The history of Ubuntu has been one filled with red ink, and its a story about a company trying hard to stop the flow of red ink.
Ubuntu launched Ubuntu Netbook (trying to get into the netbook craze after the ship had sailed). Then in an effort to design a better netbook, Canonical focused entirely on Ubuntu Netbook, rebranding it as Unity and turning it into the default desktop (despite all the users screaming they didn’t want a netbook interface!). Canonical began selling search results to Yahoo, selling MP3s through Amazon. They tried to get into the server business with Shuttleworth talking about how Ubuntu was gonna be “the desktop Linux” for the masses. They tried to come up with Ubuntu Phone and Ubuntu TV. Recently they integrated Amazon directly into the Dash menu! The entire history of the company is has been that of desperation trying to find SOME way, any way, to stem the flow of red ink and find a positive revenue stream.
Today however, marks a new low for Canonical and Ubuntu. ubuntu.com got a facelift.
Check it out. Go download their latest 12.10 ISO image. Immediately after the site tells you that “Ubuntu is completely free to download” you will be taken to their new donation page which tells you to “put your money where your mouth is”
So let’s look at this list… and see how relevant it is. Three points caught my eye.
Make the desktop more amazing
How many users sent in comments, suggestions, and emails to Canonical only to have Shuttleworth shoot them down on page one of his blog? Hundreds? Thousands, perhaps?
Perhaps you think that for $2 a version of GNOME-Fallback will be designed that is closer to the desktop you fell in love with years ago. Not a chance…
Maybe you imagine that for $2 intellihide will be redesigned and brought back after Shuttleworth announced that it was being discontinued. Dream on…
Now Canonical shows their true colors; they only plan to listen to users if you pay them. And do you imagine that your $2 donation will suddenly make Ubuntu better?
Phone and tablet versions of Ubuntu
Didn’t we already determine this ship had sailed a long time ago Ubuntu? If you aren’t in the phone and tablet market now, you won’t be any time soon with any measurable amount of success.
Community participation in Ubuntu development
This requires money now!? Canonical developers are paid by Canonical. Users should not have to pay for the privilege of participating in development. In fact, they don’t need to. Users can provide input at all levels of the development process, or even fork and develop packages of their own! http://www.ubuntu.com/community/get-involved explains how to get involved with Ubuntu, and it doesn’t carry a pricetag.
But we already determined above that Canonical’s plan for the future doesn’t include it’s users and they only listen to users if you pay them.
Better support for flavours like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu
This thinly veiled attempt at extorting money from users angers me the most! It is the stupidest bulletpoint ever to be included on the donation form. Shuttleworth and Canonical officially disavowed these other-desktop versions of Ubuntu some time ago. Canonical announced that these versions of Ubuntu would be supported with infrastructure but not with money. Don’t imagine your donated money is going to fund this anytime soon!
Besides, Kubuntu is not being supported by Canonical anymore; their new financial supporter is Blue Systems. So why is Canonical asking for money for a project that someone else is already supporting?
Tip to Canonical – they help make it happen
I imagine many people will be disillusioned with they see this donation page. They may finally realize how Canonical values their input when it doesn’t come with a cash donation.
Tip to users - Canonical doesn’t make it happen. Ubuntu’s software stack is getting to be getting worse and worse as time goes on. Shuttleworth’s only true concern is picking out / unique adjectives / for Ubuntu’s name. Community support is apparently meaningless unless you donate. And Canonical isn’t above lying to get money, even exaggerating their involvement in projects they dropped (such as the now defunct Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and Kubuntu)
Perhaps this will be the driving impetus that some people need to switch to a Linux version that truly listens and supports its users. Perhaps it’s time to realize that it’s time for a switch! Perhaps it’s time to boycott Ubuntu!
In the meantime, Canonical begins it’s quick slide to the bottom, begging the entire way down.