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Monday, 15 February 2010 10:47

I'm not driven by Microsoft hatred: Shuttleworth

Canonical chief executive Mark Shuttleworth says his creation of the Ubuntu GNU/Linux operating system is not motivated in any way by animosity towards Microsoft.

He was responding to queries from iTWire about a recent blog post that has claimed  Canonical is becoming the new Microsoft.

"I admire many of the things they (Microsoft) have done. I think it is as wrong to demonise the people who work at a company as it is to demonise people of a particular colour, nationality or other demographic," Shuttleworth said.

"I think there are appalling abuses of market dominance that have been perpetrated at Microsoft, and I'm proud of the fact that Ubuntu gives people a real choice between continued serfdom and freedom that is useful, safe and genuine.

"But I'm not here to punish Microsoft, or hate them, I'm here to build a better way, if I can. It will be hard, but we can. And in the cases where we have common cause, I am happy to work with Microsoft. That may be a hard concept for people who think that life is easier to understand if you have an enemy to make your own cause right, but I find that attitude leads to bigotry and bad results, and makes it impossible to get past the wrongs of the past.

The blog post had listed a number of reasons why the writer thought Ubuntu was allegedly becoming the new Microsoft: the inclusion of Mono as a default; the creation of Ubuntu One, a proprietary software repository; removing the GIMP and other applications from Ubuntu; changing the default search engine to Yahoo!; discussion about what proprietary applications should be included in the Ubuntu repositories; and the appointment of Matt Asay as chief operating officer.


Shuttleworth did not go into specifics about each of these points, saying instead that "each of the items raised in the blog post you are referring to has been discussed in detail in public forums. I think the folks from Canonical, and leaders in the Ubuntu community, have represented our intentions accurately".

He added: "There will be detractors and supporters for any decision we may take which affects our users, but our willingness to act firmly in the face of change is what keeps our platform vibrant and relevant, and we won't shirk that responsibility."

Shuttleworth said his personal goal, and that of all the Canonical people he worked with was to bring the benefits of free software to the widest possible audience. "That's our relentless focus, and there are many cases where we have walked the long way round to remain consistent with those principles."

He said the vast majority of the work done by Canonical was immediately available to all under free terms. "That includes pieces which are deeply strategic in nature, like Launchpad, which is published under terms compatible with the latest thinking on free web services. The proprietary work we do never involves shipping Canonical-proprietary software in Ubuntu, is limited to network services, helps underwrite all of that, and is entirely optional to those who use Ubuntu. It's also been adopted on other platforms, too."

Overall, he said he was very proud of the work Canonical did in the free software community. "If we are as successful as I hope we will be, then the world will for the first time have a commercial grade platform that is freely available to all. That's not true with the existing dominant commercial Linux players. I am entirely devoted to that proposition, and enjoy working in the Ubuntu community with thousands of others who feel the same way."

"As it happens, working with Yahoo! never (to the best of my knowledge) involved any dealings with Microsoft. Nor were we willing to accept Microsoft's terms of IP licensing, as Novell did. But if there are constructive places where we can work with Microsoft, or Oracle, or IBM, all of whom ship quite a lot of proprietary software, we certainly will engage openly and in good faith. And I believe we do so with the full support of the leaders of the Ubuntu community."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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