When did Ubuntu evovle?

Colin Watson cjwatson at ubuntu.com
Thu Oct 10 22:26:53 UTC 2013

On Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 04:28:48PM +0100, Liam Proven wrote:
> Its officially-unacknowledged inspiration was Bruce Perens' UserLinux
> project. Google him & that for more info.

There was probably some element of early inspiration, and I believe Mark
had a discussion with Bruce at some point not long before founding
Canonical.  It would be true to say that UserLinux and Ubuntu had
somewhat similar goals at the highest level.

Without wishing to denigrate Bruce's work, though, I think it's a bit
strong to describe UserLinux as Ubuntu's inspiration as if it were the
main one.  UserLinux didn't really come up all that much in the early
discussions about what was to become Ubuntu (I have an almost complete
archive of our original primary internal mailing list, high-traffic for
quite a long time, which contains ten messages *total* mentioning
UserLinux).  I suppose this was mainly because the actual amount of code
they were emitting was fairly limited; comments on
http://lwn.net/Articles/151642/ make similar points.  We knew they were
out there, but we were trying to do things in a rather different way and
so they didn't really register a great deal in practice.

Debian itself was a much deeper inspiration, really, along with the
release management practices of GNOME and a number of the revision
control ideas that were floating around in the Arch project, and I
expect Mark's previous commercial experience as well.  I can't speak for
Mark, but for those of us who were brought in early from Debian - at
least a plurality of the early hires - I think I can safely generalise
that our main motivation was that we'd been working on Debian for a
while and shared various frustrations with the way the project operated
at the time, along with a great excitement at the chance to bring it to
a much wider audience.

Personally, if I had to pick a Debian-based distribution to cite as an
inspiration, I'd have gone for Progeny.  They produced a bunch of
interesting technology and funded a lot of work on important parts of
Debian while they were active, things that now seem just part of the
infrastructure we expect to be there.  Their mention in
http://joeyh.name/blog/entry/all_this_for_a_progress_bar/ comes to mind,
for example, along with an awful lot of work on X, and I'm sure a great
deal else.  Looking back I see quite a few similarities with Ubuntu.


Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson at ubuntu.com]

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