Note: This post is part four of a series of thoughts on the relationship between Canonical and GNOME.
Tempers will occasionally flare in large communities with many stakeholders. There will always be a delta between the goals, strategies and assumptions of different groups and individuals. Unless we achieve perfect transparency and communication, circumstances like this are sure to arise.
Open communication is challenging in a highly distributed environment, of course, but when a disparate network must interact with clusters of comparatively more efficient communicators (co-workers in the same office, for example), a special kind of friction is created.
This is not unique to Open Source, either. Consider the Nokia experience: Years of vicious internal warfare, infighting between and even within divisions, and for what? If Nokia were a squabbling family around the Christmas lunch table, Stephen Elop was the aloof uncle who left to enjoy Christmas Day on a park bench with the local wino instead.
So the sky is not falling. This is not the end of Software Freedom, GNOME, Canonical, the “Linux desktop” or anything else. The cure is communication, and finding better ways of working together.
There’s a very important thing to remember at times like this: Every day, volunteer and paid developers, from around the world and every contributing organisation, are quietly cooperating in their work on GNOME.
It’s not sexy. It’s not political. It’s getting the job done. Filing and fixing bugs, landing all the little changes in a long transition, coordinating releases, and sharing knowledge that will benefit everyone.
This particular brouhaha may be about a single company, but when you read about tensions between Canonical and GNOME, keep in mind that Canonical developers working in the trenches are unlikely to be at fault, and may well be unhappy with the situation too.
They, along with developers from Red Hat, Novell, Intel — and all the others, because there are too many to name — are still very much our brothers and sisters in GNOME.
They’re not involved in the politics. They’re flying under the radar. Spreading the love.
Disclosure: I enjoyed working for Canonical from 2004-2006, and although I have occasionally been accused of shilling for Ubuntu since then, I suspect few at Canonical would regard me as their #1 fan at the moment. I haven’t been involved in GNOME for quite some time, and generally try to avoid thinking about it very often.