A number of folks at Canonical have been
writing about what we do and how our work contributes to the goal of
getting free software into the mainstream. Canonical and
Ubuntu have brought free software to the
general public in a way that hasn’t been done before, in a very short
span of time.
I’ve been working on the Landscape Team since early 2006. I was one
of the founding members of the project along with
is a web-based tool that eases the task of managing large deployments
of Ubuntu. It is one of the many services that Canonical provides, as
a value add to Ubuntu, and is proprietary software. At this point
you’re probably thinking, “How can proprietary software help the goal
of spreading free software? That’s crazy talk.” Well, in at least
Landscape makes it possible for people that could never have chosen
Ubuntu to consider it, and in many cases to adopt it. Our enterprise
customers look at Ubuntu and they like what it offers, but that’s only
the beginning of the story. Management is a big concern for
organizations that roll out tens, hundreds or thousands of Ubuntu
machines. Without a management solution, Ubuntu is a non-starter no
matter how good the user experience.
Landscape is a revenue generator for Canonical and, though we’d all
love to release it as free software, that revenue is very important.
It contributes to the sustainability of the company and thus, to the
sustainability of Ubuntu itself. We do as much work as we can in the
open. For example, Storm, an object
relational mapper for Python, was developed by the Landscape Team and
released as free software. We’ve sent patches to projects such as
txAWS and others.
Although my work may be controversial in the wider free software
community I’m a free software developer at heart. The effort I put
into Landscape is good for free software in general. It helps Ubuntu
gain adoption in places where it simply wouldn’t be considered without
a tool like Landscape. Canonical has been, and continues to be, an
amazing place to work. It is full of passionate people all doing
their part to get free software out into the world.