is that you?

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Why is this 'news'...

          Stallman would perhaps rip on Linux but wouldn't include the GNU in there if he did so. Stallman doesn't seem to be that much of a UNIX purist. He would probably criticize (too lazy to go look) systemd more for being LGPL instead of straight GPL more than for the horrible monolithic hairball (when in doubt make it a hard dependency) design and the anti portable cancer code it is spreading (trampling POSIX is actually a Poettering design goal and Red Hat corporate strategy)l.

    4. zeke

      Re: Why is this 'news'...

      This is news because Canonical/Ubuntu prides itself to be the kings of 'community' yet has over the past few years screwed up so often that incompetence of that nature is spectacular to see.

      Canonical might think itself as some collaboration gurus but "Jimmy doenst play well with other kids" is the first thing youd write on their report card.

      I think any bunch of developers who ask for clarifications and are dragged along for 2.5 to 4yrs (depending on accounts) will start being a bit testy and worry about whether there are other reasons to delay this info for YEARS which by the way is one of the things you cant do.

      You have to assume good intentions to be in good standing with the Buntus. Thinking that a wait of a few years to some basic and fundamentals problems is perhaps an indication of something else is FORBIDDEN but you can very easily see why people would start feeling taht way.

      In their over the top response, Canonical has only confirmed some people beliefs that there wasnt good intentions. But thats Canonical, horrible at PR, horrible at working with other communities that make up the GNU-LInux desktop yet still proud like a peacock at how good they think they are.

      THATS why this is news. We love seeing car crashes unfold and Canonical has been amusing us quite a bit with how inept they are at something they claim to be good at.

      1. madscientist42

        Re: Why is this 'news'...

        Less a car crash and more a train wreck in slow motion.

        It's come time to contemplate "something else" to be honest. I'm probably on my last "upgrade" on Ubuntu- and while Mint's epic, if they're tied to this bunch (and having to LICENSE that which is technically **NOT** licenseable...) then I'll pass on their offering as well.

        They're going to MAKE me go back into the distribution business or back fully Devuan at this rate. (And there's **NOTHING** saying that you can't have Devuan be as clean or cleaner than all the others... We don't need Systemd. We don't need half the crap the "commercial" distribution vendors have in play- and still reach the goals they claim they're striving for...)

  2. sisk Silver badge

    Um....correct me if I'm wrong....but isn't this somewhat like if Stallman were to tell Torvalds that he was no longer the head of the kernel dev team? I mean I get that Kubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu, but surely forking an open source project doesn't give the original control over the derivative's community structure.

    1. BitDr

      Hmmmm... sign a licence to use ubuntu packages... hmmmmm.... if it is all GPLd then there is no need to sign a licence is there. So the question becomes "what is this license that must be signed"? Debian had best be careful lest they become dependent on UBUNTU and not the other way around.

      Lack of clarity, and using host button descriptions such as "disrespectful" to sling mud at the target, are the hallmarks of those whose intentions are not what they appear to be.

      1. Vic

        if it is all GPLd then there is no need to sign a licence is there

        Well, for the GPL stuff, they may not ask Mint to sign a licence.

        From GPL v2 Section 4:

        You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License

        IOW, any attempt to distribute GPL code with additional clauses would terminate Ubuntu's rights to distribute at all...

        Vic.

        1. thames

          @Vic - IOW, any attempt to distribute GPL code with additional clauses would terminate Ubuntu's rights to distribute at all...

          It's a trademark dispute, not a software license dispute. Red Hat has even stricter policies with respect to the use of their trademarks.

          GPL has nothing to do with it. Copyrights and trademarks are two completely different issues and come under different laws.

          A good example of why distros keep right control of their trademarks is that at one time various shady distributors and VARs were selling "Red Hat licenses" to customers and then pocketing the money. When the customers phoned up Red Hat for support, they discovered that they didn't have a support contract with Red Hat after all (who had never heard of them). The only tool which Red Hat has to shut these people down is through trademark law.

          This isn't a "loophole" in free software licenses. If you're a software developer, consultant, or support person, the software is free (as in "freedom") but your good name and reputation belongs to you, and that is represented in your trademarks.

          1. Vic

            It's a trademark dispute, not a software license dispute.

            Sure - I was responding to the poster's specific point, not to the more general discussion. I probably should have been clearer...

            Vic.

      2. Riku

        "Debian had best be careful lest they become dependent on UBUNTU and not the other way around."

        If the whole "Startup Daemon Who Cannot Be Named" brawl is any indication, almost every distro has become dependent on Red Hat.

        Meh.

        1. madscientist42

          Not fully. I'm working on OpenEmbedded stuff to use Uselessd and other alternatives- to better advantage. Devuan's working on the fork of Debian to do the same things. It only takes a handful of skilled and dedicated people with everyone else backing their efforts to undo this. I'm doing MY part- how about everyone else?

      3. Jonathan Richards 1
        Linux

        > if it is all GPLd then there is no need to sign a licence is there

        I don't think that Canonical is trying to put a (sub-)licence on the *code*; from the tone of the CC statement in the link, I guess that they wanted Mint to sign a formal licence to use the UbuntuTM trademarks and other "intellectual property" (yuk).

        Vic is quite right: the GPL forbids adding further licences to GPL-ed code, and Canonical will know that, and they really won't want to go there!

    2. thames

      @sisk - "I mean I get that Kubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu,"

      Kubuntu isn't a derivative, it's a "flavour". The "flavours" such as Kubuntu get free use of Ubuntu servers, infrastructure, and bandwidth, and they get to use forms of the "Ubuntu" trademark. Canonical also used to pay someone to help work on Kubuntu (Riddell in fact), but after a number of years dropped that direct financial support due to the rather limited user base compared to the Unity flavour. Riddell then went to work for a company called "Blue Systems" who are trying to make a commercial product out of Kubuntu.

      An example of a "derivative" of Ubuntu would be Mint, which is also a commercial venture. They can use Ubuntu's source packages, but they can't use any of the Ubuntu trademarks and they're not supposed to use Canonical's servers to distribute their products. I say "not supposed to" because they were attempting to do so anyway, I'm not sure how that has been resolved (if it has).

      The issue as I mentioned in another post is the commercial use of Canonical trademarks by another company. "Flavours" are only allowed to be non-commercial community projects. If you want to make a commercial product, then you need to make a "derivative" as Mint has done.

      @sisk - "isn't this somewhat like if Stallman were to tell Torvalds that he was no longer the head of the kernel dev team"

      No, it's more like if Torvalds told someone that if he didn't smarten up he would get booted off the list of people allowed to use Linux kernel infrastructure and would have all his pull requests rejected. Which is exactly what happened to one of the Systemd developers not that long ago (as reported in El Reg).

      1. Fatman Silver badge

        RE: Stallman were to tell Torvalds that he was no longer the head of the kernel dev team

        No, it's more like if Torvalds told someone that if he didn't smarten up he would get booted off the list of people allowed to use Linux kernel infrastructure and would have all his pull requests rejected. Which is exactly what happened to one of the Systemd developers not that long ago (as reported in El Reg).

        I wonder who that was????

    3. Pookietoo
      Linux

      Re forking an open source project

      The various *buntus aren't forks, they are official variants of vanilla Ubuntu tweaked to different tastes. If one were to fork it wouldn't be allowed to call itself *buntu any more, because that's trademarked by Canonical.

    4. madscientist42

      I strongly suspect they'll play the "license us" game they apparently played with Mint- or similar.

      I'd be looking to improve something like Devuan at this point, if it were me. Canonical wants to play it that way, they're more than welcome to take their ball and go home. It's not like we're incapable of accomplishing this on our own (hey, wait....isn't that largely what they're doing?).

  3. Chris Miller
  4. Visual Echo

    bad batter made bitter

    I can't stand Ubuntu without KDE, but I'm disgusted with the bugs in Kubuntu. Hopefully, this will... yeah, right.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: bad batter made bitter

      Have you tried Netrunner? http://www.netrunner.com/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Linux

      Re: bad batter made bitter

      Opensuse is still the best KDE distro IMO and Plasma 5 is shaping up to be very good.

      Disclaimer - this is a shameless plug for my favourite distro.

  5. Peter Simpson 1
    Linux

    Ubuntu's too complicated now

    I used it for years -- until Unity. Around the same time, Shuttleworth started raising his media profile. Ubuntu got too complicated for me, seemed like they had some kind of agenda, but damned if I could figure out what it was -- I just knew they were taking Ubuntu in directions that didn't appeal.

    I'm using Mint now.

    1. msknight Silver badge

      Re: Ubuntu's too complicated now

      Agree entirely. I don't know what Shuttleworth's playing at, but after experiencing problems with the Jolla I decided to give the Ubuntu Phone a try ... and after 24 hours went back to struggling with the Jolla. In among the insanity was having to take the entire file system on the phone to read/write (with no going back) just to get some ring tone files in to the appropriate location in the file structure. Doh! ... oh, it was a wreck of a phone OS as far as I'm concerned.

      I still reckon that they should have made the Ubuntu One cloud a paying option for those who wanted to still use it, though. It was great for me but their decision to kill it completely was, IMHO, a missed opportunity to make some cash. And I still don't know what happened to the music service that was built in to it. It was great when it lasted.

      The only thing that I can conclude after these recent years is that Shuttleworth's vision is severely out of whack with what I, as a customer, actually want.

      I also use Mint ... and my friends are slowly converting to it as well. One came over to it recently from KDE, funnily enough...

      1. phil dude
        Headmaster

        Re: Ubuntu's too complicated now

        KDE is desktop environment/

        Mint is a Linux distribution.

        I am using Debian with some Mint packages, and my desktop is KDE.

        P.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Ubuntu's too complicated now

          Indeed.

          Most of my laptops are Mint distribution, but this one is Chrome OS, running Ubuntu as chroot (through crouton) with Cinnamon and a lot of the Mint packages. Confusing, but educational, and it makes a chromebook usable.

  6. Irongut

    Canonical licensing opaque, confusing and causing rifts in the community? No surprise. I know a number of excellent devs who will not work on Canonical backed projects because of the ridiculous developer agreement they make you sign.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Out of curiosity (and really not trolling here) can you point to an example of the agreement so other commentards can judge?

  7. thames

    It's a Trademark Dispute

    The story has waffled and hedged about the actual issue at stake. It's with regards to the use trademarks belonging to Canonical. Canonical's policy on the use of their trademarks is the same as Red Hat's, Mozilla's (Firefox), and, well, probably every other company. In fact, Canonical is probably more open and lenient about it than most (particularly Red Hat).

    The issue is that Canonical owns the "Ubuntu" trademark, and associated ones such as "Kubuntu", "Xubuntu", "Edubuntu", etc. These distro "flavours" are allowed to use the Ubuntu trademarks provided they agree to certain terms. Canonical hasn't got a lot of leeway here, it's how trademark law works in most countries if you want to keep your trademarks. If you allow free use of your trademarks, you lose the rights to them. The software licenses such as GPL, BSD, etc. are copyright licenses, not trademark licenses.

    This trademark license is the "license" mentioned in the story. It's not a license to the software, it's a license for the use of Canonical's trademarks. One of Canonical's terms is that you can't use their trademarks for a commercial product. You can make a commercial derivative of Ubuntu, but you must remove Canonical's trademarks before you do so. As another example, Oracle has to remove all Red Hat trademarks from their Oracle Linux product which is otherwise a clone of RHEL produced from Red Hat's source code releases.

    El Reg - "it seems Riddell had been pushing the UCC for some kind of clarification on the licensing of Ubuntu packages. "

    He got a pretty clear answer to that multiple times - the software is under free and open source licenses, but Canonical's trademarks belong to them and any other company (like say, Blue Systems for example) would have to come up with their own product names and raise their own profile through advertising and promotion. The problem is that he didn't like that answer and appeared to think that if he wouldn't shut up about it he would eventually get an answer that he did like. Eventually people got fed up with hearing about it and now he's out.

    The Community Council (a board with both Canonical and outside members which deals with community issues) has said it's nothing to do with them (i.e. take it up directly with Canonical), they're sick of hearing about it, and told him to put a sock in it. He wouldn't shut up about it, so they gave him the boot, reinforced by an email from Shuttleworth backing their decision.

    The main Ubuntu distro "flavour" is the one which uses the Unity desktop. This is what Canonical produces and supports. The others such as Kubuntu (KDE), Xubuntu (XFCE), Lubuntu (LXDE), etc. are basically hobby versions put out by enthusiasts. They get free use of Canonical server infrastructure and bandwidth and they can use most of the same binary packages as the main Ubuntu flavour. While there is unquestionably quite a few people who like those flavours, all together they're only a very small percentage of the total Ubuntu user base. The overwhelming bulk of users stick with the Unity desktop version. This is probably why Canonical has a rather limited amount of patience when toys get launched from prams on issues involving them.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It's a Trademark Dispute

      As far as I'm aware the core issues are as per thames' excellent summary. However, like a snowball turning into an avalanche sever the core has accreted a number of subsidiary issues about how it was handled, whether the CC followed Ubuntu's own rules on dispute resolution, whether Riddell was acting on his own account or on behalf of Kubuntu's own council, the Kubuntu community, the entire Ubuntu community or possible life, the universe and everything.

      A commentator over on LWN put in the disclaimer that he didn't have a dog in this fight which seems to me to sum up the whole situation. Neither do I as I migrated from Kubuntu to Debian some time ago and will migrate again by the time the version I consider to be sufficiently Unix-like ceases to be supported.

  8. jospoortvliet
    Mushroom

    More on Google Plus ;-)

    For some further thoughts from Mark Shuttleworth and Michael Hall (from the CC) see this conversation:

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JosPoortvliet/posts/2yGYMzzEaVz

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why was this going through my head while reading this article?

    No he's never met a nice South African

    And that's not bloody surprising man

    'Cause we're a bunch of arrogant b***tards

    Who hate Kubuntu people

  10. Jamesit

    "the Linux OS based on free software."

    Linux is the kernel, GNU is the OS.

    1. wayward4now

      "Linux is the kernel, GNU is the OS." No, it's not.

      "The operating system interacts directly with the hardware, providing common services to programs and insulating them from hardware idiosyncrasies. Viewing the system as a set of layers, the operating system is commonly called the system kernel, or just the kernel, emphasizing its isolation from user programs. Because programs are independent of the underlying hardware, it is easy to move them between UNIX systems running on different hardware if the programs do not make assumptions about the underlying hardware. "

      "The design of the unix operating system", Maurice J. Bach, Prentice/Hall, 1986, page 4:

      Please don't spread that f'ing LIE.

  11. Fink-Nottle

    Umbongoland

    Umbongoland? Who wrote the headline, Prince Phillip?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Umbongoland

      Umbongo Umbongo dey drink it in de congo. Some ad exec actually.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Umbongoland

        Another minor aspect of the Umbongo "soft drink" was it would not ferment.

        In spite of claiming to be fruity juice there must have been some non-volatile preservative in there as even boiling it up, then cooling it and adding yeast, etc, failed to produce any viable fermentation.

        I'm sure you will understand how important this information is to your whole day...

    2. your handle is already taken

      Re: Umbongoland

      I think it must run like the following:

      Canonical's founder is South African and Ubuntu is a Zulu word.

      South Africa is in Africa.

      The Zulus are African.

      You know what else is in Africa?

      The Congo, that's what.

      Remember that ad from the 80's?

      Wow, was it that long ago?

      For some kind of juice drink?

      Umbongo it was called. That was from the Congo, wasn't it?

      Sounds like Ubuntu too.

      All bongo players are African by the way.

      I know, instead of saying Canonical/Kubuntu, let's say Umbongoland.

      '

      I think I may have to lie down for a moment.

      Let's maybe not have that third whiskey at lunchtime in future, eh chaps?

  12. ske1fr
    Unhappy

    It's a shame you two don't get along...

    Oh dear.

    Tried OpenSuSE, too green, looked about five years old and my printer didn't work properly with built-in drivers and proprietary drivers were linked to out-of-date dependencies.

    Tried Mint, very pretty but again, printer didn't work properly with built-in drivers and proprietary drivers were linked to out-of-date dependencies.

    Tried New Ubuntu, can't stand Unity, printer didn't work properly with built-in drivers and proprietary drivers were linked to out-of-date dependencies.

    Back to tried-and-tested Kubuntu 12.04. Hopefully by the time the printer conks all this will have settled down and I can just install something and everyone and everything will be playing nicely.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: It's a shame you two don't get along... @ske1fr

      Out of interest, what is your printer?

      Is it a Lexmark, or one of the WinPrint laser printer that were popular a while back?

      I had problems getting an HP LaserJet 1000 working on one of the older Ubuntu flavours (I think it's Lubuntu - the netbook I'm re-purposing as a print server has a Celeron processor that doesn't support PAE), and ended up having to use the HP provided binary blob.

      Dreadful printers outside of Windows, but I wanted a laser printer for a particular purpose, and I grabbed it for very little at a car boot sale!

      1. Pookietoo
        Linux

        Re: It's a shame you two don't get along... @ske1fr

        I got a Brother HL-1340 from Freegle, a drum and a couple of cartridges from eBay for £30, and it works perfectly with Ubuntu. There's nothing wrong with Linux printer support, just people who bought the wrong printer. :-)

    2. Sceptic Tank

      Re: It's a shame you two don't get along...

      You may need a new printer.

    3. elreg subscriber
      Happy

      Re: It's a shame you two don't get along...

      "Tried New Ubuntu, can't stand Unity"

      Do you realize you are not *forced* to use Unity with Ubuntu?

      Your choice of GUI is totally in your control.

      Just 'apt-get install kde-window-manager' (or whatever window manager you prefer) on top of Ubuntu.

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