Sunday, May 28, 2006

Ubuntu Landscape somewhat announced

Mark Shuttleworth mentioned in a recent interview that Canonical is working on a service that will probably overlap with NWU:
There is, additionally, a team that’s working on management infrastructure, so providing people with a comprehensive framework to manage large deployments of servers. That won’t be released for Dapper, but all the foundations of it will be there so that Dapper will be manageable just as people have come to expect a Red Hat Enterprise deployment to be managed, through the web. We’ll deliver that same level of functionality with Dapper as soon as the other pieces of that solution are in place.

It seems it will be a paid service, much like Red Hat Network. There is even a placeholder package that recently slipped into dapper, called landscape-client, which will probably be replaced by a "nwu-agent"-like tool to manage the server.

This is a feature that makes Ubuntu attractive to the slice of the corporate market that likes "enterprise"-rated products. It also helps us understand that Canonical is not an awkward humanitarian organization, but a market-oriented company (although with a philosophy). Secret projects are expected in such a context.

I think they should have brought this to the public before, although I would have worked on NWU anyway. I still am working hard on it, for three reasons: 1) it appears that landscape will not be free; 2) Debian will (I presume) still miss a tool like that and; 3) I've dedicated months of my free time to code an implementation that spec and it's almost there.

I'm hoping that this software would not replace NWU entirely, so it's not a big issue.
I do think they should have mentioned it, though - maybe in the NetworkWideUpdates spec.

This behaviour may not break the "never ask for a fee" and "totally free environment" policies, but makes it less attractive for the community to contribute to Ubuntu. Project contributors don't get this kind of surprises with Debian, for example.


  1. Original comment from: Docunext Tech Stuff » Blog Archive » Network Wide Updates

    [...] to the Ubuntu newsletter I read about Phoronix, a cool tech blog, and then found out about Canonical’s Landscape, and then about nwu. Cool how this stuff is all [...]

  2. Original comment from: tecosystems » Enterprising Ubuntu?

    [...] to the enterprise radar is of course still unresolved. And it should be noted that not everyone is happy about the [...]

  3. Original comment from: Steve George


    I'm responsible for the Landscape project within Canonical. First, apologies if this caught you off-guard and you feel it's disruptive to your project. We haven't announced Landscape before this because it wasn't ready, and we try very hard not to talk about things before they're ready. Otherwise it just comes across as fluff. Unfortunately, as you noted that makes them "secret" sometimes.

    Secondly, for all the reasons you noted (and that fact that this is an interesting problem area) I don't think Landscape should disrupt your project. It may be of interest (it may not be) for you to know that the Landscape client is free software so potentially you could use it in your system.

    It's quite true that Landscape is both a commercial service and proprietary. I hope you won't hold that against Ubuntu as the two things are separate. Ubuntu is Free Software and will always remain so.

    Canonical will develop services around Ubuntu to pay for our investment and that's what Landscape is about. I don't think we've ever hidden that we're a commercial business.


  4. Steve,

    Thank you for your message. It made me feel warm inside. :-)

    Please note that my post is dated from May 2006. Indeed my words were a bit bitter, I can't hide that I felt sad at that time. Landscape was a surprise to me.

    It's clear to me now that Canonical was correct and coherent in working in this project in a "secret" way until it was ready. The NWU development has stalled for personal reasons and the release of Landscape would only work as an incentive. It's also good to know that the client software is open source, thank you for letting me know.

    I still think Canonical is one of the most admirable companies around. Merits of the people working there.

    Best regards