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First GNOME Census Results 175

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-in-the-constitution dept.
supersloshy writes "The GNOME Census, a project to see who contributes to GNOME and how, has released its first set of results. The results group people by their reasons to contribute code, what they contributed code to, and what percentage of the total contributions they have. For example, 23.45% of code contributions were volunteer, 16.3% of code contributions came from Red Hat, 1% of contributions came from Canonical (which has caused a lot of controversy), and 0.24% came from Mozilla Corporation. The census results are also represented in diagrams (release activity, why contributions were made, and what was contributed to and by who). The report is also available here and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license."
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First GNOME Census Results

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  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:23AM (#33100138)

    If the linked post is an accurate overview, at least, it looks like Red Hat is doing a lot more contributing to GNOME's core, while Canonical is doing a lot more building of apps, widgets, and other miscellaneous desktop stuff on top of GNOME. Both seem like reasonable things for an open-source company to contribute. Linux desktop environments need more hacking on the core, and need more interesting things built on top of that core too.

    • If you look at the maintainance map [neary-consulting.com], you can see that Redhat is relavant in several areas, but most of it is volunteer. Canonical is not so relevant here (except for the default theme and the calculator -- lol).

      Imagine your company was structured like that. Or that you'd have to sell this plan to your stakeholders. :) But it works!

    • 1) Red Hat fans quote unfair (because they do not take stuff that is not accepted upstream, but may still be used by other distros into account, do not adjust for the fact that Red Hat has been around longer, only look at code contributions, not marketing or UI research etc.) numbers to try and prove that Ubuntu does not make a fair contribution to Linux development.

      2) Mark Shuttleworth responds with a blog post in which he spins like a politician, fails to answer the questions directly, and accuses the cri

  • Half the story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThoughtMonster (1602047) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:30AM (#33100158) Homepage

    The census is correct in implying that Canonical has not as many modules in upstream GNOME repositories, however that is only half the story. The census counts all commits since the beginning of the project, so Red Hat has a 6-year head start. Not to mention that Red Hat is a much bigger company than Canonical.

    Canonical provides a lot of things of value to GNOME and the free software community in general. The (recently established) Canonical Design Team produces research [canonical.com] on software usability, the value of which is not easily quantifiable. Many pieces of GNOME software live on Launchpad and are not strictly part of GNOME upstream (Simple Scan, for instance). This might change if (or when) these modules are accepted in GNOME proper.

    To claim that Canonical is freeloading on other companies' contributions is a bit of myopic, in my opinion. How many upstream bug reports came from Ubuntu users?

    • Re:Half the story (Score:5, Insightful)

      by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:46AM (#33100214) Homepage Journal

      To claim that Canonical is freeloading on other companies' contributions is a bit of myopic, in my opinion. How many upstream bug reports came from Ubuntu users?

      Too many, we marked them as dup. But your point is invalid since Canonical != Ubuntu users and Canonical != Ubuntu maintainers. Latter are all in the volunteer camp. Red Hat users & maintainers are probably largely there too.

      The way I see it Ubuntu is mainly a packager (distribution) and behaves like one. They mainly configure, build and distribute the existing software. Of course they provide patches for bugs they encounter, and they send it upstream to reduce their own work.

      But Canonical doesn't have the means and will to truly commit developer resources to Linux (like Red Hat does). They want to achieve something with what is there*, and they are very good at communicating, community-building, reacting to users, connecting users and developers. That is Ubuntu's value.
      Red Hat has some of this too, but for them it is business to engineer a Linux that works, because that is what they sell.

      *Greg Kroah Hartman complained Ubuntu doesn't give patches upstream.

      • Re:Half the story (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ThoughtMonster (1602047) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @05:20AM (#33100284) Homepage

        ... But your point is invalid since Canonical != Ubuntu users and Canonical != Ubuntu maintainers. Latter are all in the volunteer camp. ...

        I disagree. In principle, you are correct, Canonical, as a company, has nothing to do with me, as a user, filing a bug report on some piece of software. However, how many of these bug reports would exist in the first place if not for Ubuntu, for which Canonical is largely (if not wholly) responsible? Something about eyeballs and shallow bugs.

        For me, Canonical succeeded where most other companies did not, in marketing Linux and GNOME as user-friendly solutions, which in turn, I believe, will draw developers to produce more software for Linux.

        Whilst this is, in part, due to the relative maturity of both products, for which Red Hat is largely responsible, I believe that GNOME benefits greatly from Canonical's approach towards user-friendliness as much as Canonical benefits from the infrastructure on which they base their products. Canonical has produced great software (like Upstart) which may not be obvious.

        • I don't have mod points today, unfortunately. After reading every comment on this story, I would certainly mod the parent up! The last paragraph in particular succinctly sums it all.

      • Re:Half the story (Score:4, Informative)

        by houghi (78078) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @05:46AM (#33100344)

        Greg Kroah Hartman complained Ubuntu doesn't give patches upstream.

        http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3385088017824733336#
        Keynote address by Greg K-H given during the inaugural Linux Plumbers Conference Sept 17, 2008 in Portland, OR.

    • Freeloaders = good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @05:01AM (#33100246) Homepage

      To claim that Canonical is freeloading on other companies' contributions is a bit of myopic, in my opinion.

      'Freeloading' often has a negative meaning, but in open source land the opposite is true IMHO. Any additional user helps to improve the software just by using it:

      • Increased user base means increased market share, bringing open source software closer to the point where companies take Linux support more serious for their products, governments may take a 2nd look at their open source use & support for open standards, websites are checked more often in alternative (read: non-IE) browsers, etc, etc.
      • More users = more testers, more bug reports etc. This ultimately helps the software quality, if more bugs are found (& hopefully, fixed).
      • More users = (over time) more experienced users, that can help newcomers get started.

      So regardless of who deserves credits, that's many networks effects that benefit all users of such software, Gnome included. Freeriding on that is about as harmful as watching new years' fireworks without lighting any of your own - you still contribute to the party, just by being there. And in that sense, Canonical has done a lot to support Linux - by attracting & supporting many new users.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by noidentity (188756)
        This isn't even freeloading, because it doesn't put any load on a project to use a copy of its source code. This isn't something physical where it's limited.
        • by crush (19364)
          Sure it is. Community and users are a resource. They can an asset to either a succesful company (Red Hat) which has a consistent, strong track record of contributing vast amounts of Free Software to every part of the stack (from kernel on up to network and sound management, to the desktop and free fonts) OR they can be expended by a (so far) commercially unsuccesful hobby company (Canonical) which is devoted to recouping Mark Shuttleworth's lost millions and has so far failed to contribute anything of no
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Your later two points depend entirely on the users actively helping. Most users will not file bug reports (merely complain, and usually somewhere where it doesn't matter) and will not help others.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Group XVII (1714286)
        Your argument made me feel nostalgic for the days when using Linux meant testing software and filing bug reports. Now I use Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu) and that world is forever lost to me. I am hooked on freeloading. Everything just works and I just let it.
    • Re:Half the story (Score:4, Insightful)

      by crush (19364) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @06:41AM (#33100450)

      Many pieces of GNOME software live on Launchpad and are not strictly part of GNOME upstream (Simple Scan, for instance).

      That's the problem: Canonical is not doing the hard work to get what little they do write upstream. Stuff that is not upstream is just balkanized, fractured, non-maintainable code. It doesn't provide any benefit to the rest of the GNU/Linux community, i.e. the people that write all the rest of the code and upstream it so that Canonical can exist in the first place. Usability research is useful, but when I click your link I see one study (on Empathy) and further clicking around on the Canonical Design team site reveals [canonical.com] that, as so much of Canonical appears to be, it's all about marketing. Seriously: ONE study and then three guides devoted to "guidelines to support the brand documentation and help create consistent brand usage."?

    • by Risen888 (306092)

      Canonical provides a lot of things of value to GNOME and the free software community in general. The (recently established) Canonical Design Team produces research [canonical.com] on software usability, the value of which is not easily quantifiable. Many pieces of GNOME software live on Launchpad and are not strictly part of GNOME upstream (Simple Scan, for instance). This might change if (or when) these modules are accepted in GNOME proper.

      The point flew right by you there and you completely missed it. Wh

  • Apples and Oranges (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WarJolt (990309) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:31AM (#33100162)

    Redhat is publicly traded, has over 9 times as many employees as canonical and actually makes a lot more money then Canonical.
    Quit picking on the small fry. Ubuntu contributes enough.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JonJ (907502)
      The Ubuntu fanboys enjoy ripping on Red Hat for not contributing to the desktop, and for being a boring company focusing only on the serverside of things. Seems like that position is bullshit. People are also claiming that Red Hat doesn't care about the desktop, which this proves is also pure crap. For the people positioning Ubuntu as the desktop champion of GNU/Linux they're not contributing anywhere. Not the kernel, not GNOME, no where are they contributing a significant amount of patches. And all the apo
      • by arose (644256) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:16AM (#33100954)
        Is this over the lifetime of Gnome or that of Canonical. If it's the former, then your argument doesn't hold water. Yay for statistics without methodology!
    • by MSG (12810)

      I suspect that non-Ubuntu users will stop "picking on" Canonical for contributing so little when Canonical and Ubuntu users stop crowing about how much Canonical and Ubuntu contribute.

  • Languages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:36AM (#33100186) Journal

    One interesting observation about the contributions on language bindings: Obviously volunteers are mostly into scripting languages (Python, Perl), while each compiled language is dominated by a single company (C++ by Openismus, Java by Operation dynamics, and C# by Novell).

  • by eddy_crim (216272) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @05:06AM (#33100254) Homepage

    Canonical's code contribution is irrelevant. What open source has always needed is some polish and some marketing. Thats what canonical provide, they polished and marketed (to an extent) a decent distro. OSS has never been short of decent code and quality software engineering. Canonical are providing a great link in the value chain of linux and as long as the basic prinicipals are upheld im all for it!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      take a look at various start pages of linux distributions. guess where you won't find the word "linux" even mentioned...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        Debian GNU/Linux is a free distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system. It is maintained and updated through the work of many users who (...)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And this is exactly why it works. Do you see Google marketing Android as Linux based? Certainly not anywhere outside of it's dev community.

        Linux, believe it or not, has a bit of a scary co-notation with the general public. Sure, it has come a long way from being called "for hackers only", but it's not there yet. Calling it Ubuntu and dropping the Linux reference is a GREAT idea. I would recommend it to anyone starting a new distro.

        Cocoa-based-candy may sound great to you, but I'll just have my Chocolate tha

  • by mattbee (17533) <matthew@bytemark.co.uk> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @05:25AM (#33100292) Homepage

    When it comes to bugs and usability problems, Ubuntu run a much sharper bug tracker - it usually has coverage of almost any minor GNOME issue. Between Canonical and their users, It might have taken many man-hours to track down, discuss and identify a small usability bug, which might only result in a fix of a few lines of code. It's not about turning the screw, it's knowing which screw to turn [tumblr.com]. So counting lines of code as the only contribution is completely unfair to Canonical.

    This doesn't just go for GNOME; the best discussion of kernel and firefox bugs usually ends up being hosted on Ubuntu, just because they have fostered the largest community of enthusiastic Linux desktop users.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bsDaemon (87307)

      Really? Because all I've ever seen while browsing Ubuntu forums is someone posting a problem, followed by 12 pages of people going "me too!" and a few "so, does anyone know how to fix this yet?" It's the AOL of linux distributions. And its not like I haven't tried Ubuntu before. The problems that I've run into with it generally require me to step outside of the approved Ubuntu point-and-click way of doing things and edit config files by hand. Nothing is where it should be, and often my manual changes g

    • by Risen888 (306092)

      This doesn't just go for GNOME; the best discussion of kernel and firefox bugs usually ends up being hosted on Ubuntu, just because they have fostered the largest community of enthusiastic Linux desktop users.

      And that's a huge problem, because it tends to stay there. It's awfully hard to make the argument that it's helpful to upstream to explicitly tell your users "Use our bugtracker," and then fail to kick that upstream. Launchpad's an echo chamber.

  • by onion2k (203094) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @05:38AM (#33100324) Homepage

    If you want to get paid for what you do then charge for it. I don't mean money necessarily. There are lots of ways of getting paid. But charge something.

    In this case the reciprocal amount of work people are demanding from Canonical is a form of payment. If you want to claim it's not "fair" that one company is doing more for a project than another you've got to set up the system to stop them, otherwise you have no grounds for your complaint. You can't set up a stall with a big sign saying "Free, please take what you want, no need to give anything back in return" and then moan when someone takes you up on your offer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blackest_k (761565)

      I wasn't going to post but maybe this is the reason for the tribal comments.
      There is no value in measuring contributions by various sections of the linux community commercial or others.

      Red hat makes valuable contributions so does Cannonical, so do many other companies other than SCO i think we can agree on that. I have a bias towards ubuntu it works on my systems and i am familiar with it. However i don't think the sun shines out of cannonicals arse , that now belongs to oracle.

      but seriously measuring cont

      • by crush (19364)

        but seriously measuring contributions made by other people is divisive and unnecessary. I've contributed in a few area's and just helping newbies is a contribution that most can make. The size of the contribution doesn't matter. Redhat is commercially successful and turns a profit mark shuttleworth pumps money into Linux via ubuntu and the parent seems to say that isn't good enough do more.

        Measuring contributions is a useful way to see what is an efficient way of generating Free Software vis a vis differe

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2010 @05:55AM (#33100356)

    The reason why RedHat's piece of GNOME commits is so big is because they have been rejecting modules developed by competing companies. Novell made a push to get their start menu included in GNOME, it was rejected by the RedHat majority. Same thing with Compiz, a compositing window manager developed by David Reeveman of Novell, also rejected despite it being an almost complete drop in replacement for Metacity which is ancient RedHat technology. He also worked on bringing OpenGL into xorg and had a working prototype for how to do it. Also rejected because RedHat favored a different approach by writing AIGLX [wikipedia.org]. The reason why Novell doesn't have a large stake in GNOME's codebase is certainly not for a lack of trying. There are dozen more modules that have been rejected over the years. What they all have in common is that RedHat employers aren't working on them.

    Then check what modules have had no problem getting included: PulseAudio, Clutter, DeviceKit, Cheese, gnome-user-share... All created by RedHat employers. Basically, when it comes to the core of GNOME's infrastructure, RedHat has been very effective in keeping outsiders out.

    • by PixelSlut (620954)
      Clutter was not created by Red Hat employees, it was created by what are now Intel employees. They were previously a small company called OpenedHand and they were bought by Intel.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bazer (760541)
      Let's recap what both companies contributed:
      • Novell: Compiz, XGL (unmaintaned X server with OpenGL)
      • Red Hat: PulseAudio, Clutter, DeviceKit, Cheese, gnome-user-share

      Notice something about the scopes of each of those projects?

      Same thing with Compiz, a compositing window manager developed by David Reeveman of Novell, also rejected despite it being an almost complete drop in replacement for Metacity which is ancient RedHat technology.

      Metacity ancient? What do you make of the whole X server then? Should we replace it too? Don't get me wrong. I don't dismiss Compiz as eye-candy because it's far more than that. It came way to early. It was unusable without proprietary drivers and unstable with. To this day Compiz has p

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Notice something about the scopes of each of those projects?

        I notice that Clutter is an intel project. I notice that Cheese is crashy and slow. I notice that Xgl died in favor of a solution which still isn't here, and that more of the system was composited when we had it. In fact, I notice that Compiz window effects (since you bring it up) worked probably three times faster/smoother under Xgl than they do under the modern AIGLX desktop.

        Metacity ancient? What do you make of the whole X server then? Should we replace it too?

        Large parts of it have been replaced already. Xgl provided DRAMATIC performance improvements, I know, because I've actually run it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Novells menu for GNOME is crap! I just used it again on my mothers Netbook and you actually can not use it at all. When ever you want to launch a not-so-often-used application program. It is faster to launch gnome-terminal and start it from there than go "all programs" -list.
      The "favorites" is such that you have difficulties to get it ordered as you want. Or to get all wanted favorites there but still keep the most used list big enough, even with 1920x1200 resolution. KickOff is much better what Novell did

    • I don't think all your examples are good and I believe there is some mis-attribution in there as well. Let's start with the ones that might support your argument. PulseAudio (Lennart Poettering), DeviceKit (David Zeuthen) and gnome-user-share (Alexander Larsson and Bastien Nocera) were all created by Red Hat employees. I would argue that neither Xorg/X, DeviceKit or PulseAudio are part of GNOME even though it runs on top of them. They are really Linux desktop infrastructure and someone's got to develop that

  • Open source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nxsty (942984) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @07:23AM (#33100582)
    Greg DeKoenigsberg, an ex-Red Hat employee wrote a blog post slamming Canonical for the "absolutely egregious" statistic and suggesting that Canonical has been "riding on Red Hat's coattails for years." Tough shit. This is open source, if you don't like others using your work you should develop proprietary software instead.
    • by arose (644256)

      Not to mention that Red Hat has been riding on volunteer coattails for all of their existence by this logic. Hell, look at Fedora, it's volunteer packaging and testing for Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

      If you want to pick on Canonical for something, pick on something that isn't an integral part of GNU/Linux distros.

    • But all that copying of the same bits, that puts a huge stress on them (especially the 1s). The bits that make up this open-source software could fail at any time, due to everyone using them. Think of the bits!
    • by MSG (12810)

      No one is complaining that Canonical uses Red Hat's work in their product. One developer is merely troubled that Canonical gets more recognition than they deserve, given their meager contributions to the GNU/Linux software ecosystem.

  • by Artifex (18308) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @08:16AM (#33100742) Journal

    You can commit on simple edits (like a ui typo change), or on adding a whole new chunk of code.
    And, if you're busy, you might make both an edit and the addition in the same commit.

    Is someone who makes five typo change commits doing five times the work of someone adding one with a new function?
    I seriously doubt it.

  • Suse Linux's default dextop is (a very nice) KDE. Why the heck to they spend so many resources on Gnome?

  • One of the articles talks about Red Hat's claim that Ubuntu "has been riding their coattails for years."

    I wonder how they feel about CentOS...

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @10:04AM (#33101144) Journal

    As a user, I don't care in the slightest who committed more patches, or lines of code.

    What I do care about is how easy and convenient it is to use a particular distro. And there Ubuntu offers a lot. Try to play an MP3 file? Fail on Fedora out of the box; with Ubuntu, you get a dialog asking you if it's okay to download the codec - a single click, a brief wait, and it Just Works.

    Or take drivers. As soon as it boots, Ubuntu prompts me to let it install proprietary NVidia drivers. A single click, and I have a 3D enabled system which actually works and has performance decent enough for gaming. Fedora? Either join the bug hunt with noveau, or search for a 3rd-party repository providing what you want.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, Free Software is supposed to good for your karma, and friends don't let friends use proprietary crap. And Red Hat are your friends, right?..

    ... does anyone actually care?

    Well, I guess some people do, and those people stick to Fedora. Judging by the amount of users it has compared to Ubuntu (and other distros who don't shove "FOSS only" into their users' throats), it's not as popular as some people would like it to be.

    The linked blog post by an ex-RedHatter is dripping with venom over how Ubuntu "beats everyone at marketing", but totally misses the point. Ubuntu beats everyone at convenience and "just working" first and foremost; marketing is just icing on that cake. You want to make a principled stand over FOSS? Fine, but then don't complain when users flock elsewhere!

    • As a user, I don't care in the slightest who committed more patches, or lines of code.

      ... does anyone actually care?

      Actually, you should care. Just as you should care where and how your cheap shoes were made and what ingredients went into that chicken nugget you ate.

      Your only power as a consumer is that of choice, and by being uninformed you cant make a more meaningful choice than 'this one looks pretty and is the cheapest'.

      By being even slightly informed consumers *might* stop buying drm enabled music, they *might* by more ecologically sustainable products and *might* start to realise that the reason why they cant get

      • I am perfectly well informed about what FOSS and its philosophy is, what the implications are, etc. As a programmer, I see some relevance in it, but even then I also see that its applicability is rather narrow. As a user, it really concerns me very little in practice. It's not the only solution to DRM, for example, and even then I do not find all DRM to be worth fighting (over a hundred games in my Steam account and still buying more, for example...).

        Childish stuff like this [windows7sins.org] does not help at all, by the way

  • More numbers (Score:2, Informative)

    by OneAhead (1495535)

    Here's the original presentation of the gnome census. Most of the numbers discussed here come from slide 16 and 18.
    http://www.slideshare.net/nearyd/gnome-census [slideshare.net]

    I also don't agree with the claim that only 23.45% of contributions come from volunteers. There is also the 16.94% "unknown". Now, if you're working on Gnome for a company, you usually would want to list your affiliation. If you don't, maybe you're contributing to Gnome on company time without your bosses knowing, but such a situation should (arguabl

  • by kbahey (102895) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @12:23PM (#33101878) Homepage

    I find it ironic that Redhat are the ones complaining about Ubuntu, while it was Redhat who exited the desktop market years ago, focusing on the server side of things. This void that was created was filled by Ubuntu, and it has become successful. Fedora is not quite the same, since it is bleeding edge, with not stable releases.

    Ubuntu's success is well deserved. They fill a much needed part in the Linux arena.

    Counting patches from before Canonical existed is inaccurate and biased. And patches are not the only measure. There is packages, polish, community building and marketing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Arimus (198136)

      WTF?

      RHEL has a workstation and server variant amongst the mirad of options, Redhat still provide alot of support to Fedora's efforts.

  • Interesting - I thought they only lived in gardens and TV commercials.
  • There are almost thirty thousand packages available from Canonical's repositories. Assembling a coherent, working Linux distribution from a selection of available packages is, in itself, a massive work of engineering. Given that Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution for desktops, there's a strong case that they've designed the best available distribution for that niche.

    If Canonical had contributed no software at all to GNOME, they would still be making a significant contribution to the free software ecosystem.

  • Even if Canonical would contribute no code at all, they contribute something that has been traditionally painfully missing from Linux: marketing and PR. The number of GNOME *users* contributed by Canonical by far outweighs the lack of missing code lines.

    It would be nice if people would think a bit less about ego and a bit more about the overall success of Linux, whatever flavor of Linux it may be.

    Ubuntu is just great to get people interested and hooked on Linux.

Nothing will dispel enthusiasm like a small admission fee. -- Kim Hubbard

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