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Thoughts on upstreams

Sep 19, 2010, 03:04 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Matthew Garrett)

"Last month I gave a presentation on the interaction between Android and kernel upstream at Linuxcon. The video for that is now available here (requires registration). Contrary to stories you may have heard, I do not dropkick anyone through a window.

"There's some parallels between the Android/upstream scenario and Canonical's approach to upstream. Mark wrote a lengthy defence of Canonical's focus on components that they feel need development, while not putting development effort into things they feel are good enough already. That's pretty consistent with the discussions I had with him at the Ubuntu development meeting in Oxford over six years ago. Back then the focus was on taking all the excellent software that already existed and concentrating on providing it as a single polished and integrated product. It was successful - what's easy to forget now is that the first release of Ubuntu was massively more usable out of the box than any other Linux distribution available at the time, and it's absolutely undeniable that its release spurred increased efforts on the part of competitors. But I don't think the same focus is being applied any more.

"The most obvious (and most controversial) example is the Ayatana project. Ayatana's a pretty explicit statement that Canonical don't view the existing Gnome UI as being suitable for their vision of the Linux desktop. That's absolutely fine. However, unlike many of the papercut projects, Ayatana is a set of complete reimplementations of functionality that behave differently to their upstream equivalents. There's no meaningful sense in which that's not a fork of Gnome. And, let me emphasise, I don't think that's a bad thing."

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