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submitted by stroke_bot
Big donors versus small?
Summarizing today's news story, wealthy and somewhat benevolent Mark Shuttlesworth doesn't appreciate some of the criticism his projects have received, notwithstanding his mixed generosity. I say mixed because part of the plan was to make money, too (though I think he's donated way more money than he's earned on this Ubuntu thing). His real unhappiness is probably that he feels his generosity is insufficiently appreciated.
I actually agree with Mr Shuttlesworth that much of the criticism was unjustified, but I have two responses: (1) Some of the criticism was merited and (2) What else could they contribute?
Response (1) is about the biggest problem with the big donor model of charity (even if Ubuntu has some non-charitable aspects). Sometimes the big donor makes a mistake. In general the big donors don't just throw in the big money and go away. You can say it's a matter of trust or accountability or whatever, but they stay involved. In the specific case of Ubuntu, the development priorities have sometimes gone a bit astray. Obviously the shell kerfuffles are examples, but the low priority on Japanese language support has actually been the main recommendation barrier in my case. I'd like to encourage people to adopt Ubuntu, but (after using the OS for many years (probably since Dapper Drake in 2006)) I still can't.
Response (2) is really about frustration. At least I don't see what other alternative most of the potential users of Ubuntu have. Some of the top programmers presumably have Mr Shuttlesworth's ear and can influence things, but most of us are on the outside. Way on the outside. I actually think that many of the problems with Ubuntu are ultimately due to programmer-driven decisions. Good programmers want to do fancy things. They want to push the envelope and develop fancy features for fancy hardware. Or maybe it's just my problem that I have other things to do with my time or that I'm too cheap to buy new computers fast enough?
I need to disclaim that I feel some frustration and disappointment with Ubuntu, too. I had hopes that it would become a dominant desktop OS, but it never did. It's not like there weren't major opportunities, for example that Vista fiasco, but Ubuntu never filled any of the vacuums. However, I mostly didn't care that much, so I never even investigated the details. I just observed the results.
(By the way, I do think there is at least one possible solution. Are you brave enough to ask me about the Charity Share Brokerage for small donors? Hint: Kickstarter and Indiegogo aren't there yet, but maybe that idea could be fixed... As it would apply on Reddit, rather than simply tell me the servers are too overloaded to search (for where this comment should be posted), why not ask me if I'd like to help fund another server? I'd also be interested in supporting a project to make the subedit sidebar rules more accessible...)
Anyway, things sometimes turn out for the better, at least when the term is long enough. Turns out the desktop OS doesn't matter that much anymore. Maybe Linux won out after all, but via the backdoor leading to Android smartphones? Still a bit of the big donor problem, but at least the google seems more competent than evil. For now. I recommend Dogfight on the smartphone war, but maybe you have a good book to recommend? (Yeah, I'm sure there are some interesting blogs and webpages, too, but mostly I find them as half-baked as this selfsame noddie.)
submitted by shanen