Mark Shuttleworth is probably the worst project manager I know.

This quick quip is in response to an article over on PC Pro UK that interviewed Shuttleworth.  For more on that story, click on over to read what he had to say:

So you may or may not know who I’m talking about so let me fill you in a little.  Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of the company Canonical which is who funds the modern day “Ubuntu” Linux operating system.  Their premise is simple:  Make an operating system by the people, for the people that is easy to use.  Sounds good on paper right?  Well, things have gone terribly wrong for the Linux distribution known as “Ubuntu” in the past few years and here is why.

  1. Ubuntu has become political.  If you’re unfamiliar with Linux then you wouldn’t know that there are literally thousands of variants you can download and install.  Of all of those variants, each has their own agenda.  Prior to Ubuntu version 10, There was no (seemingly) apparent political agenda of Ubuntu.  It was a happy go lucky OS that was making great strides in being the best OS that was free to use.  Now, we have new user interfaces, new distribution channels for support, new backend code that is changing default behavior… basically the 10 plagues of Canonical that their end users are having to deal with.
  2. There is very little value-add to their effort.  Back in Ubuntu 11.x they changed to a new interface called “Unity”.  If you want to, go google how many people hate it and how many people love it.  You’ll see the former represented more than the latter;  And in some twisted effort, the latter are now evangelists about the product on behalf of Canonical!  Linux is an evolving beast that develops slowly over time, not by leaps and bounds like they are trying to accomplish.
  3. People have spoken and they are leaving Ubuntu in droves. While this isn’t a doom and gloom article over the total state of Ubuntu, it is a reality that if Canonical doesn’t wake up here soon, they may find their party base either completely unhappy or non-existent.

What is ironic to me at least is I started my Linux “hacking chops” on Ubuntu almost 2 1/2 years ago.  Since then I have moved on to Red Hat, CentOS and pretty much everything else in this world that is stable.  Every now and then I’ll dabble with the new Linux distro’s out there, but rarely do I find the time.  In the Linux world, there is an increased expectation of end users and “Leet” users that in some part of their core, expect things to just work how they should be known to work.  Ubuntu unfortunately is not helping with that expectation and they are hurting the distribution in the process.  In regards to Shuttleworth managing this project, he’s flopping all over the place.  Things are dealt with almost in spite (read that as anger) because someone makes an off-handed comment on the development process, suggestions get shot down because they don’t fit the core vision of where Mark wants to take Ubuntu.  Lastly, his stubborness is what is hurting Ubuntu.  As a good project manager, you have to listen to the changing wind and be mindful of your constraints.  Unfortunately for us all, he doesn’t seem to want to pay attention and for that, Ubuntu has become a lesser Linux distribution because of it.

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