A Canonical Controversy

Remember these past few months where Ubuntu/Canonical’s contribution to Gnome (or lack thereof) was called into question and the topic was on the tip of every Linux news website tongue (see closing thoughts for info links)?  Let’s throw some gasoline on that fire for your Friday!!  It’s time for a Barbecue!

Today, Mark Shuttleworth’s blog was added into Planet Gnome after he made a request for it to be added.  Why is this a controversy?  Mainly because some people want blogs that are featured on Planet Gnome to be from authors that are active in the Gnome community and to actually blog about Gnome as a topic.  If Canonical’s contributions to Gnome are being called into question (as evident from the links in closing thoughts below) then what results is a controversial decision for Mark’s blog to be added in.

If you read the comments on the buglist issue, you will see that there are quite a few people in opposition to this move.  According to the Planet Gnome FAQ, there are criteria for being added.  Does Mark’s blog fit the criteria?  A close examination will result in a resounding NO.

Examining the Evidence

The evidence?  Mark has only one, single post on the topic of Gnome on his entire blog.  Is it recent?  If 2008 is recent, then yes, it’s recent.  If that’s not recent enough for you then no, it fails horribly on being recent.

Up next, let’s pull from the Planet Gnome FAQ, “It generally helps to write a few words about you and your contributions to GNOME, or why you think your blog should appear on Planet GNOME”.  Looking at the bug that was filed we find no explanation as to why it should be added other than “I contribute via Canonical”.  This phrase is going to be flogged by those people that were/are irked with Canonicals level of contributions upstream.

Lastly, since Mark is the face of his company, does this mean Gnome supports his company more than say…CEO of Red Hat or Novell since those CEO’s are not added on Planet Gnome?  Does this constitute a conflict of interest?  Does it signal favoritism?  If one person believes it to be this way, everyone loses…because there will be a debate about it and it WILL divide people and not unite them.

To be honest, I can’t believe Mark even asked to be on Planet Gnome as the CEO of Canonical.  He should know right out of the gate that it would look bad if he was added in…if it were me, I’d remove myself immediately.

Closing Thoughts

I said that this would be gasoline on a fire because of the firestorm debate surrounding how much Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth’s company, gives back to upstream projects like Gnome.  For more on that debate [1] [2] [3].

This is just the icing on top of the cake in my opinion.  Whoever decides what goes on Gnome and what doesn’t should really evaluate their processes and stop looking at a persons stature or bling factor and instead on the merit for them to be there.  In this instance, Marks blog provides little to merit its presence on Planet Gnome.

Please note, I’m not saying Mark hasn’t done anything at all for Gnome…just saying he doesn’t blog about it (and the evidence supports me on this claim)…and before a blog is added to Planet Gnome it should have more than one post in the past 7 years (yes, he started blogging in 2003) to be considered as a good candidate to be there.

What do you think?  Should Mark be on Planet Gnome?  Whether you agree or disagree, please state your reasons in a comment below!

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

19 thoughts on “A Canonical Controversy”

  1. You are picking nits. Mark has something relevant and important to say, so let him say it to those who are most directly being addressed.

    1. Yep, he had 1 thing important to say about Gnome in 7 years so I guess since he’s added in, he’ll get up another post to bring his total to 2 posts on Gnome in the next 7 years. Here’s to 2017!

      All kidding aside, he should get the same look that every blogger would get. I don’t think he was held to the same standard everyone else is and I think that’s an injustice and unfair.

      1. actually it makes the point significantly less valid, as there is no longer a comparison to be made with the CEO of RedHat etc.
        I wish everyone would stop trying to punish the man that has spent loads of his own money to make the GNU/Linux desktop better. Really lame, if we punish him enough, he WILL get the idea, and go away. Even you people don’t want that, let me assure you.

  2. I think it’s progressive that he’s included; now this particular spotlight will encourage him to directly include GNOME in his musings, which benefits the whole community. If he doesn’t do this, then the piece of rope that has either been extended to (or taken by) him, will do it’s own job to the satisfaction of some.

    Mark Shuttleworth doesn’t neatly fit into contemporary pigeon holes and that’s what makes him the draw and success that he is because otherwise we’d all be Shuttleworth’s. So in other words, we cannot expect the “rules” to effectively work with him and shouldn’t get uptight when we find ourselves recursing through them – better to let go and move on up – there are always bigger and brighter loops to explore!


    1. I think he shouldn’t be able to bend rules to fit his will. I think his blog should get the shake that every single other blog out there gets when being considered for addition to planet Gnome. The fact that he’s treated differently is injustice at its finest and an absolute atrocity. In free software, everyone should be treated equally regardless of race, creed, color, religion, and who they work for or how much of a public figure they are.

  3. Shiping Gnome to 10 million desktops is a contribution to Gnome, isn’t it? More marketshareleads to more developers.

    As for contributions, Gnome should start accepting them. For starters, Ubuntu notification system is very cool. Gnome should also change the default -ugly as hell- theme & icons. Not with humanity icons or ambiance/radiance themes necessarily, but with something well designed (Elementary would be a great choice for example)
    Isn’t it weird that KDE distributions never change the great “Air” theme and Oxygen icons, while ALL Gnome distributions change the hideous theme and icons??

    And the newest screenshots of Gnome shell, look a lot like Ubuntu Unity, but Canonical didn’t get any credit.

    1. Shipping Gnome is fine…but his blog says nothing about it. So, looking at his posting history doesn’t show him to be very vocal on Gnome. Since it’s his BLOG that’s being considered for addition to planet Gnome…it’s lacking in content quite a bit…and having multiple posts on topic is something the editors are supposed to consider but didn’t in this case.

  4. Mark isn’t CEO, Jane Silber is. Mark is a lead visionary in the design team and owner.

    Besides that, this blog post is quite the internal attack. Do you often go after your friends in the Free Software community?

    1. It’s not an attack…I’m just talking about his blog and the lack of posts on Gnome.

      Since belonging to planet Gnome is supposed to be about what developers develop for Gnome and Mark has a single post on the subject, I find that his blog is lacking.

      The point of everything is that it doesn’t matter what his company does for Gnome, what matters is if he has a history of posting on the topic of Gnome and it’s development as to be included. The answer is no.

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