[personal profile] mjg59
I had no access to the internet for most of my childhood. Nobody in my area knew anything about programming. I learned a great deal from a number of CDs that included free software source code and archives of project mailing lists. When I got to university, I learned even more by being able to develop a Debian-based OS for use in our computer facilities. That gave me the experience and knowledge that I needed to become involved in Debian development, which in turn gave me the background required to be able to help Ubuntu become the first free software operating system to work out of the box on modern laptops. From there, I've been able to build my career around developing free software.

Ubuntu can be translated as "I am who I am because of who we all are". I am who I am because people made the choice to release their software under licenses that permitted examination, modification and redistribution. I am who I am because I was able to participate in communities that took advantages of those freedoms to produce new and better software. I am who I am because when my priorities differed from those of existing communities, it was still possible for me to benefit from their work and for them to benefit from mine.

Free software doesn't mean that the software is entirely free of restrictions. While a core aspect is the right to distribute modified versions of code, it has never been fundamental to free software that you be able to do so while still claiming that the code is the original version. Various approaches have been taken to make it possible for users to distinguish modified versions, ranging from simply including license terms that require modified versions be marked as such, to licenses that require that you change the name of the package if you modify it. However, what's probably the most effective approach has been to apply trademark law to the problem. Mozilla's trademark policy is an example of this - if you modify the code in ways that aren't approved by Mozilla, you aren't entitled to use the trademarks.

A requirement that you avoid use of trademarks in an infringing way is reasonable. Mozilla products include support for building with branding disabled, which makes it very straightforward for a user to build a modified version of Firefox that can be redistributed without any trademark issues. Red Hat have a similar policy for Fedora and RHEL[1] - you simply replace the packages that contain the branding and you're done.

Canonical's IP policy around Ubuntu is fundamentally different. While Mozilla make it clear that you simply no longer have a right to use the trademarks under trademark law, Canonical appear to require that you remove all trademarks entirely even if using them wouldn't be a violation of trademark law. While Mozilla restrict the redistribution of modified binaries that include their trademarks, Canonical insist that you rebuild everything even if the package doesn't contain any trademarks. And while Mozilla give you a single build option that creates binaries that conform with their trademark requirements, Canonical will refuse to tell you what you have to do.

When asked about this at SCALE earlier this year, Mark Shuttleworth claimed that Ubuntu's policy was consistent with that of other projects. This is inaccurate. Nobody else requires that you rebuild every package before you can redistribute it in a modified distribution - such a restriction is a violation of freedom 2 of the Free Software Definition, and as a result the binary distributions of Ubuntu are not free software. Nobody else refuses to discuss whether you're required to remove non-infringing trademarks in order to be able to redistribute. Nobody else responds to offers to make it easier for users to produce non-infringing derivatives with a flat refusal.

Mark claims that I'm only raising this issue because I work for a competitor and wish to harm Canonical. Nothing could be further from the truth. I began discussing this before working for my current employers - my previous employers had no meaningful market overlap with Canonical at all. The reason I care is because I care about free software. I care about people being able to derive new and interesting things from existing code. I care about a small team of people being able to take Ubuntu and make something better in the same way that Ubuntu did with Debian. I care about ensuring that users receive the freedom to do this without having to jump through a significant number of hoops in the process. Ubuntu has been a spectacularly successful vehicle for getting free software into the hands of users. Mark's generosity in funding this experiment has undoubtedly made the world a better place. Canonical employs a large number of talented developers writing high quality software, many of whom I'm fortunate enough to be able to call friends. And Canonical are squandering that by restricting the rights of their users and alienating the free software community.

I want others to be who they are because of my work and the work of all the others like me. Anything that makes that more difficult saddens me, and so I do what I can to fix it. I criticise Canonical's policies in the hope that we, as a community, can convince Canonical to agree that this kind of artificial barrier to modification hurts us more than it helps them. In many ways, Canonical remain one of our best hopes for broadening the reach of free software, and this is why it's unfortunate that they do so in a way that makes it more difficult for people to have the same experiences that I did.

[1] While it's easy to turn a trademark infringing version of RHEL into a non-infringing one, Red Hat don't provide publicly available binary packages for RHEL. If you get hold of them somehow you're entitled to redistribute them freely, but Red Hat's subscriber agreement indicates that if you do this as a Red Hat customer you will lose access to further binary updates - a provision that I find utterly repugnant. Its inclusion reduces my respect for Red Hat and my enthusiasm for working with them, and given the official Red Hat support for CentOS it appears to make no sense whatsoever. Red Hat should drop it.

Date: 2016-02-19 12:23 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I agree with all you've said about Canonical and Ubuntu; they've built something that doesn't allow others to build further upon it, and in doing so they're hurting the community and hurting Free Software.

Rather than attempting to convince Canonical, though, I think the right message should be "don't build on Ubuntu, build on Debian". Canonical has made it abundantly clear that they don't want derivatives; meanwhile, Debian has made it clear that they do.

Date: 2016-02-19 03:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
> Ubuntu has been more successful than Debian at spreading free software to people who hadn't previously been exposed to it,

Only desktop users.

Date: 2016-02-19 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It's also the number one cloud operating system...

Date: 2016-04-06 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Only because ... of all the work in Debian. See:

These days, Debian provides more than Ubuntu does for OpenStack.

Date: 2016-02-20 01:44 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I wouldn't say that: http://w3techs.com/technologies/details/os-linux/all/all


Date: 2016-02-19 01:26 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Last time I checked distrowatch, most of the derivatives of other linux distros seemed to be directly based on Ubuntu and many use Ubuntu repositories. Ubuntu has such a large influence, it doesn't make sense that they keep things so ambiguous. Doing things right would create such good will.

Post tags

Date: 2016-02-19 04:14 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It seems like every single one of your posts is tagged "ADVOGATO, FEDORA" (I noticed because I was looking to see all the Ubuntu posts...)

Date: 2016-02-19 10:51 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)


Date: 2016-02-19 11:58 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"While Mozilla restrict the redistribution of modified binaries that include their trademarks, Canonical insist that you rebuild everything even if the package doesn't contain any trademarks."

Show me the part that states you MUST recompile ALL packages?

Re: Sad

Date: 2016-02-19 07:06 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
(IANAL) Even when primary package contents doesn't contain the Ubuntu trademark, package version in Ubuntu usually contains "ubuntu" string, which puts the Ubuntu trademark in package metadata, package file name, and sprinkles it throughout the file system (e.g. Debian changelog).

A typical Ubuntu package filename looks like this:

Is there a way to get a freely redistributable version of such package that wouldn't use Ubuntu trademark other than to alter the version and rebuild the package?

Re: Sad

Date: 2016-02-20 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"You cannot use the Trademarks in software titles. If you are producing software for use with or on Ubuntu you may reference Ubuntu, but must avoid: (i) any implication of endorsement, or (ii) any attempt to unfairly or confusingly capitalise on the goodwill of Canonical or Ubuntu."

I really don't see how your example would be an infringement to this.

It's no coincidence my question does not get answered, because the statement simply is not true. It's always this way with Matthew's posts regarding Canonical. If he'd leave out the FUD element, I would at least respect it.

Furthermore, bundling the ZFS module with the linux kernel (that started all this) was debated by the openzfs folks a long time ago, and is part of their FAQ. Several companies have build a commercial offering around it. Now that Canonical includes it, it becomes an item.

It's just personal, as usual.

Re: Sad

Date: 2016-02-20 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You're quoting the wrong part of the policy. Here: "You can redistribute Ubuntu, but only where there has been no modification to it."; "Any redistribution of modified versions of Ubuntu must be approved, certified or provided by Canonical if you are going to associate it with the Trademarks. Otherwise you must remove and replace the Trademarks and will need to recompile the source code to create your own binaries."

Also see FSF's analysis of the current policy:

In particular: "the policy remains problematic in ways that prevent us from endorsing it as a model for others" ... "While this change handles the situation for works covered by the GPL, it does not help works covered by lax permissive licenses (such as the X11 license) that do allow such additional restrictions."

I'm sorry, but the only kind of FUD and personal attacks I see in this discussion is the one carried out by Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth against Matthew. It can hardly be more obvious than in Mark's response linked from the post above:

I can only admire Matthew's ability to continue to say nice things about Ubuntu and Canonical after his constructive proposal was answered with a vicious character assassination piece that Matthew has mildly called "flat refusal". I wonder if I were able to remain so polite if I had to face such open hostility.

Re: Sad

Date: 2016-02-21 09:58 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
No I am not. First, the example I'm replying to was not necessarily about modification, but even then the key element is "if you are going to associate it with the Trademarks"

It is the association with the trademarks I was mentioning. The policy is quite open in that aspect, as I quoted. So it is certainly not a given fact that you would have to remove all references to Ubuntu from all source code that exists. Presenting that as fact is simply untrue.

And as to the FUD element: next to what I object above: nowhere, but really nowhere, is stated you have to recompile ALL packages. It is just a worst case personal interpretation to make the post more sensational.

I don't like Canonical for all the things they do either, but you have to remain objective on how things are presented. Fact is that there was not a problem with ZFS until Canonical adopted it.

Re: Sad

Date: 2016-02-21 09:59 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That is not the same thing.

Canonical, Ubuntu ...

Date: 2016-02-19 12:18 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It's an odd one. In order to use RHEL for longer than a trial period, you have to have a support contract. If you sign up with Red Hat to download the .iso / get a copy of RHEL from a Red Hat course, you have a one month access to binaries and updates. Anything after that, you pay for a support contract.

Because Red Hat retain copyright on the binaries and trademark rights on the artwork, at that point, Red Hat can't stop you using the binaries you have - but they can deny you (and anyone else) access to support and updates. They can also restrict you from passing on the binaries you have because you are then in breach of the agreement - me handing you Red Hat binaries may void my right to use the 50+ machines I've a support agreement on, for example.

That's a good way to fund support teams - it's even better when you get to charge per machine for older point releases as they go out of support. It's legitimate but not in any way generous or paying back. Red Hat now own CentOS - but there's no paid-for support and no guarantee of binary compatibility going forward. Your risk to run a business on it.

Canonical, on the other hand, are just being difficult and not playing well with the rest of Free Software. I respect Mark - his use of his own money has made a huge difference - but the results are mixed. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ubunu get out of the business of providing the Ubuntu Linux distributions inside three years, focussing instead on smartphones or container infrastructure.

My personal sum up of Canonical - too few experienced developers, a large, unfocussed user base and a vast dependent user base from child distributions. Add to that the treatment of some in the Ubuntu community and I'm unsure why so many people continue drinking the Kool-Aid.

Re: Canonical, Ubuntu ...

Date: 2016-02-19 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flosslinuxblog.blogspot.co.uk
The above comment isn't anonymous it's from Andrew Cater - http://flosslinuxblog.blogspot.com
From: (Anonymous)

This is an important area for you, one that you're passionate and vocal about: something you've been posting about for a long time.

This statement jumped out at me:

> I criticise Canonical's policies in the hope that we, as a community,
> can convince Canonical to agree

If you goal is to 'convince Canonical, then your strategy needs a rethink, because you're not achieving your goal. In fact, opinions are just becoming more entrenched.

If you want to convince the 'other side' then you need to understand their fears/hopes and drivers, you have to acknowledge and understand their perspective. You need to build up trust and credibility. If you empathise and understand you can help them work through the problem, explain the deficiencies in their thinking and help them find solutions which generally involves compromise.

On the other hand, how do you feel if you're called stupid, morally suspect and 'othered' as not being part of "the community"? Does it make it more or less likely that you'll be convinced of an argument? Of course, we all believe our own opinions, but Free Software arguments are particularly dangerous because there's an element of ethics and morality mixed in. Making your own views morally 'pure' and treating others views as morally suspect may be emotionally satisfying but it denigrates the other side, stops them from hearing you and leaves no room for compromise. After all, most people are trying to do the right thing.

I hope you'll give it some thought. And, I wish you the very best of luck.
From: (Anonymous)
Well said and right on point. This is probably the best comment I've read in years on any website.
From: (Anonymous)
This is a nice suggestion but comes from someone who, I'd guess, has never had to deal with Mark.
From: (Anonymous)
Your comment would actually be better directed at Mark. Matt's tried, in good faith, several times, to suggest ways Canonical could do this better. Mark is an absolute master of the non-response: when you criticize something he or Canonical does, he'll go somewhere where it's awkward to respond to him (a videoed talk, or a post on some Canonical site with no comments), completely misrepresent what you said, and then dismiss it. He hasn't once actually engaged with the issues that people have raised on this or other topics; he just misleading reframes the issue, dismisses it in such a way as to imply the person raising an issue is personally jealous or just wants to attack Canonical, and then moves on to something else.

tl;dr: the person who has the worst track record of acting in good faith is Mark Shuttleworth.
From: (Anonymous)
I disagree. Matthew has posed issues and asked questions that can be answered by someone at Canonical with a single sentence. Likely someone from Canonical could provide simple yes / no statement, and this would be resolved.

He shouldn't have to "make nice" to get clarification on a formal company policy.

- @j1mc


Date: 2016-02-19 06:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeyh.name
This has got me thinking, perhaps it's time to start using *buntu in software, to proactively avoid this problem. https://joeyh.name/blog/entry/trademark_nonsense/ (https://joeyh.name/blog/entry/trademark_nonsense/)


Date: 2016-02-19 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi, Matthew Garrett.
You should focus on writing good software.
That is all I want to say.

Re: Ubuntu

Date: 2016-02-19 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I find Matthew's ability to openly and sincerely raise difficult questions that need to be asked at least as valuable as his ability to write good software.

Because of this, I find your passive-aggressive suggestion that he should stop doing that counter-productive and offensive. I think you should reconsider your own focus instead of telling other people what to do.

Re: Ubuntu

Date: 2016-02-20 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I find Matthew's ability to shy away from the same discussions that he starts and act as a moral paladin because he's obviously superior to us mortals equally valuable.

Re: Ubuntu

Date: 2016-02-19 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flosslinuxblog.blogspot.ca
Matthew _does_ write software - dasher's the one I remember him working with in particular. Do be aware that he's been doing this for more than 15 years - and was one of the initial contributors to Ubuntu for Warty Warthog in 2004. He does tend to know what he's talking about and it would be significantly difficult for random commenters to claim greater experience in Free Software
From: (Anonymous)
"gave me the background required to be able to help Ubuntu become the first free software operating system to work out of the box on modern laptops"

Wha...? How about all the Linux distros prior to Ubuntu. Debian itself, Red Hat Linux, Suse, Fedora, and others ... all worked "out of the box" on legacy and modern laptops. Heh.

Ubuntu came along later in the game and focused on the desktop as the priority, to include shrugging off free software ideologies, which for example, Fedora was not willing to bend on.

Anyway... otherwise, an interesting discussion.


Date: 2016-02-19 07:51 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Canonical could have achieved all of Ubuntu's success without violating open source guidelines. This is one of the reasons I use Debian.

Date: 2016-02-22 08:32 am (UTC)
sunflowerinrain: Singing at the National Railway Museum (Default)
From: [personal profile] sunflowerinrain
Lovely clear exposition.

Date: 2016-02-22 10:12 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
There is no work that would change the position of Ubuntu with regard to
derivation. Our rules boil down to:

 * join the Ubuntu community and work together with us in the archive
(as most long-term projects do), or

 * ask Canonical for permission, which has been granted to hundreds of
projects over the years

You need to ask Canonical's permission to make a derivative of Ubuntu. This is a very clear statement from Mark Shuttleworth that Ubuntu is not Free software.

waiting for your antergos rant

Date: 2016-02-25 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
see title


Matthew Garrett

About Matthew

Power management, mobile and firmware developer on Linux. Security developer at Google. Ex-biologist. @mjg59 on Twitter. Content here should not be interpreted as the opinion of my employer.

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