Fuduntu: Kids and Community can be so cruel
I’ve continued to gnaw away at why Funduntu turned out the lights; I’m like a none-too-bright dog — and no, that’s not a Puppy Linux crack. I love Puppy.
Of course Andrew Wyatt, and company would rightly say they’ve explained why, but I didn’t quite get it (see above dog reference). So I’ve been reading, back to 2010, and forwards to just a few months ago. For better or worse, here’s what I get: Fedora’s a bit of a mess under the hood (and they didn’t have enough mechanics), and the Fuduntu team wore their name like an albatross around their collective neck for nearly three years. The former explains rebasing on OpenSUSE, and the latter explains the new name for the new distribution.
From the omgcheesecake.net thread Fuduntu EOL, the fifth post from a Fuduntu team member, covers the two basic issues:
I don’t understand the technical ramifications, but the snippets I grab are that most of the fedora core that’s still in place contains more #FIXMEs than actual code. Rebasing will simply make it more efficient for a small team to carry on.
While we are rebasing, a name change makes sense simply for the ease of being taken seriously. The community never grasped the not-so-subtle pun that was our name.
That may be a fine understatement. On the December 2010 Ubuntu Forums thread Introducing Fuduntu, the eighth reply starts the ball rolling on a misunderstanding within the Linux community the Fuduntistas never shake:
the name FUD-untu…
This thread from LinuxQuestions.org, How not to Fuduntu (Want to know how to Funduntu) from 2012, has a Fuduntu team member, fewt, still fielding, fairly negative, questions about the name, nearly two years later:
The name isn’t F.U.D.untu, or FUDuntu, it is Fuduntu. Taking three letters out of the name and implying that they mean something that they don’t mean is where your confusion lies.
Fewt was having to justify Fuduntu’s existence as something more than another respin.
What’s your selling point? Advantages over other distros…
Fewt gave a clear, concise answer, beginning with:
Stability, a traditional desktop, battery life, and performance.
I easily understood the name to be a mashup of Fedora and Ubuntu. Going with Feduntu might have saved the team a lot of angst. I saw the choice of Fuduntu, as a playful way of signally the distro’s goal of a bright, fun user experience, but what did I know? Seems the more you knew, the more likely you were to have trouble with the name. The Linux “community” has a long memory: “FUD” is an acronym for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. It refers to a method of negative propoganda, most recently associated with Microsoft’s campaign to undermine the opensource movement. The Fuduntu team were members of that same Linux community; they could’ve guessed there could be trouble with the FUD in Fuduntu. The other problem with the name was the part which suggested Ubuntu, which, in turn, seemed to automatically suggest to some that Fuduntu was just another respin of Ubuntu rather than a new distribution.
There’s a legitimate complaint that there are too many undistinguished Linux distros; often just Ubuntu with a different selection of software. Fuduntu was clearly far more than a simple respin. They were targeting a certain kind of user, using a certain kind of hardware, and doing so, in a very certain way. I may have been wrong, but I thought they were:
- Trying to do for Fedora what Ubuntu did for Debian.
- Giving Ubuntu’s target audience another good choice.
- Addressing the ways in which Ubuntu wasn’t meeting their core users’ needs.
I get a picture of a small, dedicated distribution development team. They had clear goals that distinguished their distro from any other, and they were meeting those goals, and they were meeting with success in the “marketplace.” Reviews were consistently glowing, and lots and lots of people were trying the distro, and really liking it. But the cheers, and accolades of the outside world could not entirely drown out the
haters doubters within the Linux community who continued to hang the “respin” label on Fuduntu. Again from the Fuduntu EOL thread:
… we have gotten a lot of flack from developers upstream. Can’t continue to fight them and be successful when most of that stigma can be removed with a simple s/Fuduntu/something else/.
After Fuduntu folded, the initial annoucement of the birth of FuSE met with sharp criticism, and another charge of respinism, from Dietrich Schmitz in his post Confused by FuSE. Schmitz liked Fuduntu, but wasn’t at all impressed with a fork of openSUSE. He raised the spectre of SUSE’s “agreement” with Microsoft, concerning interoperability and marketing. The former Fuduntistas have since rebranded the new effort as Cloverleaf Linux. Their site features the post, A day in the life of the “cookie cutter” distro, answering some of Dietrich Schmitz’s criticisms.
I have to say “Cloverleaf” is weak. In the Fuduntu EOL thread linked above, a poster suggested “Phoenix. Not Phoenix Linux, but just Phoenix.” That I like!
I look forward to whatever the people behind Fuduntu create in the future, and I’d like to give them my support and encouragement, though, from what I read, they’d do better with cash.This has reminded me, as if I needed reminding, that Linux isn’t really about computer software — it’s about people — they make it, and they can break it; just like everything else in Life.