Here's one point that I think was missed from the debate.
In this article, he writes:
> our [Ubuntu's] kernel consists almost entirely of
> code we receive from upstream.
> Why, then, does Greg feel that Canonical should be
> expected to make more changes to the Linux kernel?
> Is it because Ubuntu is a very popular system, with a
> lot of users? It is that, but most people who use Linux
> arent kernel developers, so a large user population
> doesnt translate to a lot of Linux kernel patches.
(He goes on to list other potential reasons that he considers improbable)
I can't speak for Greg or anyone else. But I think that this reason is valid.
Ubuntu's users surely run into problems with, say, the kernel. They use some newer hardware, they do some unpredictable things. Being the "non-kernel-developers", they surely don't work out those problems directly with upstream. This is why you have a distribution. Some of them will report bugs. Ubuntu developers respond to those bugs and fix them. Some of them result in code fixes.
So if we see very few contributions from Ubuntu in the upstream kernel, what can it mean. I don't really know which of those is actually responsible for the problems.
(And note that Ubuntu != Cannonical)
1. Ubuntu's users run into relatively few bugs. Can't be. Where there are users, there are bugs :-)
2. Ubuntu's users don't report enough bugs. This would mean Ubuntu is very buggy. This is a problem for Ubuntu.
3. Users report issues, but the Ubuntu developers fail to solve most of them. If so, this is a problem of the level of support Ubuntu's users get from their developers.
4. Ubuntu's developers fix problems, but don't forward enough of the fixes upstream. If so, Ubuntu is not a good community member, and its developers create themselves maintenance issues.
We all agree on the impact of (1) and (2). We all do our best to increase the number of bugs (develop software) and help users report bugs. So let's focus on potential reasons (3) and (4).
If (3) is an issue, it impacts Ubuntu's name. Specifically, it impacts Cannonical's ability to provide professional support services on top of Ubuntu: if they do a bad job maintaining a distribution, why would I bother paying them for it?