Linux Credit Where Due

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I read an article on ZDNET. You can read it for yourself here. The Author was raising the point about companies who release Linux based services but fail to even mention Linux or their services’ heritage and what provides the actual base for their service. The Author points the finger specifically at Google’s Android and Canonical’s Ubuntu. I just want to extend on the Authors’ thoughts a little more.

Canonical once touted Ubuntu as being ‘Linux for Human Beings’. It was the tagline that everyone identified with Ubuntu. Browsing through the official documentation on the Ubuntu website, since version 10.04 it seems that the terms Linux have indeed been gradually omitted as has the tagline ‘Linux for Human Beings’. And of all the information on the website related to the latest version 12.04, I couldn’t find any reference to the fact that Ubuntu is a Linux based distribution. At least not within the most obvious consumer view.

And looking at Google’s Android website, the scene is much the same. There is some mention of its Linux foundations on the Android Developer site, but not really on the consumer site. To see for yourself, perform a custom Google search by copying/pasting the following into Google:

site:android.com linux

There is only one mention of Android being based on Linux. The other results in the search are simple SDK related information and nothing of relevance.

We must make todays users aware of what they are using and of the fact that it is Linux. Otherwise we are causing another generation of innocent non-aware users who have no technical idea of their OS. You would already be surprised at how many people have never heard of anything called “Linux”, yet they are well aware of what “Android” is!

This saddens me. Of all the work that is done by Linux kernel developers, I think it should be pure respect that any persons or company that releases an operating system or any other service based on Linux should at least mention this fact.

On one hand, Linux is free and open-source and there is no license that prevents it from used, modified, renamed and non-referenced. When a company release a service which uses the Linux kernel as its base core, should they feel guilty if they don’t? After all, we do live in a very technical era. And especially when it comes to the free and open-source sector. We have services based on other service based on other services and so forth. Some services it can even be difficult for a new user to determine its exact heritage. A good example being Linux Mint, based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian which runs the Linux kernel. If you research the topic, you’ll find many similar examples.

And on the other hand, does it really matter? Just because a service is in fact based on Linux, is it really necessary for its developers and creators to feel the necessity to mention the fact? Probably not. The time may have finally arrived where Linux kernel developers just have to accept that all their efforts and hard coding may not necessarily be getting any mention of in future products and services. As an occasional kernel hacker myself, I can tell you that it would not stop me from my contributions. Because it is not why I do it. I can only assume most other kernel contributors feelvery much the same.

In a nutshell, that’s exactly why the Linux kernel is developed today. To provide a stable kernel and base for which to build other services around to create something usable. Not to get credit for their work. That’s not what is wanted or in fact needed. Regardless, development of the Linux kernel will continue forth.

Is this fair? Does it really matter? You let me know in our comments section.

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