SECOND UPDATE: Since this story was first published last
night, the open letter appearing on Ximian's web site has changed,
and Ximian has announced that it will "revise its advertisements on
Google to eliminate the possibility of confusion, and will not
create new advertising campaigns based on KDE-related keyword
searches." A look at Google this morning confirmed that the
keywords reported on below (kde, konqueror, kparts, dcop) no longer
return a Ximian ad.
UPDATE: Since we spoke to him earlier this evening, Nat
Friedman has announced that Ximian has changed course slightly with
regards to its ad campaign. In a follow-up interview conducted
after this story was first run, citing his conviction that Ximian
had done no wrong in running the ads, Friedman announced that the
ad campaign will continue uninterrupted. Ximian has posted a response of its own on its
Noting his own surprise at the vociferousness of a web page posted by KDE
developers addressing his company's purchase of KDE-related "ad
words" on the popular Google
search engine, Ximian President and CEO Nat Friedman said the
company will not suspend the ads, despite earlier plans to do
The conflict over the ads, which were first reported on Linux Weekly News, centers around Google's
"ad words" program, which allows advertisers to purchase ads that
appear in relationship to keywords entered by users of the search
engine. In this case, searching on such terms as "kde",
"konqueror", "dcop" (the KDE "Desktop COmmunications Protocol"),
and kparts (the KDE component model) causes Google to display an ad
for Ximian, which produces an enhanced version of the GNOME desktop
Today KDE developers Kurt Granroth and Andreas Pour published a
web page entitled ""Business Ethics" in the Open Source Community?"
that took Ximian to task for the ads, saying the company had
rejected the ethics of the Open Source community and engaged in
Friedman defended Ximian's actions:
"We knew what we were doing," he said, noting that Ximian's goal
is to ensure "as many users for Ximian GNOME as possible," within
the context of "friendly competition."
Ximian's intent in taking out the ads, according to Friedman,
wasn't hostile or deceptive, and he said he believes people
searching for information on the KDE desktop environment "might
also be interested in Ximian."
Friedman also addressed concerns that the ads, which make no
direct mention of GNOME as they appear on Google!, were an attempt
to deceive or mislead the site's users. Friedman said that if the
ad campaign continues after the company confers with KDE
developers, they'll likely include the word "GNOME" in the ads to
allay these concerns.
Though some mail correspondence between the Ximian webmaster and
KDE community members had taken place previous to today, Friedman
also took issue with the abruptness of the web page's publication,
saying it came without any attempt on the part of the authors to
contact Ximian representatives to make their concerns known.
"We were a little surprised," he said, saying later in an
interview conducted this afternoon that he "wished they'd talked to
us about this."
Noting the past history of the the KDE and GNOME organizations,
Friedman said the ads are "not the first volley over the wall",
citing an incident in 1999 where Friedman and Ximian co-founder
Miguel de Icaza purchased the "gnome-support.com" domain
preparatory to launching a company centered around professional
support and services for the GNOME desktop (what eventually became
Ximian). According to Friedman, within weeks of purchasing the
domain, KDE developer Martin Konold purchased "gnome-support.de"
and redirected traffic to the KDE web site. Though Konold still
owns the domain, it no longer redirects to KDE's pages.
Friedman plans to publish his own response to the issue later
this evening, and a link to that page will be included here.