Burgundavia is currently certified at Journeyer level.

Name: Corey Burger
Member since: 2005-06-10 06:03:42
Last Login: 2011-11-03 23:03:18

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Documentor and Usablity guy with Ubuntu

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7 Years of Ubuntu

It doesn't seem like 7 years ago that Ubuntu came into this world (and just over since I started using it), but apparently it is. The world (and Ubuntu) have changed a lot in seven years. While I am no fan of some of the changes (closed sourced web apps), overall, it has been good. Here's to seven more years!
Piwik for the win!

It is no secret that I am not a fan of closed source web applications and think they are ultimately detrimental to the future. Unlike others, I don't see a distinction between a "service" and an application. To argue that "services" don't need to free because they are somehow different than applications ignores the reality that for the average user, that distinction no longer exists. Ubuntu Netbook Edition is explicitly removing applications because they claim that web-based tools can replace them, not to mention the more extreme Jolicloud and ChromeOS which do away with desktop applications all together. If we are not careful, we will end up back in the 1980s again, wondering where the source code to our printer word processor went.

However, the reality is that until recently, there were few really good choices in some categories. I run my personal website, coreyburger.ca, on Wordpress, but that is one of the few categories where Open Source has been ahead of the closed source world in terms of ease of use and marketshare.

One of the major holes until recently was Google Analytics, which gives website admins some powerful tools for tracking visitors and how they use your site (and all that entails). Thankfully, this hole has been very well filled with Piwik, an open source competitor to Google Analytics that is racing to feature parity.

So about two months ago I decided to ditch GA as part of a general trend to slowly excise these closed source online applications from my life and jump to Piwik and I haven't looked back. It only needs the LAMP stack, so it will run anywhere Wordpress will. So for those users of GA, I encourage you to free yourself just a little bit more and give Piwik a try.

13 May 2009 (updated 14 May 2009 at 00:32 UTC) »
Extracating ourselves from the UbuntuOneUbunet mess

Yesterday I wrote about the new UbuntuOne service from Canonical. Around the same time, Tony Yarusso filed a bug report, the potential confusion around the use of the Ubuntu trademark and UbuntuOne. Specifically, this section of the trademark policy:

If you are producing new software which is intended for use with or on Ubuntu, you may use the Trademark in a way which indicates the intent of your product. For example, if you are developing a system management tool for Ubuntu, acceptable project titles would be "System Management for Ubuntu" or "Ubuntu Based Systems Management". We would strongly discourage, and likely would consider to be problematic, a name such as UbuntuMan, Ubuntu Management, ManBuntu, etc. Furthermore, you may not use the Trademarks in a way which implies an endorsement where that doesn't exist, or which attempts to unfairly or confusingly capitalise on the goodwill or brand of the project.

and this one:

Any commercial use.

I think Tony is right and I personally think that Canonical erred in choosing the naming of this product. However, Canonical is the legal holder of the Ubuntu trademark and as such, granted itself the write to use the trademark is this way. What is in dispute is whether or not they violated the spirit of the agreement, rather than the letter.

Therefor, we can boil down the issues to two:

  1. The Ubuntu trademark is being used on a proprietary product
  2. Commercial trademark use of Ubuntu is controlled by Canonical, who may end up in a conflict of interest

I will also state was this is not about:

  1. doubting that Canonical has the best interests of the larger Ubuntu project in mind. It has demonstated that they do time and time again.
  2. That the product currently known as UbuntuOne is proprietary. Canonical already offers two non-free web apps: Landscape and Launchpad. I am not happy about the latter, but we finally have a commitment from Canonical to open source at least some of it.
So, with those things in mind, what do I see as the solution? Short term, I think Canonical to do one of two things:
  1. Publicly state that the server code of UbuntuOne (Ubunet) will be made free software and that UbuntuOne will follow the Franklin Street Statement by May 31st.
  2. Canonical rebrands UbuntuOne as Ubunet and keeps the server side proprietary. While I am terribly not happy if they choose this option, they do remove the major issue of dilution of the Ubuntu brand with a proprietary web-app. After all, Canonical choose not brand Landscape with the Ubuntu moniker, even though it is explicitly designed for it.

Long term, I think we need a new process for dealing with certain trademarks. Under the current trademark policy the Community Council (CC) is already responsible for dealing with issues regarding derivatives and advocacy. I propose we extend that to commercial trademarks, including by Canonical. However, I recognize that there are commercial implications involving privacy, etc. I propose that the CC agree to keep any such discussions out of the public until both sides agree (usually the launch of said project).

Overall, I think that UbuntuOneUbunet will be a great thing for Ubuntu and beyond. We need to look at software beyond the level of a single device. It is just too bad that Canonical choose not to follow the route of libre.fm and identi.ca and make a bold statement about freedom in this new web-based age.

12 May 2009 (updated 12 May 2009 at 20:02 UTC) »
Spot the differences


1) Company releases closed-source web-based software to allow users to keep files synced between computers
2) Company releases closed-source web-based software to allow users to keep files synced between computers

or


2004 - Canonical releases closed-source web app to improve collaboration between Open Source teams. Promises to release source "soon" and is roundly (and correctly) lambasted for continued failure to do that.
2009 - Canonical releases closed-source web app to allow users to keep files synced between computers. No promise of opening source (or even of roadmap)

Ugh. So we have a non-innovative project that is closed source and, IMHO, violates the spirit of the Ubuntu trademark agreement. (It doesn't violate the letter because Canonical owns the copyright. No other company could do this.)


Yes, I am talking about UbuntuOne. Oh, and they bloody spammed me via Launchpad. Sigh....

Benjamin Franklin (or Mark Twain or Einstein or perhaps nobody) comes to mind: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Update

Apparently I was not explicit enough. UbuntuOne != Ubuntu. It should not be using the Ubuntu copyright. Please see this Launchpad bug

Today is that day of voting

Well, by the end of today, I will learn if I have been elected to municipal office or not. Wish me luck.

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