The last half year has been very difficult for me. I had been close to quitting my work on FLOSS several times. Last week I once again was asking myself "why am I doing that?". This of course cannot continue like that. I do like my work on KWin and KDE, I'm enjoying it. But the broader ecosystem creates an atmosphere I do not want to work in. I used this week to reflect what happened 14 days ago and also the last half year in general and what I can do about it to not be affected like that.
I had to learn that it is no longer possible to criticize Ubuntu/Canonical for their technical decisions and to disagree with them. There are many users who seem to think that Ubuntu is a religion and Canonical without fail. If you criticize technical decision you are a heretic and the holy inquisition is coming after you to burn you. Ubuntu has lost it's meaning. There is no human kindness in this community any more.
If it were just the users I would be able to tolerate it. After all those users do not use my software, so I don't have to care. But it's also Canonical. I experienced a strong constant pressure that we support Canonical's in-house solution which is completely unsuited for our needs given their provided public documentation. There were people announcing that our software will work just fine on top of their technical stack, others posted videos showing our software working somewhat on top of an (IMHO idiotic) hack. It was decided on a mailinglist I'm not subscribed to that I would walk people through the KWin code base in a telco for adjusting KWin for their technical stack. All of that without ever asking whether we are interested at all. In case of the telco I was not even asked whether I would want to participate and whether I have time for that. I experienced this as a constant pressure and a disrespect to our own decisions. It also resulted in me having again and again to contradict the claims put up by Canonical like our software would work just fine. Each time I had to do this the believers came after me to burn me.
A terrible situation. I had to ask several people at Canonical and people close to the Ubuntu community to leave us alone. This worked quite well I must admit. It seemed to have reached the right people and I think that's the best way to handle this situation. Canonical can spend their time on developing awesome software and thus proving that it's suited for us instead spending time on useless politics. I don't get demotivated by the situation and can myself spend time on hacking - after all that's what I care about.
Two weeks ago I had to learn that it didn't reach everyone. And once again I was pulled down badly, it once again affected my productivity. It's something I have never experienced before. I cannot remember that I have ever been insulted in public, in fact I'm not used to getting insulted at all. And if people normally are able to say sorry. I and many others asked Mark to withdraw his comment and post an apology instead. This hasn't happened so far and after 14 days I think it is too late.
What Mark wrote has terrible consequences. Mark is the sabdfl of the Ubuntu community. What he writes is law. If Mark isn't bound to the code of conduct, nobody is. How should a technical discussion be possible in future, if you have to fear the wrath of Mark and his legions of believers in case you disagree? This is creating an atmosphere of fear which is poison for any collaboration. After what happened I have to think that the experience I had to go through is tolerated by Canonical and even wished for. It's fine to go after people disagreeing.
And it's not just the fact that Mark didn't apologize. It's also that the Ubuntu community did not stand up against it. Whenever I write something criticizing Canonical here on Google+, Canonical employees comment on the posts. Where are their posts criticizing Mark, pointing out that it destroys collaboration? Why has there not been one blog post on planet Ubuntu stating that they disagree? By not disagreeing I have to assume that people inside Canonical think the same. I do not see how I am supposed to collaborate with someone who I have to believe thinks of me as an outraged individual.
I thought about how I personally can protect me against this happening ever again. I don't want to have to quit my work on KWin just because Mark thinks it's fine to go after me for not wanting to support their in-house solution. I decided that the only way is to remove myself completely from the Ubuntu community and not to interact in any way with it. From now on I will act as if Ubuntu doesn't exist any more. I started to remove people from my Google+ circles, I unsubscribed myself from all bug reports on Launchpad, I decided to quit my work in the largest German Ubuntu support forum which really hurts given that it was the first FLOSS community I became a member of. I will reduce my interaction with the Ubuntu community to the bare minimum I have to do to support Kubuntu as part of my job. In future I will not reply to Canonical employees commenting on my posts. Comments on my blog will be deleted. Mails will be ignored. If there are discussions about adopting technology from Canonical I will point out that one cannot collaborate and we shouldn't use it because it's from Canonical. Over the last months I restrained myself from commenting on topics like Ubuntu Edge because I thought it could harm Canonical. In future I won't care. If I think the course of actions is wrong, I will point it out.
So far I always pointed out that I do not hate Canonical and that there are no political reasons. I'm not sure that I can say this again, after what happened. In future I will certainly dismiss technologies for political reasons, because it's from Canonical and I do not care anymore whether Canonical succeeds or fails.
It is up to the Ubuntu community and the people working inside Canonical to fix the situation. Make clear that you want to collaborate, make clear that it's not acceptable to attack people for disagreeing. I wish Ubuntu all the luck to fix the problem and I do hope that they will be able to do so. Ubuntu people: wake-up. Realize that a schism is created between Ubuntu and the rest of the FLOSS communities. Realize that Ubuntu makes it impossible to collaborate, it's dangerous to even try to collaborate. Wake up people and fix it.
Good Bye, Ubuntu