Wednesday, 20 October 2010 08:30

Shuttleworth denies move toward Open Core

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Mark Shuttleworth has denied that his company, Canonical, which is known in FOSS circles for its Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution, has any Open Core products or any plan to accept it as a strategy.


He was reacting to allegations made by Bradley Kuhn, a board member of the Free Software Foundation and executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, that Canonical was moving toward an Open Core model, one in which free or open source software is sold along with proprietary add-ons.

The article containing these allegations was headlined "Canonical, Ltd. Finally On Record: Seeking Open Core." It was based on the transcript of a chat session that Shuttleworth had with users during the normal open week that follows the release of a version of Ubuntu, in this case version 10.10 otherwise known as Maverick Meerkat.

Open Core is an idea that has been pushed by vendors and analysts this year as the rush to make money off free and open source software grows.

Kuhn later admitted that the headline he had used was something of an exaggeration. "I agree my title was a bit of an exaggeration. I'd change it, but I am not sure that would clarify things, and probably would look strange," he said.

"Based on feedback, I did add a note at the bottom of the post making it clear that this reading of these events is my opinion, not fact," he wrote in a response to readers' comments on the Linux Weekly News website which had linked to his article.

 



Shuttleworth told iTWire: "Very simply, Canonical has no Open Core products nor any plan to adopt it as a strategy.

"Bradley's commentary is based entirely on speculation. I'd encourage anyone interested to read the transcript of the questions I was answering on IRC during Ubuntu Open Week."

In his article, Kuhn tried to find an answer as to why Canonical asks contributors to assign copyright to the company, instead of allowing them to retain it themselves. (corrected)

Earlier this year, when Jonathan Corbett of LWN questioned this policy and said he had been unable to get a viewpoint from Shuttleworth, the Canonical owner promptly responded to a query from iTWire, and at length, outlining his company's stance.

Kuhn initially criticised Shuttleworth for the views outlined in that article.

Shuttleworth did not touch on any of the other points that Kuhn has raised in his recent Open Core piece, adding that he would answer it at length as soon as the upcoming Ubuntu Developer Summit was over.

Kuhn had raised an interesting point, that Canonical chief executive Jane Silber had recently visited the GNOME Foundation (corrected) while licence requirements were being documented, to ask that GNOME contributors abandon their longstanding preference for no copyright assignment.

 

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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