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April 14th, 2016

UbuntuBSD Should Heed Kubuntu’s Cautionary Tale

Larry the BSD Guy

Should UbuntuBSD be officially tied to the Canonical family of operating systems?

Our good friends at Softpedia reported last week that the fledgling UbuntuBSD variant could be seeking the imprimatur from Canonical and become an official Ubuntu “flavor.”

Jon Boden, the lead developer of UbuntuBSD, submitted a post on the Ubuntu developers’ discussion list to let them know that he would “like to contribute all my work to Ubuntu Community and, if you think it is worthy, make ubuntuBSD an official Ubuntu project like Xubuntu or Edubuntu.”

On the surface, this can be clearly understood as a “Captain Obvious” move; both prudent and sensible. Clearly getting experienced Ubuntu developers interested in the project helps rapidly grow the project.

But at what cost?

There have been instances in fairy tales where prized possessions have been sold for a bag of magic beans. Or, for those of you who are religious, you can reach back to Mark 8:36 — “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

UbuntuBSD’s Jonathan may want to talk to another Jonathan — Jonathan Riddell, founder and former de facto leader of Kubuntu — especially regarding where the control of the fruits of one’s labor really lie, and the potential for conflict from Canonical may inherently arise (putting aside, of course, any semblance of transparency in the upper echelons of the Ubuntu “community,” but that phenomenon is common knowledge).

Heck, I’ll see your Jonathan and raise you a Matthew: Matthew Garrett points out a very interesting perspective about Canonical’s IP policy in a detailed post.

So there you go, Mr. Boden: Here are the pros and cons to joining the Ubuntu family. The idea that there could be an Ubuntu variant based on BSD is a noble one, and a hat tip is in order for having the concept and starting your herculean efforts. Just be aware of what you’re getting into.

See you next week.

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Larry Cafiero

Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

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