Ubuntu Foundation

The more and more I see stellar Ubuntu contributors say Goodbye to Ubuntu the more I think there is a growing need for the Ubuntu Community to have a foundation much like WordPress, Python and any other number of open source projects.

Right now Ubuntu is driven by decision makers at Canonical with input from the community holding the least amount of weight and often none at all. This was not always the case and the culture has definitely changed from meritocracy and strong community values to purely product focus.

Why a Foundation is Important

Simply put things like this do not happen, and better yet a foundation would allow the community to be a real stakeholder in decisions surrounding Ubuntu’s direction and more important would allow the community to fundraise for the foundation which could bring back a physical Ubuntu Developer Summit.

Matt Mullenwag on transferring the WordPress Trademark to the newly formed WordPress Foundation:

“This means that the most central piece of WordPress’s identity, its name, is now fully independent from any company.”

I believe lacking an Ubuntu Foundation or the community being real stakeholders Ubuntu will become less and less each year about community or Linux for human beings and more and more about trying to make a profit or meet the expectations of Windows and Mac users that Canonical is so badly trying to woo.





  1. says

    I do agree with that. I strongly endorse Canonical as a primary sponsor and financier of many good contributors.

    I believe that both Ubuntu as a project and Canonical as a business is best served if people at the sticks ask our advice before they do controversial things. I thoroughly believe that there would’ve been no controversy over Mir if they’d let us in on the process before they told everyone else, for example. And this can also act as a failsafe for them.

    Ever since I joined Ubuntu in 2005/2006, one thing has been apparent to me; we are really bad at communication and most doesn’t even recognize it. We, as the Ubuntu Community, should make ourselves better at explaining the choices we make. And I am primarily a communicator. I’m really good at it too, but to quote the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes;

    «Data! Data! Data! I cannot make bricks without clay!»

    I want Ubuntu Members not to dismember themselves, but to unite. We are a group of people who obviously cares about Ubuntu, and are willing and able to tell Canonical how things should be done. Perhaps it’s time we do so. Because, I suspect, all Ubuntu Members know that Canonical’s communicative skills are quite poor, when it all comes down to dust.

    • says


      And TBH they have promised us more and more transparency. At UDS-Q Jono apologized for the whole Ubuntu TV bit being so secretive and promised Canonical would do better and communicate more openly and so on and so forth this was at the community roundtable session.

      But as you are aware things never did get better the open discussions never happened. Now we are getting push back and being told they have to be secretive otherwise carriers wont want to work with them and they will lose partners.

      All of that is rubbish because Mozilla as an example keeps their community in the loop and discusses the same kinds of products openly. We are told about announcements in advance of them being announced to the world and its not hurt Mozilla or Firefox OS.

      I think we all know Canonical can do better because it has in the past. I think we all know the Ubuntu Community can thrive and see less people moving on over things like this.

      • Alan Bell says

        Mozilla came out with a whole raft of partners at Mobile World Congress which was an orchestrated surprise, was all of that circulated on open mailing lists before MWC?

        • says

          No. It was not circulated on open mailing lists but contributors are kept in the loop. We knew about things before launches and in fact contributors were flown in to MWC to help out and have always been apart of the Firefox OS story.

          So open mailing lists no because that opens it to more than just the community. But private mailing lists that contributors and community are on yes.

          Mozilla Corporation and Foundation specifically make the gap between employees and contributors very small. Its a no-no to say the “Difference” when referring to community and staff at Mozilla.

    • says

      That didn’t end up ever happening from what I recall and also in reading mailing list threads after the fact. Plus that foundation was only going to be created in order to ensure that Canonical’s business contracts could be fulfilled should it fail as a business.

      Notably the foundation was not ever formed as a legal entity and community members were not hired.

      Do a search on the UK’s Company registry which documents all businesses and charities in the UK and you will not find a foundation.

      • Alan Bell says

        Dormant purpose trusts don’t go on a central register, so it is plausible that this exists, but does not have to register as a charity or company if it expects to have no income and no outgoings. Good question though, I always assumed it to exist but be dormant, there have been a few points where waking it up seemed like a good idea.

        • says

          Well at the same time the original announcement also said the Community Council would serve as a advisory board and the foundation would hire community members. We know both are not true and there was a mailing I believe by Mako after the fact that suggested why things did not happen.

          Either way I have been told that the trust if it does indeed exist is only to ensure that in the case Canonical ceases to exist that developers could be paid to fulfill Canonical’s contracts with partners.

          So the trust if activated would not be to help the project continue.

          Also a trust and a foundation are two very different things. A trust is not an entity it is a legal arrangement if x condition occurs. Other commenters have been under the impression that an actual foundation exists.

  2. fkol-k4 says

    Ok, i guess we can all agree that Canonical’s communication skills are poor (to put it mildly) and that makes it more and more difficult for people who care about Ubuntu to advocate for it.
    But in what way an Ubuntu foundation would help?
    -Would it take over Ubuntu’s course or communication?
    -Would it buy Ubuntu from Canonical?
    -Would it fork Ubuntu and part ways?

    No, i don’t think that a foundation is the answer, this is Debian’s way. The solution must come from within Canonical itself. Every single upset within the Ubuntu (and FOSS in general) community would have be avoided if only there had been another way to communicate.

    It’s not just what you say, it’s also how and when you say it too that matters. The decision and announcement makers within Ubuntu should realise that before anything else.

    • says

      But in what way an Ubuntu foundation would help?
      -Would it take over Ubuntu’s course or communication?

      No. But it would be more involved in communication and it would control the trademark.
      -Would it buy Ubuntu from Canonical?

      No. Canonical does not own Ubuntu the project they own the trademark.

      -Would it fork Ubuntu and part ways?

      Absolutely not.

      A foundation would protect the Ubuntu name, enforce the Ubuntu ethos and philosophy in the community and in the project roadmap and ensure that Canonical’s business interests did not take Ubuntu down the wrong path.

      “No, i don’t think that a foundation is the answer, this is Debian’s way.”

      Debian does not have a foundation and it does not have a single company pulling the strings so it does not need a foundation to protect its interests and community.

      “Every single upset within the Ubuntu (and FOSS in general) community would have be avoided if only there had been another way to communicate.”

      Thats the problem though Canonical has failed at communicating and despite promises at UDS to the community it has never gotten better.

      This is exactly why other projects have foundations and this is why Matt Mullenwag formed a foundation because its very difficult for a business and a open source project to coexist and for the business to respect the original vision of a project.

  3. johnyk says

    what about debian ?
    it has already a foundation,
    why another one.
    Canonical uses debians code base.
    Why to introduce another entity ?