[CLUG-chat] [CLUG-announce] Upcoming CLUG Talk: Future conflicts between the Ubuntu and GNOME communities

jneethling at webmail.co.za jneethling at webmail.co.za
Tue Mar 1 16:37:55 SAST 2011

On Tue, 1 Mar 2011 15:57:00 +0200 Jonathan Hitchcock <vhata at clug.org.za> wrote

> > > I'd love to have heard Mark Shuttleworth's take on this (as I'm sure
> > would
> > > others). Does anyone feel comfortable enough to provide a general
> > synopsis?
> >
> > Yes, can I second this?
> >
> I guess nobody else is going to step up and answer this.  I'll try and
> remember what Mark said, and hopefully others who were there will fill in
> and/or correct me.

Thanks for taking the lead on this. I was going to kick off, especially after I
read Phil's blog post about the talk through planet.gnome.org.
http://philbull.livejournal.com/58459.html .
(clug in planet.gnome.org - YAY!)

> As far as I could make out, there was a lot of discussion about how
> GNOME-shell should look and behave, and how it should interact with the rest
> of the desktop (notifications and indicators and the like), and Canonical
> was heavily involved in the discussions, and made a couple of their
> requirements (based on their human-interaction guidelines etc) known.

Mark indicated that, based on requests from other industry players (wasn't Dell
and/HP mentioned?), Cannonical did a lot of research in usability. Some of it
was inspired by the success of the netbook remix
(http://www.ubuntu.com/netbook) packaging of Ubuntu.

About the time that they were planning to build this newer interface,
discussions about Gnome 3 were hotting up in the gnome community and Cannonical
shared the research and the conclusions about the direction that they felt the
interface should take.

> However, these requirements were apparently all but ignored by certain core
> members of GNOME, who preferred to move the project in the direction that
> they considered to be more "GNOMEy".  When Canonical realized that
> GNOME-shell would need almost as much work to be patched for their HIG as a
> rewrite would require, they decided to go with Unity, which they could craft
> in exactly they way they wanted.
> In answer to "but GNOME-shell and Unity are almost identical as far as we
> can see, apart from a few very minor aspects", Mark said that the parallel
> development of the two projects meant that they heavily influenced each
> other, and that GNOME-shell wouldn't look like it currently did if it
> weren't for Unity.

Phil was also pretty annoyed about the copyright for contributions to Unity
having to go to Cannonical. Mark made a very compelling argument that
contributing to a project and not also giving the copyright to that project was
more of a problem for that project than a gift. It means that the project ended
up with reduced agility, and takes away freedoms. He was very clear that any
contributions made to the public domain could not retroactively be removed from
the public domain. Therefore, the copyright issue is a little bit of a red
herring. You are either contributing for the good of the community - which is
what most people do, in which case the whole community should benefit, even if
those community members are (for profit) companies.

I never considered the copyright issues properly and the implications for the
recipient project are a little nasty, especially when the original contributer
passes away... (btw, ianal and I've not though too deeply about these issues,
but Mark's arguments make perfect sense).

Hence, Cannonical are trying to make it easy for them to be able to move the
project in the direction that they want to take it. 

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