Ubuntu Business Remix update

Mark Shuttleworth mark at ubuntu.com
Tue Jan 31 08:18:34 UTC 2012

On 31/01/12 05:02, Scott Kitterman wrote:
> At least from my point of view, this misses the concern. Partner is a
> private Canonical archive that Ubuntu developers are completely
> uninvolved with. It is even less a part of Ubuntu than non-free is
> part of Debian. I don't think we need to retroactively declare Partner
> part of Ubuntu to allow the business remix to go forward and I think
> it will be damaging to Ubuntu as a free software project to do so. 

Is there a mechanism you can think of which would allow, say, VMWare
software to be 'part of Ubuntu'? From my perspective:

 * it would need to be exposed in the software center
 * it would need a counterparty to a VMWare distribution agreement,
 * it would need to be packaged to a high standard, modulo the
constraints imposed by the ISV

>From a user perspective, it would need to represent the 'best and
recommended way to consume that software on Ubuntu'.

Having an archive backed by Canonical allows us (Ubuntu) to enable users
to use their standard tools across a wider range of software. It saves
them from tarballs, install scripts, wget | sudo etc ;-)

If I understand your email, you're saying 'it's OK for this remix to go
ahead without us retroactively declaring partner as part of Ubuntu'. I
appreciate that. But I prefer to see if there's a way we can bring
Partner into the fold, because I think it's divisive to have exceptions,
and I think it's important to agree on the mission. Access to non-free
stuff in a classy way, from a free platform, is part of that mission. We
may have our own aspirations to obsolete the stuff in partner asap, but
the mission of Ubuntu is not to make users lives more difficult. That
would be like security through obscurity, it would be 'freedom through
complication', and no good freedom at all!

>> My understanding, which could be mistaken, is that:
>>  * the standards for that archive should be as high as those for SRU's,
>> since we pump updates there to world+dog and the stuff is exposed via
>> software center
>>  * we make the same security commitment there as we do for Ubuntu,
>> modulo availability of source, so it's the same as restricted in that
>> regard> 
>>  * third parties are free to remix from there, to the extent they also
>> have distribution rights for the relevant bits (Canonical don't assert
>> any IP in the packaging work)
> I'm not aware of anyone having recent complaints about the quality of 
> packaging in Partner.  This isn't, at least to me, about how well Partner is 
> working, it's about what it is.

Indeed :)

But can we at least agree that Partner should work well? Perhaps ask for
a review of what's in there and steer it in a better direction, if there
are concerns? I would feel the TB should be comfortable expressing a
view on *how* to achieve that goal, I'm less comfortable with the TB
expressing a view on whether that's a goal for the project, but then I
respect all the folk *on* the TB, all of whom are also long term and
senior project leaders, which is why it makes sense to engage in the thread.

>> The 'extras' archive is a good catch, Colin. And the description of a
>> remix as "you can get here by starting with vanilla Ubuntu and fiddling
>> around in a package manager" is very useful too. It captures the core
>> goal of remixes:
>>  * allow third parties to use the Ubuntu name with very low friction
>>  * ensure that policy results in things which are, in some clear sense,
>> compatible with Ubuntu
> So other commercial software gotten in through the commercial mechanisms in 
> software center would be eligible for being in some other remix?

The question for me is one of handwavy topology: could I start with
standard Ubuntu, morph to the remix without adding software sources that
we (in the dualistic definition of we) don't have any control over, and
conversely, could I start with the remix and use apt to get back to
something like vanilla Ubuntu?

That way:

 * we know we're on a supported kernel and toolchain the whole time
 * we know we're on supported X and glibc and Gtk and Qt

Of course, ymmv, there's a LOT of software in the universe, etc. But
principally, we don't have alternative versions of key packages to work
out. That's what makes a remix different to something that includes,
say, a PPA. The namespace across those core archives is maintained as a
whole. Or should be.

>> Would folk be happy if the Partner standards were articulated and
>> committed, in the way described? FWIW I've asked the team to hold off on
>> publishing till we've explored this fully together, but if we could
>> reach agreement by email that would be much appreciated.
> Ultimately I think what is or is not acceptable for a remix is driven by the 
> trademark policy and is up to Canonical, but I very much hope that Ubuntu the 
> distribution will maintain it's focus as a free software (with some limited 
> exceptions) distribution.

I'd prefer Canonical to be making a remix under the same terms as a
third party. In this case, that third party would need distribution
rights, but those are straightforward to obtain, usually at no cost
other than the need to package the work.... which has been done for you :-)


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