Empowerment, Meritocracy, Giving Credit – Now What?

This one is hard, but neccessary. As I want to voice some concerns I have about the Ubuntu community and my take on the things we need to address. I tried voicing them earlier, but it was probably in the wrong forum. I think it is time to give it a go now and be constructive, rather than reactive. Thanks go to Alan Pope for raising these issues up at this week’s Community Council’s meeting and for other community members for voicing these concerns as well.


I am not sure how to define this, but I can think of basic principles in order to have individuals feeling empowered.

  • I do not believe in a top-to-bottom approach to solve problems. Solutions happen between equals.
  • The only thing theres is is people working with people. That is the only way things happen and the world changes because of that interaction.
  • Solutions originate among people. Between equals there is no top or bottom, there is only people with different degrees of responsibility and commitment to things, because of factors such as Real-Life®, work, kids, friends, etc…

Back in 2005 I felt empowered when I worked within the Ubuntu Community. Today I still feel empowered, but less so.

In my local community things are not happening. We recently lost our approved LoCo status and have an ambivalent approach to how we shall fix it. We want to, but we are not good at doing what it takes. So we are always pushing work towards an LTS cycle where we will find a silver bullet and get the wolf. And we never do… I for one do not have the drive to do it and rather find some other project to work with and have more fun. Sorry, but it is true.


This one is pretty simple: talk is cheap and everyone can do it, but in the end: The doers, decide. As they are the ones doing it.

So it is time to ask a question: Is Ubuntu still the most used distro because it is the best, or because we do not know where else to turn? Personally, the last three releases I have had a hard time recommending Ubuntu to people, because I am affraid regression will show up and things might change too much from release to release.

Do we earn the merit to still be the most used distro? Or as a friend of mine expressed: Are we building an Operative System or a group of friends? Because although they might be related, they are two totally different things (and remember, I am a marketing and sales guy saying this).

Giving Credit

Ubuntu is possible  because of the work of thousands who appreciate the work of our community, although they do not (always) participate in it directly.

We used to be good at highlighting the importance of the FLOSS ecosystem for our own existence. Nowadays people talk about Android = Linux Mobile and Ubuntu = Linux Desktop and forget about the contributions from others. And we all know there is more ot it. There GNU and a sea full of distros and conglomerations working to bring us a FLOSS ecosystem for all computing needs.

In the aim to make it simple for people to understand, we should not be reductive to the point where our principles and motivations are intangible. They must be part of the package: By heart I am as much a Debianista and Drupalista, as I am an Ubuntu member. As I am a Mandrake, Fedora, Varnish cheerleader. I care about Free and Open Source Software, because it truly shows the ability of human kind to cooperate in the most tangible way beyond borders and differences. And that is my drive, the cause if you will. My participation in Ubuntu, and other organizations, is the consequence.

So what do we do?

Nobody knows. And that is the fun part: We can be creative! 😀

One thing is certain, we will find a solution only by discussing these issues, achieving concensus and executing concrete action points.

Remember, I write this only because this is very important for me and I care. So keep that in mind if you want to comment on this post.

Thanks for reading!

~ by huayra on 2011 October 7.

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