Is Canonical as arrogant as Apple?

In today's open source roundup: Canonical and Ubuntu's rocky relationships with the open source community. Plus: Microsoft releases the source code for MS-DOS, and GNOME 3.12 released

Canonical has had a rocky relationship at times with the rest of the open source community. The company has sometimes gone in its own direction and rather blithely disregarded criticism from others in free software. Datamation takes a look at the root of Canonical's problem and thinks that it's more about relationships than it is about specific software issues.

Admittedly, the larger community can be slow to change and quick to defend the way things are. You could argue with some success that an attempt to innovate and to do things differently is long overdue. But while Canonical has helped to transform the Linux desktop, at times its rashness has made its failures (and partial successes) as significant as its successes.

The bottom line is that Ubuntu and Canonical's relationship with the rest of free software is severely dysfunctional -- and that no one on either side appears to have the will to fix it.

More at Datamation
Ubuntu Arrogant

For some reason Canonical has always reminded me of Apple. There's a certain level of arrogance in both companies, with both behaving to one degree or another as though every decision they make is the right one and those who don't agree are somehow beneath concern. This has the potential to really turn off some users who then make it a point to avoid products and services from such companies.

We saw some of this when Unity was first released, and many Ubuntu users balked at using it. Some fled to Linux Mint, while others embraced Debian or other distributions. And there was an enormous amount of angry and negative feedback in various online forums and sites across the Internet. Such is the risk a company runs when it boldly disregards user feedback in favor of following its own internal compass.

Apple's iOS 7 update caused a similar reaction among some of its customers. iOS 7 freaked out a lot of people who could not believe that the company would make such drastic changes in one release. Apple and Canonical are similar in the sense that neither company did a very good job in preparing users for big changes in user interfaces.

I suppose that strong conviction can be a good thing in some ways since it lets a company move forward aggressively toward fulfilling a larger vision, but it can also turn around and bite the company in the rear end if the vision they are working toward is flawed. There's just no way to guarantee a positive end result with companies like Apple or Canonical.

All of this can sometimes have the effect of leaving users feeling that a company they formerly trusted has become high-handed and arrogant. In the case of Canonical it seems that that feeling may have also taken root among some other free software developers and companies. And that's probably not a good thing for Canonical's long term reputation or business relationships.

Canonical should remember, however, that they are not Apple. Apple exists in its own universe, at the very top of the premium market. It can mostly do as it pleases, and it can get away with doing things other companies could never do. Canonical's situation is very different, and it's a good idea for them to remember that and act accordingly.

At this point I think Ubuntu is a take it or leave it affair. You either like and support what Canonical has done with Ubuntu or you don't. Fortunately there are plenty of fantastic alternatives to Ubuntu, and nobody is forced to embrace Canonical's vision of what Linux should be on desktop computers or mobile devices.

I don't know if Canonical will ever be able to fix its relationships with the rest of the open source community at this point. I suppose time will tell though and we'll just have to wait and see. Much may depend on the future leadership of Canonical, as times goes by there may be a generational change that could work toward improving the company's relationships with the rest of the open source community.

In the short term it looks as though things will more or less stay the same.

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