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Ubuntu and Debian

Ubuntu caused a lot of friction with and for Debian. In discussions with its founder, Mark Shuttleworth, and other Ubuntu developers during (and before) Debconf6, I was able to spell out the main criticisms from the Debian perspectives of the way Canonical/Ubuntu is handling things (without a claim to completeness). These criticisms mainly stem from discussions with fellow developers over the past 18 months, and I largely support all of them. I am publicising them here to help make the status quo more transparent.

Before I go on, I want you to know that my neutral and somewhat even supportive stance towards Ubuntu has led many Debian folks to conclude that I must be a Canonical employee; I never was nor will be.

Let's go:

On Friday night of the Debconf6 conference, Mark assembled a bunch of people discuss the inter-project relationship. The (large) number of people who eventually joined, as well as the choice of venue (with live music) made the discussion somewhat awkward, but we did manage to get some good talking done, and I raised all of the above points. See the minutes of the meeting if interested.

With their latest release out the door and a little more time on their hands (at least for a while), I hope that Canonical will follow up on the resolutions of the evening, as they have promised. The same goes for Debian, of course.

There's very little Ubuntu can do about the jealousy other than acknowledge it, but it would be an important start. In addition, I hope to see all of the following take place rather sooner than later:

If I may add a thought that has come up lately (it's not only mine): a derivative like Ubuntu, namely one pushing Debian to the desktop, is an important asset for Debian. However, the only way this is going to work from the Debian perspective is as a mutual effort. If Canonical/Ubuntu do not realise this, maybe another derivative has to step in to fill the void?

I hope this blog entry accomplishes what it tries, namely to shed some (more) light onto the relationship between Debian and Ubuntu, and to help the Canonical/Ubuntu side better understand the Debian perspective.

Sorry for the length, I've worked on this entry ever since Debconf6 and despite a lot of editing (also by others; thank you!), it just wouldn't get shorter. Thanks for reading it all (assuming that's what you did if you arrived here).

Update: this post has spread significantly, it seems. Thanks to all who've passed it on. I know of the following threads that ensued:

If you find any others, please let me know.