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It's difficult to know what to make of the announcement without have some idea what Blue Systems actually is.
Kubuntu to be sponsored by Blue Systems
Posted Apr 10, 2012 17:59 UTC (Tue) by jospoortvliet (subscriber, #33164)
Quite cool that Riddel got a job which for him must be far more fun than working on Unity or stuff like that :D
And it's quite cool for Kubuntu too, although I wonder if they'll have to rename. Canonical stopped Riddel from working on it for a reason...
Posted Apr 10, 2012 18:02 UTC (Tue) by jospoortvliet (subscriber, #33164)
* Power-up, not dumb-down
* Include add-ons, codecs, customizations
* Avoid lock-ins, favor free(libre) alternatives if possible
The right ideas for people who need to get work done, I'd say. And pretty much the same as the openSUSE 'strategy', although oS can't legally ship codecs and non-free stuff.
Posted Apr 10, 2012 18:07 UTC (Tue) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639)
I dont see anything about "selling computers" I'm not saying you are factually incorrect...I'm just not seeing anything authoritative which supports the statement that they are primarily in the business of selling computers. Or for that matter in any business at all.
Posted Apr 10, 2012 18:52 UTC (Tue) by oever (subscriber, #987)
Posted Apr 11, 2012 3:41 UTC (Wed) by lambda (subscriber, #40735)
I don't think that was in question. The question isn't whether they develop Netrunner; the question is what business are they in; how do they make their money? It's great that they are supporting Kubuntu, but it would be kind of nice to know how. For instance, can I buy a machine with Kubuntu, Linux Mint KDE, or Netrunner preinstalled? Are they going to be supporting it all on ad revenue? Are they an IT consultancy that happens to work a lot with Ubuntu derivatives running KDE?
Posted Apr 11, 2012 4:02 UTC (Wed) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639)
The Ubuntu trademark policy http://www.ubuntu.com/aboutus/trademarkpolicy
specifically stipulates :
"We reserve the right to review all usage within the open source community, and to object to any usage that appears to overstep the bounds of discussion and good-faith non-commercial development. In any event, once a project has left the open source project phase or otherwise become a commercial project, this policy does not authorise any use of the Trademarks in connection to that project."
So yeah what Blue Systems actually does as a commercial entity (assuming they are a commercial entity) matters a heck of a lot if the Kubuntu marks are still owned by Canonical. The standard trademark policy does not authorize Blue Systems to field a commercial Kubuntu branded product without seeking an additional trademark license from Canonical. That's not a particular good place to be if they plan to compete with Canonical with OEM contracts.
I really really hope Canonical has given up unilateral control of the Kubuntu trademarks now that they seem to no longer be the chief business interest. Holding on to the marks to squeeze licensing revenue from Blue Systems or some other supporting business interest would be a pretty petty move. I'm _not_ saying that is what is happening. I have no idea what is happening or for that matter who Blue Systems actually is. For all I know its another billionare's pet project to bleed money with no real interest in being a successful business.
Whatever is going on here with Blue Systems backing multiple KDE distributions (which is a little bit of a head scratcher really)... whomever steps up to provide financial support for Kubuntu needs to have the ability to go after commercial products based on Kubuntu..and branded as Kubuntu...without being shackled by restrictions imposed by Canonical. I don't see how that's really possible unless the marks get transferred (at the very least to a neutral non-profit.)
Posted Apr 11, 2012 5:43 UTC (Wed) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Posted Apr 11, 2012 17:57 UTC (Wed) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639)
But lets put this in the context of what has actually happened over the last couple of months. When Canonical was the driving commercial entity supporting Kubuntu, their stewardship of the marks seemed reasonably equitable to me. But that relationship has changed. Canonical has acknowledged that they are taking a step back from their role. Which is fine, I think they've spread their meager resources way to thin for too long and they've finally retrenched into a more focused engineering effort around Unity. Again all of that is perfectly fine.
But if they aren't going to be the driver for Kubuntu, and they aren't looking at Kubuntu as a revenue stream as part of their support offerings (And remember 12.04 LTS Kubuntu is _not_ going to have commercial support offerings from Canonical..this has been restated by multiple Canonical execs. Its a bit confusing but there it is) then holding on to the marks and limiting how other potential commercial entities can make use of the marks to build a business that pays for Kubuntu development is _not_ in the best interest of the Kubuntu developer nor user community.
The commercial entities which are stepping up to _fund_ development need to be able to use the project brand in a commercial manner without interference or paying tribute to another commercial entity that has stepped away from its obligation as chief commercial supporter and is now squatting on the brand value..brand value built primarily by unpaid volunteers.
Posted Apr 11, 2012 18:07 UTC (Wed) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Sponsor != Owner
as far as I can tell, the sponsorship here consists of paying one developer out of many. That's good, but that's hardly taking control of the project.
I could setup a monthly donation of $10 to Kubuntu (or to a Kubuntu developer) and I would then also be a "sponsor" of Kubuntu.
This would be like saying that RedHat needs to have control of the Linux trademarks and branding because they contribute so much development effort to the Linux kernel. They may be the single biggest contributer (at least for most kernel releases), but that doesn't mean they control the project.
In fact, from what I remember from the 'who contributed to version X' articles, the contribution from redhat to the Linux kernel is very similar to the contribution from the one developer that Blue Systems is going to be paying for to Kubuntu (and even that ignores the fact that 99% of the packages available in Kubuntu are never touched by the Kubuntu team because they are the standard Ubuntu packages)
Posted Apr 12, 2012 1:06 UTC (Thu) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639)
I am not saying that the dominate for-profit vendor needs to own the mark to do business. If I am saying anything, I am saying that is exactly the situation which upstream projects should endeavor to avoid if they want a robust multi-vendor support network. They need to try to make it possible for multiple vendors to use the marks on a non-discriminatory basis in conjunction with commercial products and services.
What I am saying is that making sure that _one_ vendor (or group of vendors) does not have undue influence over how the marks are licensed to other contributing vendors in order to ensure a fair playing field with regard to marketing products that make use of the upstream code.
So to go backing to the specifics of your analogy with regard to the linux marks and Red Hat....
I would _loath_ it if Red Hat owned the marks to the linux kernel and set up a trademark policy which gave themselves the preferential and discriminatory access to use the marks in their marketing materials over competing vendors who wanted to use the linux marks in association with their products and services which directly competed with Red Hat's products. I much prefer that trademark licensing for projects intended to have multiple vendor support be administered by a vendor-neutral non-profit who isn't looking to garner competitive advantage in the marketplace by excluding other vendors from being able to use the mark.
Posted Apr 11, 2012 14:53 UTC (Wed) by sebas (subscriber, #51660)
Interestingly, I've talked with Jonathan about renaming Kubuntu to show a greater degree of independence a few years back, but have moved on since. Now it's back on the table, and it still seems a good idea to me.
Posted Apr 11, 2012 17:53 UTC (Wed) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
Kubuntu is not a separate distribution, it's the Ubuntu packages and compile options, just with a different default desktop.
I would be very disappointed if the kubuntu folks decided to throw away the Ubuntu resources (repositories, testing, bug reporting, etc) that are spent on all the diverse packages available just because they use KDE instead of Unity as the desktop.
One of the really good things about Kubuntu is that it doesn't force people into a choice between Kubuntu and Ubuntu, all desktops are available, and can be installed at the same time with it being a login option which one to use. If it becomes a separate distribution, a log of this is lost
Posted Apr 12, 2012 13:05 UTC (Thu) by sebas (subscriber, #51660)
Posted Apr 11, 2012 18:26 UTC (Wed) by JanC_ (guest, #34940)
Lots of "open source companies" invest in upstream projects without being able to commercialize the upstream trademark.
The owner of Blue Systems needs the KDE packages in Ubuntu as a base for his Netrunner OS, so he obviously wants them to be in the best possible shape. Apparently he decided that sponsoring Kubuntu is a good way to do that.
And if he needs a brand to make money, he can use this "Netrunner" brand, of course.
Posted Apr 11, 2012 21:27 UTC (Wed) by jspaleta (subscriber, #50639)
However... since the Kubuntu marks are controlled by Canonical still..and the public trademark policy Canonical provides specifically prohibits use of the marks for anything with commercial intent...then no..this isn't really a parallel situation for things like all the ASF projects.
It's more of a parallel of Openstack. Openstack is essentially dominated by Rackspace and Rackspace owns the marks (well actually Openstack LLC ownes the marks but Openstack LLC is a subsidiary of Rackspace....). But Rackspace has already publicly stated their intention to create a non-profit foundation in 2012 and transfer ownership of the marks. Vendor-nuetral control of the branding does matter to foster to prevent inherent conflict of interests in a multi-vendor support approach to a project.
What I am saying is Kubuntu would benefit from a similar vendor-neutral approach to the marks. Blue Systems doesn't need to own the marks...nor does Canonical. They just need equal access for commercial use. A vendor-neutral steward of the marks would provide that.
Posted Apr 21, 2012 16:36 UTC (Sat) by JanC_ (guest, #34940)
Kubuntu is still a part of the overall Ubuntu project & community, and I see no reason to make different rules for them (or for any of the other subprojects, be it technical or social projects or somewhere in between).
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