There are dark mutterings among Open Saucers against one of their more successful brethren and it highlights one of the main problems within the Open Sauce movement.
Over the years, Ubuntu has slid from being the champion of Linux to the level where its name is mentioned in dark whispers.
For those of use who have used the operating system for years, we have seen its users divided between those who want to actually use the software and those who like to tinker with it. There are those who believe that everything under the bonnet of Ubuntu should be a pure development of an Open Sauce religion banner, and those who feel that they would use proprietary software if they have to.
However Ubuntu’s soul has accessibility written down its spine like Brighton rock. While its founder Mark Shuttleworth might bang on about Open Sauce, it appears that he sees this as a means to an end.
This sets him at odds with those who see Open Sauce as a religion or a way of life. Accessibility is such an approach’s polarity. Ultimately it does not matter if your video codec was written by Steve Ballmer’s minion in the heart of Redmond, it does not matter if it is free if it works and it is accessible.
The Open Sauce movement is populated by a band of almost autistic software geniuses who do not really care if the product is successful, provided it is elegant and proprietary-free.
They are the sorts who insist that GIMP is an alternative to Photoshop because it is Open Sauce.
Being accessible is not something that is good for such types. They have never been accessible and would always have been the last to be picked for teams in school PE.
At their heart they don’t want Linux to be accessible otherwise they will cease to be different.
In their view Linux is supposed to be on the server where it can only be seen by those who appreciate its elegance or on their own finely tuned desktops. The thought of an ordinary person touching such perfection fills them with dread.
Canonical, which makes Ubuntu, has also made a few mistakes that antagonise the Open Sauce community.
Bruce Byfield said that political manipulation of the various software projects has miffed a lot of Open Saucers. They feel that Ubuntu is choosing projects on the basis the ability to dominate the projects that dominate its software stack.
Shuttleworth got miffed at the glacial pace that Gnome was making interface improvements and he moved to beef up interface software called Unity and this meant that many Canonical developers were suddenly not supporting Gnome.
There are many in the community who did not like the way that he attempted to lead them too. “Self appointed dictator” was one of the mutterings.
CEO Jane Silber has a more business orientated approach and likes ideas like Ubuntu One, the cloud storage service, which is aimed more at corporate customers.
With its accessibility and business approach, one would think that Canonical should be making money. The problem is that it isn’t. While the likes of Red Hat have managed to squeeze a dollar out of Linux, Canonical has been unprofitable for seven years.
One of the reasons for this is that for Open Sauce business plans to work they have to be backed by a community who is writing the code and working from them. Ubuntu’s problem is that these are the very guys who don’t like this accessibility argument.
At the end of the day Canonical were the only ones who have come up with a commercially viable Linux desktop which could have taken Windows to the cleaners. The fact that it is not successful and the process of its creation managed to anger the Open Sauce community so much that the outfit has become a pariah in the story is extremely telling.
Both sides have a point in this argument. But both sides also come with heaps of baggage which makes a resolution impossible. It is the sort of baggage that will keep Linux on the server and give the desktop to Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer.