You may have noticed the new header for my blog – I thought it best to clear up any misconceptions and explain why I’ve disassociated myself from any particular, UNIX-based, Operating System. Their are a handful of reasons, but the most prominent is Ubuntu’s evermore noticeable commercial agenda. A couple of weeks ago, Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) added a new package to the repo’s, which tracks Ubuntu installs ‘in the wild’. While this may sound innocent enough, implementing spyware is always to help pursue profitable interests. Keeping track of installs notifies Canonical of its success, which it can boast to companies to secure contracts. Although a vague assumption at best, this sort of behaviour warrants a serious look at Ubuntu and Canonical as a commercial entity. While I understand that as a limited company with employees, Canonical needs to make money to survive, I’m far less inclined to associate myself with a product, especially an open source project, which is driven by a company, seeking to make money out of other people’s work.
I was also blissfully unaware of Ubuntu’s community structure until the dreaded UI change was introduced in Lucid Lynx. “This is not a democracy. Good feedback, good data, are welcome. But we are not voting on design decisions.” are the words of Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical. The Ubuntu community is not a democracy, we don’t get to decide or vote on the direction of open source projects we’re supposed to use and enjoy. While I disagree with a dictatorship in an open source project as big as Ubuntu, I can’t blame them. Ubuntu is leap years ahead of other Linux distributions which have been around a million years longer – this is because Ubuntu is financially backed, and driven by only a handful of commercially interested folk, not a community fighting over UI changes.
What I’m trying to say is, the direction which Ubuntu is headed, and the motive(s) of the driving force behind the project, is out of step with my definition of a community and, an open source project. I want to be part of a community whose interests lie not in making money, but in perfecting a Linux distribution for its users.
After much consideration of the resource limits of my NB200, and the non-profit distro’s which are available, I’ve decided to roll with ArchLinux. I like this distro a lot because it’s bare-bones and flexible. It allows you to get as close or as far away from the machine as you’d like. Once you’ve installed Arch you’re greeted with a terminal – Arch doesn’t come with a UI, you have to pick one yourself. Being an Ubuntu user, I was used to having Metacity and GNOME pre-configured and ready to go, just like everything else. With Arch, I’ve learnt more about Linux in the install and setting up process, than I have in my entire 2 years with Ubuntu. This is good news for Ubuntu, because it shows that the Operating System succeeds in protecting the user from the bottomless pits of Linux. It’s just a shame it took me 2 years to figure this out.
ArchLinux will probably be the way forward for me. I haven’t completely pulled myself from Ubuntu yet; it is still installed on my desktop machine, and probably will be for the foreseeable future, but I will change eventually. Ubuntu removes a lot of the hassle which comes with Linux – and I like that. Sound problems, Wine issues, and an encrypted hard drive are all fairly straightforward with Ubuntu, not Arch.
In closing, I’d like to thank the Ubuntu team for a great OS, and I wish them all the success they deserve. I’m going to move onto to a harder distro, a distro which will open my eyes more to the wonders of Linux, a distro I can call my own, and a distro not driven by a financially motivated force.