Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce Ubuntu for Android is all about the cash registers

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Oft times, when I have raised the issue of Canonical, the parent company of the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution, focusing on making money, there have been murmurs of disapproval.

People in FOSS circles don't like to talk about that kind of thing openly; making money is fine if it is done quietly, but pointing out that developing free or open source software can also be as crassly commercial an activity as, say, the activities of Microsoft, is considered to be, well, not kosher.

Now, Canonical has proved what I have been saying for quite some time - the company is starting to look to its bottomline more and more. It's been seven years and a bit since the first version of Ubuntu was released and Mark Shuttleworth does not have bottomless pockets.

Hence Ubuntu for Android, one more way to make a bit of money. The music store, the cloud, are also efforts in that direction.

The idea, if examined dispassionately, is plain silly. Why would one have, on one's mobile, a system that can be used only when one is docked into a bigger device? Wouldn't it make better sense to have that system on the bigger device itself?

There are bits and pieces of Ubuntu that one can use on one's mobile - but the existing system already has all those bits, a good example being a way to handle one's music. And there are bits which do not come along with this beast - LibreOffice, for example, isn't there, one has to use GoogleDocs.

The only word for it is that ubiquitous one which describes everything and nothing - cool. FOSS people are also big on another meaningless word - awesome. The latter covers everything from well-designed software to the underwear that someone bought on eBay.

The public information about Ubuntu for Android make it plain that this is a binary - there is no mention of source, though I presume that source for components which are under the GPL category of licences will be available - which offers some of the functionality of a full Ubuntu system.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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