[PCBSD-malaysia] Fwd: [PC-BSD Testing] Canonical's new COO gets religion on Linux desktop

Ahmad Arafat Abdullah trunasuci at gmail.com
Tue Mar 16 19:49:58 PDT 2010


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jeff <dejamuse at yahoo.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 10:45 AM
Subject: [PC-BSD Testing] Canonical's new COO gets religion on Linux desktop
To: testing at lists.pcbsd.org


   Canonical's new COO gets religion on Linux desktop
By Ryan Paul <http://arstechnica.com/author/ryan-paul/> | Ars Technica

 Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, is
undergoing significant
changes<http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/12/mark-shuttleworth-changing-roles-at-canonical.ars>in
management. Founder Mark Shuttleworth has stepped down from his role
as
the CEO so that he can increase his involvement in the software design and
development process. Jane Silber, who has long served as the company's chief
operating officer, will be taking over as CEO. To fill the COO vacancy left
by Silber's ascension, Canonical has recruited Matt Asay, the former vice
president of business development at open source content management software
company Alfresco.


Asay seems like a good choice for Canonical in some key ways. He accumulated
knowledge of the enterprise Linux ecosystem during his time at Novell and he
brings a wealth of real-world expertise in monetizing open source software
from his experiences at Alfresco. Despite these strong points in his favor,
there are also some reasons why he is a surprising choice for Canonical. In
particular, Asay has always been an extremely vocal skeptic of Linux's
viability on the desktop. During the month that he has been working for
Canonical, his views on the matter seem to have evolved considerably.


Asay's opinions about Linux and open source software are well known because
he writes a blog at
CNET<http://news.cnet.com/openroad/?tag=rb_content;overviewHead>.
He has consistently been supportive of Ubuntu's vision and identified it in
2007 as Linux's best chance for desktop success. Despite his enthusiasm
about Ubuntu's commitment to usability, he doubted its potential to make a
real impact.


"I will admit to being a Linux desktop nonbeliever. It feels a bit like
yesterday's battle fought with the wrong weapons: geekiness rather than ease
of use. There's a chance—still a slim one, but a chance nonetheless—that
Ubuntu will change that," he wrote in
2007<http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-9799636-16.html>
.


In a more strongly-worded piece a year later, he declared that Linux on the
desktop was a lost cause. He thought that Ubuntu might have a chance on
netbooks, but argued that the real opportunities for open source are in the
cloud.


"I am an ardent open-source advocate, but I admit to perplexity as to why
the Linux community so desperately wants its year on local systems. Who
cares?" he wrote in 2008<http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10126080-16.html>.
"It's time to move on. Next year won't be the year of the Linux desktop
anymore than 2010 will be. Why? Because we don't need a Linux desktop. We
need to accelerate efforts toward the cloud, which is open source's game to
lose."


A short time after he joined Canonical, he had a revelation. In a complete
reversal of his previous position, he boldly
declared<http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10455816-16.html>that the
year of the Linux desktop isn't just imminent, but has already
arrived. He came to this new conclusion about desktop Linux after spending a
few days running Ubuntu. Yes, all it took to convince Asay of Ubuntu's
viability was actual hands-on experience with the software. A dedicated Mac
user since 2002, he apparently never bothered to seriously test a Linux
desktop distro until after he joined Canonical.


"In my new role at Canonical, I've switched to using Ubuntu on my Lenovo
ThinkPad X200s and have found Linux comfortably routine. Like my Mac, it
just works—no drama with day-to-day Internet activities like e-mail, Web
browsing, IM, Twitter. It lets me do all the things I used to do, and still
largely with the same applications I used on my Mac," he wrote recently.
"The desktop battle is largely over for Linux. There's really no reason not
to use it, other than habit."


In an interview<http://www.linux.com/news/featured-blogs/185-jennifer-cloer/293844-qa-with-matt-asay-how-linux-is-beating-apple-and-much-more->with
the Linux Foundation that was published yesterday, he elaborated on
some of his new opinions. Pointing to the strength of Linux in the mobile
and embedded markets and Ubuntu's improvements to Linux usability, Asay said
in the interview that Linux has an opportunity to surpass rival Apple.


"Apple leads in some areas, but I think if we were to tally up its total
record against Linux, and not simply in the narrow categories it chooses to
target, we'd see the balance weigh heavily in Linux' favor," he said.


The mixed messages and conveniently sudden transformation into a true
believer could raise some serious questions about his credibility. I happen
to think that his reversal of opinion is genuine (he wouldn't have joined
Canonical if he thought it was doomed), but he seems to be overcompensating
a bit in his newfound enthusiasm for desktop Linux. It could be problematic
because he risks making his endorsement of the platform sound insincere.

It's going to take him a while to earn the trust of the Ubuntu community.
Practically all of Canonical's previous and ongoing efforts to monetize the
distro have been met with a certain degree of concern by some users and
contributors. The volunteers who have helped to make Ubuntu a success are
wary of being exploited and are slow to accept Canonical's monetization
strategies.


As the COO, Asay will play an important role in making Ubuntu become
commercially successful. If the community is distrustful of Asay's
motivations and agenda, it could exacerbate the friction that arises when
Canonical seeks new revenue streams to make Ubuntu sustainable. He needs to
prove to the Ubuntu community that he truly cares about Linux on the desktop
and is not just out to make a quick buck. His previously dismissive attitude
about the relevance of desktop Linux is obviously not particularly conducive
to that. It's not an insurmountable obstacle, however.


Although Asay's views about the Linux desktop have a clear continuity
problem, it's important to acknowledge that his position about open source
business opportunities has largely been consistent. He has always been a
strong proponent of seeking success in the cloud. This is a strategy that
Canonical is already starting to embrace: over the past year, we have seen
the company place an increasingly strong emphasis on the cloud in its
commercial offerings. The Ubuntu One service is emblematic of that shift.


He doesn't know much about the Linux desktop, but Asay is well-equipped to
help guide Canonical's cloud strategy and turn it into a successful business
that will sustain the company as it pursues its desktop ambitions.


*Update:* Matt Asay has posted a
response<http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2010/03/canonicals-new-coo-gets-religion-on-linux-desktop.ars?comments=1#comment-13555>in
the discussion thread.



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-- 
# uname -a
NetBSD  5.0 NetBSD 5.0 (GENERIC) #0: Sun Apr 26 18:50:08 UTC 2009
 builds at b6.netbsd.org:/home/builds/ab/netbsd-5-0-RELEASE/i386/200904260229Z-obj/home/builds/ab/netbsd-5-0-RELEASE/src/sys/arch/i386/compile/GENERIC
i386
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