November 28, 2006

Shuttleworth responds to openSUSE invitation fallout

Author: Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth's invitation to openSUSE developers last week has generated heat from openSUSE developers and some members of the Ubuntu community. In an effort to set the record straight, Shuttleworth says that it was not his intent to offend openSUSE devs.

In an email response to questions about his most recent blog post, Shuttleworth says that his offer is "an invitation to an Open Week, not a criticism of SUSE.

"Developers move between projects all the time, and I know a number of SUSE developers are frustrated by Novell's handling of the Microsoft deal and are considering other projects. So pointing out that we are hosting an Open Week seems timely."

Shuttleworth also says that he hopes that Open Week "could in part be a forum for discussing collaboration between Ubuntu and SUSE.

"Currently we don't have deep links between the distros, in the same way that we do with Debian, and I think it would be interesting to see how to go about setting that up. I've responded to questions from some SUSE folks in that vein."

Shuttleworth defended his decision to solicit openSUSE developers directly, writing that "In the past two weeks I've fielded many mails from SUSE developers in regard to this, so I believe it was reasonable to point out the timely Ubuntu Open Week. I very much hope all of this helps to bring home to Novell executives the folly of their course, and results in the termination of the patent-related aspects of the deal."

However, Shuttleworth also offered apologies to "anybody who was offended by my extension of the invitation to OpenSUSE developers."

On his blog, Shuttleworth also wrote that no offense was intended to the SUSE distribution, and that his comments were "about Novell's extraordinary decision to legitimise Microsoft's IP claims over Linux in general."

In that light, Shuttleworth writes that he'd expect developers to jump ship if Canonical made a similar decision. "I have serious concerns about the Novell-Microsoft deal -- and so do other people who make huge contributions to the body of free software. Novell and SUSE are of course deeply linked, and so the actions of one do have consequences for the other. I would expect the same sort of consequences in Ubuntu if Canonical made [a] poor decision."

After Shuttleworth made the offer, Ubuntu came under renewed fire for its practice of shipping some proprietary drivers. Shuttleworth says that he was not suggesting that Ubuntu is perfect, but "only that we would have nothing to do with Ballmer's offer and are deeply conscious of the impact of this sort of deal on the long-term future of free software."


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