The Mir “Hate-Fest” Revisited – Linux Liaison

The Mir “Hate-Fest” Revisited


I have to admit, I’m surprised. I’m not surprised because of the things that were said, however. I’m surprised at myself for taking such a negative stance on Mark Shuttleworth and his opinion. While I’m sure that Mark is sleeping fine and dandy tonight and isn’t worrying about what I said about him, at the same time I feel ashamed for saying the things I wrote.

I didn’t originally intend to push out my opinions the way I did, but I had fallen into the trap of how appealing controversy can be and I let myself sink down to the level of troll (although some may qualify me as a whiny 5 year-old instead).

What I originally intended to write follows:

Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth, and the open-source community have been working on Mir for quite a while, 6 years in fact. In this case, I can understand how hard it is for Mark Shuttleworth to abandon such a project that’s been a major part of his life for even longer. During the consideration of this pain, I’ve come to realize why Mark Shuttleworth would make such a negative comment about the community he’s spent so long trying to gain full approval from, never getting that satisfaction.

But I digress. Mark begins with praise for Mir in the IoT sector which is understandable, considering that Mir was built with Ubuntu Core in mind. I personally don’t own any IoT devices but I imagine if Mir’s made it this far, that it must be a pretty good piece of software.

As I continued to read Mark’s comment, I was a little irked, initially, was when he writes that “smart people” love Mir for the specific reasons he mentions. Of course, I might be being a little nitpicky but this part strikes me as a small bit pompous. The being said, we all can all get a little overzealous sometimes, though, so I can understand where he’s coming from. For all I know, it could have simply been a ‘slip of the tongue’.

The whole Mir hate-fest boggled my mind – it’s free software that does something invisible really well. It became a political topic […] where being on one side or the other was a sign of tribal allegiance. We have a problem in the community when people choose to hate free software instead of loving that someone cares enough to take their life’s work and make it freely available.

I did see quite a bit of this in some of the forums and IRC chats but I wouldn’t agree that it was a hate-fest. Perhaps from Mark’s position, that’s what it seemed like.

It’d be hardly a stretch to believe that more negativity was brought to Mark’s attention because more people are likely to complain about Mir when it’s not functioning than to compliment Mir when it is. Like Mark says, “[Mir] does something invisible really well,” and when something invisible is working you don’t even realize that it’s there.

The last part of the comment that seemed really unfair was to accuse, “many members of the free software community [of being] deeply anti-social types who love to hate on whatever is mainstream,” basically calling the FLOSS community ‘a bunch of hipsters’.

I think the issue runs deeper, however, than just what is considered mainstream. I think it’s more of a disdain for what is perceived as large corporations. When we look at companies like Apple and Microsoft, it’s not difficult to personify them as large ugly monsters. They fully control the user’s experience and what can be done with the computer.

Personally, it felt like Unity/Mir did that as well. There was much less customizability in Unity (from the last time I tried it) compared to GNOME. It felt like Unity was much more closed off and that tweaking this or that option would make Unity freak out before crashing and forcing you to resort to whatever fallback of the time was.

Maybe I still have a sour taste in my mouth from the last time I played around with Unity but I truly believe that Canonical was smart to detach themselves from it and go back to more earthy roots.

Who knows, maybe Mir/Unity will achieve higher heights than Mark ever imagined now that the torch has been handed off to the next person.


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4 Comments Posted

  1. I agree with Mark. A lot of people in the Linux community love to hate on things and some distro hop to the most obscure distro and have no technical skills past installing a distro and compiling software from source. Not that that is inherently bad, but that doesn’t make you an expert(hipster) that has a fine vintage beanie cap falling off your head. The real problem is people didn’t back their projects. The community turned on Canonical and did so many times and clung to their hipster fringe love affairs. Unity 7 is pretty good and damn solid. Unity 8 is sexy and modern and had an amazing vision that I don’t think people realize just how powerful it is especially considering Linux can now run Android applications easily. Ubuntu Touch is super important. I hate the elitism in some members of the community and I for one will be donating to further Unity 8/Yunit in the future. Even if Mir is considered unsuccessful by most I have no doubt the development of Mir pushed Wayland development further faster. Global menu rocks by the way.

    • You touch on exactly the point I was trying to get across. It wasn’t a hate-fest towards the individual projects, it was a general wave of negativity that began to be associated with Canonical during a movement that was inspired by the massive shift that was GNOME=>Unity. It was almost as if the community had never forgiven Canonical for that move.

      But it’s funny how now that Mark is being more vocal and people are realizing that Mark was emotionally attached to Unity et al., more people are embracing it. Perhaps it takes headlines for people to get the message.

      Nonetheless, you’ve inspired me to take one last look at Unity before native integration stops. I was gonna head to Fedora after being on Arch for 2 years, but I’ve been swayed by all this emotion and distress.

  2. Must say I will sorely miss Unity. For me conflict is worse than victory. Coexistence is always possible, but folk will always seek to expound on differences, creating conflict, divergence and spiralling antipathy. That is the MicroSoft way…make sure other players can not work well, create incompatibilities rather than allow different visions the same platform. But human nature is such, evolution is such; such is the path to domination or extinction. I really appreciate your reflection.

    • I think now that Canonical has distanced itself from Unity, it’s possible that it ends up being embraced in a whole new way. Initially, I had viewed Unity as Canonical saying “Fine, we’ll do things our way and you’ll have to accept it either way”. Now Canonical gets to have their cake and eat it too.

      Thank you for reading my reflection. I really did miss the mark (pun intended) the first time around. Glad I learned this lesson early on.

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