Linux Credit Where Due

Linux Credit Where Due

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: 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.

  • robert pogson

    To the individual installing GNU/Linux, the fact that Linux has drivers that work “out of the box” is vital. To the individual running GNU/Linux on IT, the fact that Linux manages resources so well is vital. To the OEM, the fact that GNU/Linux or Android/Linux are available for $0 and perform so well is vital.

    Why a distro like Ubuntu GNU/Linux or its parent organization Canonical are reluctant to tout the merits of key elements is beyond me. Same goes for Android/Linux and Google. Perhaps they believe the models of M$ and Apple are the right way to do IT just because it pays. I think that’s misguided. Motivation and reflection on cause and effect and freedom are important and should not be shoved under the carpet.

    One argument given is that M$ has so tarnished the “Linux” brand that it is better to avoid it. There’s a crime for that. Where are the charges? Why should the world of IT go along with a bully? It would be much more honest and effective to polish the image that has been tarnished. Where I live and in much of the world, */Linux is a shining gem so I discount this argument. It’s more likely a matter of being psyched out by the enemy. It’s in M$’s interest that Linux be tarnished. Not mentioning Linux in the feature-lists of products is aiding the enemy.

  • tobisgd

    ” Why a distro like Ubuntu GNU/Linux or its parent organization Canonical
    are reluctant to tout the merits of key elements is beyond me.”
    That is rather simple. They don’t want their users to use Linux, they want them to run Ubuntu. Once the user recognizes that Ubuntu is only one Linux distribution out of many that user is free to change to any other distro if he doesn’t like something about Ubuntu/Canonical. For the same reason Canonical ports their services (like ubuntu One) to MacOS X and Windows, but not to other Linux distributions. They want to be the one and only, not one amongst many others. They are still a commercial entitiy that plans to make money with Ubuntu. That doesn’t work if their users recognize that they can easily change.

  • Boycott Canonical

    Boycott Canonical.

  • rim

    As previous posters implied, it is ironic that you call it Linux, and not GNU/Linux.  If you called it GNU/Linux, you could make the argument that it should be Android/Linux, but since you simply call it Linux, I don’t think you have much credibility. 

    When asked to call it GNU/Linux, most people responded, that’s not necessary.  So now, when asked to call it Android/Linux, most people would respond, that’s not necessary, and those who recommended GNU/Linux would say “I told you so.”

  • Joehulanwebersone

    Boycott Canonical.

  • Jonathan Wilson

    While I think that having the penguin logo on devices based upon Gnu/Linux would be a good idea, as its a global [ie covers a multitude of sins] brand identity, where do you take the enough is enough stance over levels within levels of based on.

    Should Ubuntu be called Ubuntu/Debian/Gnu/Linux?

    What about mint/ubuntu/debian/gnu/linux?

    Also what happens when/if gnu ever gets traction with its own hurd kernel. Would the branding be even further fragmented?

    [note] just after I typed the above I went and double checked Tux, it seems that its the logo of the linux kernel and not gnu/linux so even that is probably not applicable.
    [note] it seems that it is already fragmented with debian/gnu/hurd project.

    As for android, its more an illegitimate child than other derivatives as its not really based on anything, but rather takes bits and pieces ad-hoc with replacement core librbaries and mashes its own front end into the result.

    Although, the above said, android is trying to return to the linux kernel with its mainlining project.

    Sheesh, the more I typed and looked into it, the more it became less clear ;-/

  • aikiwolfie

    I can’t actually remember anybody ever complaining that Solaris, BSD or Mac OS X are all basically UNIX distributions that don’t broadcast to the world ever other second they are UNIX. I mean Mac users don’t say they’re running UNIX Mac OS X Lion. Just OS X or Lion is sufficient.

    Similarly, nobody would care if I failed to mention my Dell XPS 720 has an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU running at 2.66GHz. If I’m talking about Windows 7 I don’t normally need to refer to the exact build number. And well then there’s all the other technologies that are used in Linux distributions.

    I don’t think Samba is part of GNU. I could be wrong. But I’m fairly sure it’s a completely separate project. Nobody says they’re running GNU/Linux/Samba. Similarly nobody goes around saying they run GNU/Linux/KDE or GNU/Linux/Samba/XFCE. I mean just how ridiculous does this have to get?

    When Samsung build a new TV or set-top-box or whatever they don’t list all the components in the product name used to market the product. And that is what a distribution name is. It’s a label that identifies a combination of components that are brought together to create a fully working modern computer operating system.

    Android is a “product”. Ubuntu is a “product”.

  • robert pogson

    Then we have Windows this, that and the kitchen sink…

    Robert Pogson
    Have server, will travel…

  • Chrisjones

    Android and Ubuntu are not products. They are services. The original concept of software is software as a service. It’s only Microsoft that made software a product.

  • Startrek Steve

    Personally, I’d rather Linux was used, and never mentioned, than not used at all. Its for the common good after all. :-)