Ubuntu and Mozilla, Together?

I was reading this interesting article by someone on buntfu called “Ubuntu and Mozilla: The inevitable alliance“. There isn’t a way to comment on the actual article, there is no author links/names and it is in a sense simply idle speculation.

But right down there are the bottom of the page is some interesting misconceptions about the nature of Google, Canonical and Mozilla. The old chesnut that confuses Ubuntu with Canonical, the former is a foundation which was never used and the later is a privately held business in the Isle of Man (UK) which controls the entire business and community. Mozilla is a Corporation and a Foundation (in multiple parts) and Google is a share held corporation with a responsibility to it’s share holders only.

It’s possible that Canonical could be sold to Google, but Mark would either want serious control or some sort of section that allows design and implementation of features to roll through. I think the job of Ubuntu isn’t finished yet and I don’t think Mark is ready to simply sell for cash (more? what ever for?) or give up control.

The combination of Mozilla and Ubuntu? Well both have really weird trademark policies that cause grief, which plenty of delicate discussion was needed to resolve. So I suppose they’re common in that sense, but otherwise? Mozilla focuses so much of it’s efforts on the Windows platform that their Linux releases seem more like the personal project of a handful of people, or at least that’s my perception given how much faster Windows Firefox via wine is compared to native Ubuntu Firefox.

I can see the commonality, I just think it’d take a bit of shifting in the industry to end up with the two in a closer relationship. People are already mooting moving to Chromium as the default web browser in Ubuntu and there are plenty of other web browsers in the repository that are moving to webkit and away from gekko.

To sum, I think all these organisations are very different beasts with different primary goals, I can see closer relationships, but merging or buying would seem unlikely at this time.

Good Luck Mark and Jane

I just heard the news from Mark’s own blog, he’s shifting from Canonical CEO to a more focused Steve Jobsian roll for Ubuntu. In his place will step Jane Silber.

I had the good fortune of working with Jane briefly on Ubuntu One, and she struck me as very capable and strong. An excellent choice to move the business forwards, to handle the day to day money making.

I don’t think anyone is particularly surprised that Mark wants to take a more hands on roll with the technical and design direction of Ubuntu, his very active participation in the Ayatana mailing list should have given a hint where the passion was. I figure that the day to day operations of Canonical were just getting in the way of the fun stuff.

I offer my congratulations and best of look to everyone.

Buying Software in Ubuntu

The new Ubuntu App Center is an interesting addition/replacement to the old Add/Remove Applications program and the complicated synaptic package manager. It promises to bring simplicity to installing new apps to Ubuntu. It’s main function will be to unify several smaller apps into a common and manageable interface. (Add/Remove, Synaptic, Update Manager, etc)

The Ubuntu App Center used to be called the “Ubuntu Software Store”, with lots of the concepts shaped around the idea that this was a shop where we can buy “for free” all the programs we want to install. It’s a nice idea, and it does fit with the operating mode of chasing Apple even when Apple are copying Ubuntu. But it did lead to an awful lot of confusion and thankfully it was changed to something that didn’t sound like “We’re going to selling proprietary applications and take away all your hard won Freedom” *read this with tongue firmly in cheek*

I’m going to leave aside the thorny question of weather Ubuntu really needed a whole new app installer.

fundingThis does bring up an important question though: If Ubuntu ever offers the ability to channel money into the pockets of developers, should the focus be on rewarding proprietary vendors, or supporting a Free Software economy through it’s software deployment channel?

This is a thought experiment on my part.

If products must be sold, why then must they be proprietary ones?

Why not channel money back into the software projects that support Ubuntu?

Upstream the money.

If software is to flow downstream, then with bug reports and ideas we should be also able to send a golden stream of coin to help those up there, doing all the coding work, cope with the realities of a real life.

To support Free Software projects we could have optional amounts selectable on installation a kin to Jamendo in Rythembox, everything from Free to $200. So support for a project can be channeled directly through the operating system. Or better if someone has tried and liked a software package, provide them an easy way to pay the developers with money (or time).

I could also see this in things like the Flash player, want to install flass-nonfree? we’d like $20 please, we’re going to give it to the Gnash Foundation to make sure work moves forwards on the free replacements. If you don’t like it, then install flash-nonfree from a PPA or from source (I know, crule, but it’s supposed to be a thought experiment).

For the sake of argument let us say that Adobe saw the error of their ways and starting selling proprietary Adobe Illustrator through the Ubuntu Store. I would then like to see Inkscape get some money every time it was sold. Why? because channeling software products is a valuable service and Canonical should not sell it’s values in Freedom so lightly as to ignore the nature of the products it channels.

Anyway, this thought experiment is pure fantasy so long as Ubuntu doesn’t handle money in any way. Once it does however, the questions must be asked about weather we believe in Libre Software or Gratis Software.