Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, AppDynamics Blog, Sanjay Zalavadia, Mehdi Daoudi

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Ubuntu User and Member Ryan Lortie Writes Open Letter to Free Software Foundation

He raises some big points dealing with the goals of the FSF and how to accomplish them

The Free Software Foundation is recommending gNewSense and Ututo as beginners' Linux distributions. Ubuntu user and member Ryan Lortie has written an Open Letter to the FSF raising some big points dealing with the goals of the FSF and how to accomplish them. We bring you the full text.
Hello FSF,

This is an open letter.

In the past year your organisation has seemingly taken a new stance on what is important. You have started participating in things that matter to people other than hackers. You are making attempts to reach normal people -- wouldbe consumers of Trojan Horse technology products. These efforts are absolutely commendable. There is no doubt that the fight for freedom will be won only by convincing people that there are practical alternatives to companies that are more interested in their bottom lines than they are in providing a working product.

Your Defective By Design campaign is brilliant. I've actually heard people other than hackers (albeit, still geeks) talking about it. Your new Bad Vista campaign also hits the nail right on the head by letting customers know what they need to know to make an informed decision. A distinct feature of these campaigns is that they don't spend time harping about ideological freedom, but rather, stress real world problems inherent in DRM. You talk about practical problems that people will encounter and be affected by. You talk about practical solutions.

I am writing this letter because of a controversial decision that you have made.

The Bad Vista page contains the following text:

...and provide a user-friendly gateway to the adoption of free software operating systems like gNewSense ( and Ututo ( 

I'm not aware of what Ututo is, but by your recommending it, I'm going to assume that it is subject to the same problems with gNewSense.

From the standpoint of focusing on real practical issues rather than harping about ideology, gNewSense is basically exactly the same thing as Ubuntu except that it doesn't work on most people's computers.

People have ATI and nVidia video cards. Most people have laptops with wireless cards that at least require firmware.

One of the real practical problems with closed source software is that if there's a bug then you can't fix the bug and this might prevent you from using your hardware. In terms of practicality, this isn't really much better then not being able to use your hardware at all in the first place.

Another practical problem is that gNewSense isn't a rock star. Ubuntu is.

Let's face it -- no matter how good you are, you're not going to get the average computer user to install a new operating system. The people you will convince to do this are people who are already technology geeks. These are the same people who have read tech news sites talking about this "Ubuntu" thing.

Faced with a recommendation to install gNewSense, they will say "huh?". Faced with a recommendation to install Ubuntu, they just might say "ya... I've been hearing a lot about that. Maybe I should give it a try."

Even if you manage to get people to install gNewSense, you're most likely going to be harming your cause. The overwhelming majority of computer users have some hardware that requires some sort of binary-only code to operate. People will install gNewSense and, with very high likelihood, some part of their system won't work. They will get frustrated and annoyed -- possibly turned off of free software forever. I know people who still pass judgement on Linux as a whole based on experiences from 5 years ago.

Ubuntu is more or less 99% free. It doesn't even come anywhere close to being as awful as Vista is. Besides -- I bet your computer is already at least a little non-free. Is your BIOS open source? The ROM firmware on all your devices? Your CPU's microcode? We all put up with these things in the meantime because we understand that the only chance of success will be to get people on to our platform. Without users, we can't make demands.

I understand that it's quite a strange position to be in to be condemning Ubuntu on one hand for their shipping of proprietary code, while recommending them to people on the other hand. To do so would require swallowing some pride. I hope that this is something that you're capable of doing.

Through your campaigns of the past year you've indicated your understanding of the fact that your key to success lies in public acceptance. Recommending Ubuntu instead of gNewSense will increase the public's acceptance of your platform. You have to make sacrifices -- that's just the way it is.

I'm sure you appreciate the importance of what you're trying to do and that you realise what a unique opportunity you have right now. Please don't waste it.

I am an Ubuntu user and member. This letter is my personal opinion.

Ryan Lortie

More Stories By Linux News Desk

SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

Comments (5) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
just me 01/04/07 09:45:44 AM EST

"Another practical problem is that gNewSense isn't a rock star. Ubuntu is"

If Ubuntu is a rock star, something is wrong, very wrong

Try installing a Ubuntu deb on a debian distro and vise/versa and watch the system get destroyed. The Boob is NOT Debian compatible period !!

Ubuntu an african word for people who can't install Debian

I would rather use windows 98 than Ubuntu

just me 01/04/07 09:45:36 AM EST

"Another practical problem is that gNewSense isn't a rock star. Ubuntu is"

If Ubuntu is a rock star, something is wrong, very wrong

Try installing a Ubuntu deb on a debian distro and vise/versa and watch the system get destroyed. The Boob is NOT Debian compatible period !!

Ubuntu an african word for people who can't install Debian

I would rather use windows 98 than Ubuntu

fred arnold 01/03/07 09:31:44 PM EST

dude this is beyond clueless. The FSF does not promote non-Free software. writing an open letter instead of contacting them directly is not a genuine communication, just a stupid PR stunt promoting Ubuntu. Ubuntu is getting less Free with every release, which mr shuttleworth promised would never happen. so much for promises.

If you want to help the FSF, how about putting some genuine effort into working with hardware vendors to supply open source drivers? That would be meaningful. Not ramming ubuntu down everyone's throat. 12/31/06 07:57:23 AM EST

Trackback Added: gNoSense; If you want people to use your Linux, you have to provide the measures that it will simply work on most people’s PCs. If an otherwise good organisation like the Free Software Foundation now recommends the Linux distribution gNewSense, which is Ub...

Marcus Moeller 12/31/06 06:05:36 AM EST

I would personally suggest Debian GNU/Linux before Ubuntu, as I really think its more tested, stable and it's main tree does not include non-free software.

With Debian Etch and the new GTK+ Frontend to d-i, installation is a harm.

I don't really understand why ubuntu users and developers try to predict that their product is the best above all.

Dont't forget that ubuntu is a commercial distribution with canonical in the background.

And of course, ubuntu is nothing really special. It is originally based on a modified version of Debian SID (which is also known as unstable in the Debian world) and has a branched repository, instad of using the original Debian package source.

The only thing I know that devides ubuntu from other distributions is the ship-it program on which you can order free CDs.

Uncommercial distribution cannot offer this service without funding. It reminds me a bit of the M$ OEM strategy.

Best Regards

@ThingsExpo Stories
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....