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The press will believe anything about open source

Matt Asay | June 21, 2016
A recent Canonical announcement about Linux packaging shows how the press gives a pass to open source proclamations, no matter how unbelievable

That's why Canonical's hints of broad community support for Snappy are suspect. According to Williamson, "The sum total of communication between Canonical and Fedora before ... this press release was that they mailed us asking about the process of packaging snappy for Fedora, and we told them about the main packaging process and COPR. They certainly did not in any way inform Fedora that they were going to send out a press release strongly implying that Fedora, along with every other distro in the world, was now a happy traveler on the Snappy bandwagon."

Oh, and to make matters worse, "the server end (the 'app store' bit of the equation) is closed source, and Canonical have been refusing to tell anyone how to run their own 'app store'." So, in essence, Snappy is designed to make Canonical the center of this happy new universe, with all roads (and snaps) leading to Canonical.

Is it even necessary?

Even if we discount all the self-serving PR guff that Canonical has spewed with this release, there's still an open question as to whether the effort is even worthwhile. The short answer is "probably not," as Kyle Keen of Arch Linux details.

Solving the technical problem of unifying different package management solutions isn't actually very interesting, because it completely misses the point: "Distros exist because users can't agree on how exactly we want software. A universal package will not be good enough for some percentage of them." In other words, if the distributions wanted to have everything the same, that would have already happened years ago. A common package manager isn't going to solve much of anything, particularly one so heavily controlled by one vendor.

This is an intractable problem and certainly not one that is aided by the chimera of some grand bargain between distributions about package management. Canonical has not done the hard work of resolving cultural differences between distributions, thinking that a package management is purely a technical issue. It's not, and even if it were, the company would still need to do a heck of a lot more lobbying to garner support for its approach, rather than press releases that pretend at support that doesn't actually exist.

But this isn't really Canonical's fault. It's doing what most companies do: painting a big picture and hoping enough partners/customers will believe.

No, really the problem is with a fawning tech press that accepts anything that sounds like "open source community" as gospel truth, when a more critical analysis is needed.

Source: Infoworld 


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