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Ubuntu, Yahoo, Microsoft, and bears oh my

Yes, as many of you have read recently, Canonical has created a deal with Yahoo! to provide the default search for Firefox in the Lucid release. I decided that I would sit back and parse not only the information that Canonical has put out, but also the information I am reading on the web, Twitter, Identi.ca, and mailing lists. To be honest, I was actually surprised that a large scale attack or a FUD campaign never started over this, and I feel there just might be a turning point in all of this. Before I go on, let me throw a bit of a disclaimer in here as to hopefully not provide a lash back against either Canonical or Ubuntu.

Disclaimer

  1. I am not an employee of Canonical, I receive zero money from them for anything I do.
  2. I am not a speaker on behalf of the Ubuntu project nor the Ubuntu community.
  3. I speak for myself and nobody else.

OK, I think I covered the grounds. I know this post has the potential to either be popular or very unpopular. I am not here for a popularity contest, so if it sinks or swims, I do not care. I just want to provide my opinion of the deal and the atmosphere I have experienced since I first got involved in Linux some 17 years ago.

I personally think this deal between Canonical and Yahoo! is a good one, and to be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these deals. I wouldn’t mind seeing a deal with Google, Ask, Bing, or whatever else there is out there. The reason I like this deal is that it brings the potential of hiring more developers for the Ubuntu project. Seeing as I am a Kubuntu user and developer, I would love to see some of the money make its way into Kubuntu. Wait a second, did you just say Bing? Isn’t that the search engine, or rather the decision engine, ran by that big evil empire known as Microsoft? Oh boy, how many of you just went, “WTF IS WRONG WITH THIS IDIOT?” I am sure some of you did, and that was to be expected. I mean, Canonical did strike a deal with Yahoo!, and for some reason, many of you feel that Yahoo! is now Microsoft, or at least powered by Microsoft. If you read more than a couple of blog posts here and there, and dive into the news by not only Yahoo! and Microsoft, but read the stuff by the WSJ, NYT, and more. You will see for one, this deal has yet to be approved by the powers to be, and who knows if it will. Saying that Yahoo! is powered by Microsoft is not only incorrect, but it can be construed as either trolling or FUD at best.

You see, I have been around this Linux community for the better part of 17 years. There were good years and plenty of bad years. There were two things that always stood out during these years.

  1. Free is on one side of the fence and open source on the other side, in other words a split camp with common goals.
  2. Microsoft is a big and evil empire

So, Microsoft is big and evil, and don’t think I could disagree with that statement, and they haven’t proved themselves worthy of us removing this title, or whatever we want to call it. How many of you actually feel that striking this deal with Yahoo! is striking a deal with Microsoft? Don’t be shy, I have seen you on Twitter and Identi.ca stating the same, and on the Ubuntu Developers Mailing list as well, oh and on IRC. How many of you use Dell equipment? HP? IBM? Intel? I could keep going, but I wanted to kind of use companies that Canonical has worked with that Microsoft has worked with as well. How many you out there love your new Intel i7? Why? Don’t you remember the late 90’s when Microsoft was driving Intel to only do things a certain way that would benefit Microsoft only? How many of you are driving a Ford? Shoot, how many of you own a car? How many deals do they have with Microsoft? What about that bicycle, as I know there are a few of us nuts who prefer to ride instead of drive? Your TV? Cable? Shop at Best Buy? Oh man, I could keep going. How many of you just went, “WTF DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE PRICE OF TEA IN <nsert county so I don’t offend anyone>?” It has a lot to do actually, and yes it is probably beating yet another dead horse. The reasoning I see a lot of with dealing with $X who in-turn has a deal with Microsoft, in this case Yahoo!, in many cases can be seen as hypocritical. Imagine a life if you only dealt with companies or people that didn’t have a deal with Microsoft. For those of you against this and use Google, not to long ago Google made a deal with Twitter who already had a deal with Microsoft in terms of searching. Did you just switch your default search engine because of that? How about Microsoft and Facebook? Strategic alliance between Microsoft and O’Reilly? Gonna stop reading O’Reilly books now? Sugar CRM? Xen Source? And the list goes on.

Let me cover those of you who are using System 76 or Zareason, or some other Linux only manufacturer, that want to keep the attack going possibly on the deal. Ever consider the hardware that is used in those systems? I know System 76 uses, or was using, MSI equipment. Guess what, big Microsoft deal there. I don’t care what it is, there is a damn good chance you are using something right now that has struck a deal with Microsoft.

Is this the year of the Linux desktop?

or…

Is Linux ready for the mainstream?

Two of the most sickening questions I have seen for over a decade. The answer will always be “NO!” until we realize we need to step from underneath this rock we, yes we, have put ourselves. We have this great product, but if we continue being split on whether the Free Software side or the Open Source side is the correct side, or we shouldn’t be doing these types of deals, let’s just keep our mouths shut and enjoy this lovely rock canopy we have created for ourselves. Oh, here comes a big bomb, Novell. I am not about to rip on Novell, sorry Boycott Novell. I do not agree with their merger whatsoever, but I am a first hand witness of the good that has actually come out of the deal. Guess what Novell is doing that we aren’t right now? They are showing large companies, Fortune 500 and then some, that there is a choice out there, there is more than just Microsoft for your infrastructure. I went to their IT In Action tour here in Chicago last year. Granted I didn’t appreciate it when they said, “Microsoft is now the largest provider of Linux service,” nor did I like when one of their speakers decided to take off his jacket and reveal this nasty Detroit Red Wings hockey jersey (/me points at the Ubuntu Michigan people with a grin). What I did like, and I was wicked impressed with, were these people who were almost to the point of bashing Linux before the event started, to being super stoked over the Linux platform and the tools that Novell had when it was all over. Here I was an Ubuntu guy, and they knew that and welcomed me with open arms, who came in defending Linux and left helping some of these companies switch to, or look at the possibilities of switching to Linux. So thanks Novell for helping me get a few consulting gigs out of the tour.

I feel we, the Linux community, need to unite more so than we have. Not a fan of President Obama, but last night during his State of the Union address, he talked about reaching over those party lines. I think we need to do the same thing. Hey, if Microsoft is evil and they won’t reach their hand out, then why shouldn’t we try? OK, no more politics, OK maybe one more. Let’s tear down this wall! OK, that was lame, but I had to do it because it made me chuckle a little. I am not saying lets sell out to Microsoft, because that is definitely the last thing I want. You see us Linux people look at the big guy and concentrate on trying to make them look bad. In my eyes, we aren’t winning that battle, and while we keep carrying it forward, there is this person in the middle who is seemingly getting bigger and bigger every time they announce an iSomething. So instead of spending membership money to stand out in front of some silly event with a sign, lets think of better ways to use it. There are so many people out there who see people with signs picketing something, and a majority of the time these people go unnoticed, except for that one rogue honk, which believe it or not wasn’t supporting your campaign.

OK, that should be it. I am sure it is all confusing, so please feel free to respond anyway you feel is right in the comments. Thank you, and I apologize for causing you to spend this time possibly reading absolutely nothing.

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