Has GNOME Rejected Canonical help? Shuttleworth Responds

Mar 10, 2011

"Unity is a shell for Gnome. Now Gnome leadership have to decide if they want the fruit or that competition to be an asset to Gnome, or not." ~Mark Shuttleworth founder of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Founder and former CEO of Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth, responds to Dave Neary's post entitled Has GNOME rejected Canonical help?

When Canonical made the decision to make Unity the default desktop, some people questioned the GNOME/Canonical relationship. Adding fuel to this fire was the recent distribution split of revenue generated by Banshee. These decisions caused Ubuntu, GNOME and even Fedora community members to ask why these things were done. In Neary's Has GNOME rejected Canonical help? post, he states that he has repeatedly read Canonical and Ubuntu people saying, “We offered our help to GNOME, and they didn’t want it."

Neary gives examples of what other people have said to back up the "they didn't want it" claim by Canonical and Ubuntu people.

Today Shuttleworth responds on his blog. "Competition is tough on the contestants, but it gets great results for everyone else," Shuttleworth writes. He talks about the challenge for the GNOME leadership and outlines what Canonical/Ubuntu tried to communicate about Unity to GNOME but to the open source community.

"When we articulated our vision for Unity, we were very clear that we wanted to deliver it under the umbrella of Gnome... We described Unity as 'a shell for Gnome' from the beginning, and we have been sincere in that view. We have worked successfully and happily with many, many Gnome projects to integrate Unity API’s into their codebase," Shuttleworth says.

Shuttleworth notes, "We’ve failed." He adds, "Much of the language, and much of the decision making I’ve observed within Gnome, is based on the idea that Unity is competition WITH Gnome, rather than WITHIN Gnome."

Shuttleworth goes on to analyze the rationale given for the rejection of Canonical’s indicator APIs.

Shuttleworth also points to Aaron Seigo's post about this decision being "as much a rejection of cross-desktop standards as it was a rejection of Canonical’s code."

Shuttleworth notes that it might be time to look at strengthening the Freedesktop.org forum and adds, "Gnome has failed to take that forum seriously, as evidenced by the frustrations expressed elsewhere. But perhaps if we had both Unity and KDE working well there, Gnome might take a different view. And that would be very good for the free software desktop."


  • Mendacious at best

    Shuttleworth's blog is a carefully constructed mosaic of the most mendacious interpretations of each little factoid that supports Canonical's role "within" the FOSS community.

    The brutal reality is that Canonical offered its code, without compromise, without cooperation, on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. There was no attempt to adhere to Gnome's procedures, and no attempt to adhere to community standards of behaviour.

    The insertion of large segments of code which is in its effect proprietary (in that it excludes community cooperation) disadvantages all other contributors to Gnome, and puts Gnome's primary product at risk.

    Shuttleworth is playing a dangerous game with the (free) goose.
  • time for change?

    Maybe Canonical's foray with QT in Unity (2D) will embolden them to cut Gnome loose and finally pay more attention to KDE. Stock KDE is far from perfect, but IMO is much more fertile ground on which to build a truly compelling desktop.
    Cut GNOME loose and let them enjoy their sandpit. Then G devs just need to shed few users and they really will be able to do what they want in peace.
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