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May 22nd, 2015

SCALE 14X Moves, Canonical Considers IPO & More…

FOSS Week in Review

While the week started out with some of us waxing nostalgic about penguins on racing cars, it seems that the march of progress and onward-and-upward improvement continues, if news from the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) is of any indication.

SCALE moving: According to a highly placed source in the SCALE hierarchy — of course, that would be me — SCALE has outgrown a series of hotels over the last several years, and the 2016 edition of the expo will be held at the Pasadena Convention Center from Jan. 21-24, 2016.

Mark Shuttleworth 2006

Mark Shuttleworth in 2006.
Photo by Martin Schmitt

For those of you keeping score at home, the Pasadena Convention Center provides a far more spacious venue for exhibitors (of which there is expected to be more than in years past) and improved facilities for presentations. There are a few large hotels within walking distance of the convention center, so there should be something for everyone in the new venue.

Even an ice skating rink, though it’s unclear as of yet whether SCALE will have access to it.

For those of you worried about your Australian travel plans in January, SCALE 14X ends a full week before linux.conf.au starts, which is Feb. 1, 2016, if you’re marking your calendar.

Details are forthcoming and, of course, as they develop we’ll be reporting them here at FOSS Force.

Canonical IPO?: It’s been a busy week in the Isle of Man, and not only for the taxpayers on this tax-haven island who may be scrambling a bit at the moment.

Maybe Mark Shuttleworth is tired of spending his own money. Maybe all the Canonical eggs are going into the Internet-of-Thing/Cloud-of-Things basket for a big score. But whatever it is, Shuttleworth says that Canonical now has “a story that the market will understand,” in a ZDNet article by Steven J. Vaughan Nichols on Thursday outlining the possibility of an initial public offering (IPO) by Canonical.

It’s hard to ascertain “the story” that the market is supposed to understand now that it didn’t understand before, if a past littered with the broken remnants of unfulfilled promise (Ubuntu TV anyone? How about — drumroll, please — Ubuntu Edge?) is any indication. But never mind that — that probably won’t be part of the commentary going forward. Also, to be fair, clearly Shuttleworth is entitled to try to make back the money he invested in Ubuntu over the past several years.

But an IPO brings up one interesting scenario: Activist sharholders making executives answer tough questions that in the past were glossed over in a private company under the mantra of “community.”

I’ll make the popcorn.

Elsewhere in the Fossosphere…

New Distros for 2015: I don’t know how new these distros are, but Jack Wallen at Linux.com has provided a list of the four best “new” Linux distributions to watch. Let’s give a very, very broad definition of the term “new,” and the chosen quartet consist of two that are new to me — Sparky Linux Game Over Edition and Ozon OS — and one, Evolve OS, which I wrote about several weeks back on FOSS Force when it became SolusOS.

The fourth in Wallen’s article is Korora, the official distro-of-choice used on a daily basis by yours truly. Korora’s not exactly “new,” as I suspect is the same as the others listed above, but Korora — a Fedora remix that features MATE, GNOME, KDE, Xfce, and Cinnamon desktops — has been around for years and, in case you’re ever a contestant on “Jeopardy” and it comes up, it was once based on Gentoo.

Just make sure you give Alex Trebek your response in the form of a question.

See you Wednesday.

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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

6 comments to SCALE 14X Moves, Canonical Considers IPO & More…

  • Andrew

    This would be an interesting play for Canonical, but I would expect Ubuntu IPO to go the way of Ubuntu TV, Ubuntu Edge, Ubuntu Phone, and Ubuntu *. I imagine Mark is nearing the end of the road of funding Ubuntu, and that makes sense. You can only operate a company in the red for so long before you realize it is never going to be.

  • Larry Cafiero

    You’re right, Andrew. This could be just another unfulfilled promise by Canonical that will never see the light of day, like the things that you mention in your comment and I mention in my article. I also agree that Mark Shuttleworth is probably tired of throwing money into the Canonical pit – frankly, I think he’s been tired of doing it for the last several years now but can’t just seem to pull the plug in order to save face.

    So now there’s a possible IPO. Maybe it will come to pass, and maybe it won’t. There are several scenarios around Shuttleworth jettisoning from Canonical, or at least trying to cut his losses (or recoup something for all he has invested).

    The rumor-du-jour a few years ago was Dell courting Canonical with sweet talk and flowers, but that union never seemed to materialize. But want to hear my worst-case scenario? Mark sells Canonical, and its Internet-of-Things-in-the-Cloud-Blah-Blah-Blah to a wily Satya Nadella at Microsoft, a move for the, ahem, “we-love-Linux” Redmond to gobble up Canonical’s Internet-of-Things, etc., and establish what will probably be an all-but-indefensible FOSS beachhead in the process.

    Unlike Steve Ballmer, Nadella has shown he’s playing with a full deck, he’s incredibly and diplomatically smooth, and he’s not a buffoon. He also doesn’t look like a Stasi agent, but that’s another thing altogether.

    Go ahead and laugh if you want, but I’d bet you anything that over the last couple of years this idea has been echoing off board rooms walls in both Redmond and the Isle of Man.

  • Andrew

    You won’t see me laughing Larry, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Nadella is sharp, and he seems to be more willing to adapt to what consumers desire than Balmer ever did..and more quickly too.

  • JD

    Larry that would be truly be a shame. If things shut down or gold sold to MS who buys and kill companies. You need to understand this happening will severely disrupt and hurt a lot of things. regardless of your feeling about Ubuntu. This would really screw things up.

    I guess I get the impression the you don’t seem to care if things shut down. And that is not a good thing at all. Be cornered and care my brother.

  • Larry Cafiero

    JD said:

    “Larry that would be truly be a shame. If things shut down or gold sold to MS who buys and kill companies. You need to understand this happening will severely disrupt and hurt a lot of things. regardless of your feeling about Ubuntu. This would really screw things up.”

    We are in agreement there, and my “feeling about Ubuntu” really doesn’t enter into it. It would be a disaster.

    “I guess I get the impression the you don’t seem to care if things shut down. And that is not a good thing at all. Be cornered and care my brother.”

    And you would be completely incorrect, JD. Why do you think I’m bringing this up? If you didn’t take it as a warning, and a dire warning at that, you’re not really paying attention.

    Also, if this happens, it would not “shut down” anything, other than maybe Ubuntu. Linux, and the hundreds of distros, will continue to go on. It would be a tragedy, though, since Ubuntu — thanks to Mark’s money — has bought its way into the hearts and minds of many.

    One more thing: We’re not related.

  • […] such as Larry Cafiero’s notice a week or so ago about Shuttleworth’s musings on a potential IPO, the Ubuntu naysayers come up from their basements to express the opinion that Shuttleworth is […]