Great insight from Greg KH on kernel contributors

From this kernel talk presented by Greg KH at Google in June, he says at about 23:22 that “Canonical made 6 changes to the kernel in the last 5 years. Canonical does not give back to the community.” Pretty amazing observation, especially with this:

“Well we have a better security track record than Red Hat, we do that by focusing very hard on security, making sure the updates are available as fast as possible on Ubuntu, independent studies have generally ranked Ubuntu number one. We had a horrible security issue recently [the severe OpenSSL-bug recently discovered in Debian-based distributions, apo] but the response to that was exceptional.

So what I’m trying to say here, that the notion that Canonical wouldn’t contribute anything in such a situation and it would be a one way flow is something I disagree with. Look for example at the fact that Ubuntu has usually better hardware support, if we all were on the same kernel the others could take the drivers we put in there and have hardware support that is just as good as Ubuntu.”

FUD from Mark?


  1. More of the same
    This is just more of the same. Shuttleworth first wants to sync distro releases so Ubuntu can basically leach even more of Red Hat’s, Novell’s etc. hard work *they pay for*. Next I read somewhere that Shuttleworth would like to see Qt be used for Gnome. What’s up with that?! And now this. I don’t know what’s going on with this guy but maybe the African sun or space radiation got to his his upper chamber. So far Ubuntu seems to be more of a marketing operation than a first class citizen that actually contributes back substantially to the community. And he just causes unnecessary ripples. Time to ignore this bunch and move along.

    • Re: More of the same
      Having met and spent some time with Mark, I think he does mean well in what he wants to do, but I think that he is probably struggling with coming up with a business model. Red Hat has a proven working model, albeit focussed on the enterprise (servers and desktops), but the big picture here is one of being able to tackle the consumer desktop. Red Hat struggled for about 8 years before working out the kinks and building the services and support model. Ubuntu/Canonical has to, in all honesty, rapidly mimic that model.
      Ubuntu has, with the carpet bombing of CDs :-), gained a level of awareness of Linux and what it can do and that is probably a good thing. Fedora does the same with Free Media, but I will concede that Ubuntu has been that bit better.
      In the FOSS world, it does not matter who made improvements, innovations, etc. The fact that we can all share on each others ideas and grow the whole engineering and technical arena is what is most important. Yes, Red Hat/Fedora has done great stuff with Network Manager and all the other distributions now benefit from it. Red Hat/Fedora is only happy to look at the Ubuntu innovation “Upstart” to make the boot process much quicker. I think it is important to keep in mind that no matter where the innovation comes from, one does not claim it, but acknowledge that it is from all over.
      Likewise with security and kernel contributions. If you look at Greg KH’s talk at Google, he mentions that there are about 2,399 contributors to the kernel and that Ubuntu/Canonical has not made much in 5 years. That is sad. I hope Mark will encourage his team to contribute and do the Right Thing.

      • Re: More of the same
        If you don’t have a business model, you are relying on looking good. Looking good (not optically, but code-wise or feature-wise) requires work. Workforce is short, because of the lacking bussiness model. And leeching… sadly comes free.

      • This is a smoke free zone, nuclear free zone, hate free zone, etc, etc. Of course the dead give a away will be the streets teaming with adults, dressed like they are in junior high, riding alternative forms of transportation, all during adult working hours.

  2. Good hardware support in Ubuntu doesn’t mean good contribution upstream
    Just because they ship all sorts of binary drivers and the like and probably pull in other git trees like wireless doesn’t mean by default they then contribute those changes back up stream. Alot of the things that give Ubuntu good hardware support are due to developments from the other vendors. For example NetworkManager and a lot of the work on making wireless just work was done by redhat. The X driver development was done by vendors like ATI and Intel in collaboration with Novell/Suse and Redhat. Without all that work from the other vendors where would Ubuntu be? Anyone can pull in other people’s patches and call it good hardware support.

    • Re: Good hardware support in Ubuntu doesn’t mean good contribution upstream
      Not to knock Ubuntu and Canonical, but it is about “getting it”. I think they are trying and perhaps they need a quick lesson on transparency and sense of community.

  3. You need to review your facts…
    Apparently, when Greg KH spoke , he collected only addresses whereas the canonical folks have been using mail address also,
    See this counter by Ben Collins :
    I am not sure why you are making unjustified statements against Mark and Canonical. Ubuntu has brought new excitement and hordes of new users to Linux, whereas I don’t think RHEL can fit that description (RHEL now is just plain boring enterprise stuff).
    The huge mindshare and userbase and consequently attention by book publishers, news items, even software co., etc is no mean achievement.
    Just because you work for RH does not mean you have to denigrate Mark. Please have some courtesy. I have met Mark too and am deeply involved in the Debian / Ubuntu. He is a first class gentleman & generous.
    ubuntu is a fine distro and RHEL/Fedora are no match for ubuntu. RHEL’s advantage is the brand name recognition.
    I can say this confidently since, I support RHEL @ enterprises for a living so I know both sides.
    Please, for heaven’s sake, stop brewing new trouble within the community and see whether you can have some kind/good/encouraging words for others. You/RH benefit when the community grows and a certain % buy RHEL.
    Let me ask you this: Will you write the same blog if you happen to switch jobs and work for Canonical next month? I am sure, not.

    • Re: You need to review your facts…
      I generally ignore anonymous comments. So, if you would like to post with your ID, I will respond, poster from Atlanta.
      Suffice to say, I have high regard and respect for Mark and I think he means well. It bothers me when quotes are attributed to him that does not sound right.

      • If he thinks some new Google offering is junk I don’t think he will say it is great. I just don’t, I could be wrong but I am confident of that.

    • Re: You need to review your facts…
      Of course ubuntu is a fine distro. After all it’s nothing more than Debian with a bit of polish. Although the people at canonical did a great job at polishing the package, their starting point (and where they leech off whenever they get the chance?) was from the start one of the best (if not the best) distribution put together.

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