Commercialized Linux – The Great Divide

I have been quite absent from Unixmen for almost 2 weeks now. I do apologize, but have been very busy with other work tasks and projects.
I actually started this article during my absence, but there was a reason it has taken me so long to finish. Read on and see why.

There’s an ugly side to Linux. Or to be more specific, Ubuntu Linux. It has suffered from the evil grips of what I describe as ‘Commercialism’.

For the past few weeks, on behalf of Unixmen I have been in negotiations with Canonical for an interview from someone regarding the final stages of development of Ubuntu 12.04 ‘Precise Pangolin’. I was initially hopeful for an interview with Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu and  Canonical. But I also understood that getting an interview with Mark would be highly unlikely. So I sent off the email requesting an interview. I awaited the reply in anticipation. Sure enough, I did get a reply from one of Mark’s secretaries. I was informed that my request would be forwarded to Mark Shuttleworth. 2 days later I received another reply from a different person saying that Mark could not be interviewed at present but my email would be forwarded on to someone who can organize someone else to be interviewed. Confused? So was I.

I patiently awaited the next email, curious as to who would be answering my questions. Sadly, that was about as far as I could get to getting an interview with anyone at Canonical. I have sent and received a few emails since, speaking to someone who expressed their disappointment with some of my work. Or something I wrote about that could possibly be seen as tarnishing the professional image of Canonical and Ubuntu. And although it was never specifically mentioned, I suspect this is the reason that an interview will not be given and I have received no further emails from this person or anyone at Canonical since!

Funny, Canonical seems to want to maintain a professional image, yet the correspondence I have received them has been nothing short of a little bit childish. Throughout, I have personally remained composed, polite and professional. It seems Canonical has suffered from the same communication problems as most other large businesses and corporations suffer from. I don’t know whether it is a communication problem throughout Canonical or something personal with a very small selection of staff. Either way, I don’t think this sort of ‘community brush-off’ is good for Linux and its very enthusiastic community members. I mean, sure these companies support Linux both financially and through providing the required infrastructure for things to move along and progress. But without us, the community and user-base, there would be nothing for them to support in the first place. It is such a shame that the difference between Canonical and the Ubuntu Community is such a great divide.

This article is not a rant or complaint against Canonical and/or Ubuntu, but I am rather bringing forward the issue and raising the question of whether Canonical is suffering from ‘Commercialism’. It’s just not the way Linux was conceived and not the way that the Linux eco-system and community of developers, enthusiasts and users co-operate and unite.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic and whether you’ve had any similar experience when corresponding with the companies behind Linux. Let us know.