Shuttleworth ruffles feathers with Ubuntu Linux 13.04 'Raring Ringtail' plans

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Canonical's launch on Thursday of Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal” was met with considerable jubilation from Linux fans around the world, not least because of the bold slogan that launched with it.

“Avoid the pain of Windows 8” was the text that accompanied the new Ubuntu's launch, and thousands of fans quickly made their approval apparent over the course of the day on Google+.

For many, however, jubilation turned to disappointment when that slogan was changed to, “Your wish is our command” later in the day.

Then, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced a new development approach for the upcoming Ubuntu 13.04, which has been officially named “Raring Ringtail.”

'We Won't Talk About Them'

“Mapping out the road to 13.04, there are a few items with high 'tada!' value that would be great candidates for folk who want to work on something that will get attention when unveiled,” Shuttleworth wrote in a Thursday blog post.

“While we won’t talk about them until we think they are ready to celebrate, we’re happy to engage with contributing community members that have established credibility (membership, or close to it) in Ubuntu, who want to be part of the action,” Shuttleworth added.

Bottom line: A “skunkworks” is what Shuttleworth has planned, and that's rubbed numerous Linux fans the wrong way.

'So Much for Transparency'

“Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth Tires Of Critics, Moves Key Ubuntu Developments Out Of Public Eye” was one of the first headlines to appear.

“So much for transparency,” wrote blogger Dietrich Schmitz in response on Google+.

Yet others took a different interpretation.

“This is a move to open internal Canonical development projects to members of the Ubuntu community,” explained Canonical Upstream Liaison Michael Hall in the same discussion. “Nothing that is currently open will become closed or secret (despite the article's claims). This is a move towards greater openness and community involvement, not less."

'Even More Transparent'

Hall's interpretation was echoed in a follow-up post from Shuttleworth on Friday.

“What I offered to do, yesterday, spontaneously, is to invite members of the community in to the things we are working on as personal projects, before we are ready to share them,” Shuttleworth wrote. “This would mean that there was even less of Ubuntu that was NOT shaped and polished by folk other than Canonical--a move that one would think would be well received. This would make Canonical even more transparent.”

Shuttleworth's perspective was echoed in at least two other media reports, on and ZDNet, where Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote that the move is “not a big deal.”

Openness and transparency, of course, are prominent among the advantages of Linux and open source software.

What's your view? Is it a bad thing for Ubuntu to keep some of its development indoors? Please sound off in the comments.

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