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Fuduntu: Kids and Community can be so cruel

August 18, 2013

When I first saw the attractive Fuduntu cloverleaf logo, which embodied an “f” for Fedora, I suppose, I thought it also, evoked the Windows logo, and the Apple cloverleaf key.

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 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, 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.

 Cloverleaf, in my dark mocha, and on the Net
  1. There were many celebrations of our death, and also much sorrow. To be honest, it’s quite a relief that Fuduntu is dead. I thought I’d miss it, but I really don’t. It had gotten to a point where it just wasn’t worth continuing it, especially when I and others were pouring our own lives and our own money into it to bring it to life and sustain it as it grew. While there are many people who were thankful and happy with Fuduntu – there are many more who made me question if was even worth it.

    In the end, it wasn’t.

    You’ve touched on some key issues we had faced, we weren’t able to shake the name stigma you see it made fun of at times even now after it’s gone. I think the biggest bout of burnout for me personally came from the constant heckling from the community, and from people like Dietrich himself who made constant demands while dangling the “I’ll give you a bad review if you don’t do what I want” carrot over my head.

    I lost track of the number of times I was told (not asked) to change our name, change our distro, or to just go away. You’ve only scratched the surface of the sort of kindergarten nonsense I dealt with over the life of the project.

    Since we were unable to attract enough developers interested in helping us further our project, and also unable to earn enough of an income to keep from continuing to dip into my wallet, we chose to meet the communities demand and kill the project, to the dismay of a few of our dedicated users and to ourselves of course.

    It’s sad, sure, but we just did what was best for us. Some of the devs are working on Cloverleaf (I’m not one of them), maybe it will be great – lets hope so.

    As for me personally, I’m a Windows and Android user now at home, and my time is better spent – on myself and my family.

    At work I use CentOS with a few bits ported from Fuduntu, and I contribute to an upstream project or two when it suits me but overall, I’m happy to be back in my own little world where I don’t have to interact with the children of FOSS.

    Nice post, thanks.


    • I’m reminded of the expression “No good deed goes unpunished.” Fuduntu highlighted a real disconnect between the community, or intelligentsia,” if you will, and the audience. Fuduntu was delivering a fresh, innovative, stable computing experience, every bit the equal of a commercial product — isn’t that what FOSS stands for? Dietrich is waving “innovator” versus “cookie-cutter distro” around like a weapon. That’s not “community,” that’s a big fish in a small pond. I’m left wondering what the so-called Linux community actually wants — innovation or conformity; new leaders or just more followers? The treatment of Fuduntu within the community smacks of bullying, plain, and simple. The Linux community can’t afford that — it needs people like you more than you need it.


      • We were outcasts for trying to be different and trying to bridge that gap to build a product users wanted rather than what developers wanted and that’s one of the many reasons we were unpopular. I don’t think the collective (non-developer) community really has a voice, if they do, the people developing the platform don’t care to listen. Examples: GNOME 3, Unity, systemd, and many of the other “solutions” looking for problems to solve that exist out there today.

        I don’t know if the community really needs people like me, it seems like they don’t; but the way the free software ecosystem works, people like me don’t really do well as contributors because we care more about improving the platform for others than we do stroking our own egos.


      • I think what you were did was important, and of lasting value to Linux. I also think Linux’s future, if not it’s survival, depends how important the community feels it is for Linux to outgrow it’s reputation for being a plaything for geeks and developers. I like the quote I’ve read, attributed to Alan Cox: “Gnome isn’t really a desktop anyway – it’s a research project.” A lot of good has come out of that research, and lots else.

        In the absence of money as a measure or reward, ego, and power-tripping can fill the gap. Volunteering can be very hard on people at the best of times. As for us users, I think FOSS software developers are slowly making all the operating systems irrelevant, from the user’s point of view. Software now trumps all. Freehand is Freehand on any OS. I’m currently using a Windows 8 box ‘cuz I’m not smart enough to get a Linux distro to understand the Ralink wireless. Eventually I will, but for now, virtually all the programs I use on my Ubuntu box are available as Windows ware. Windows 8 becomes like a shallow stream I can cross without even getting my feet wet by walking on the exposed opensource rocks.


    • Indeed a very nice article and it does touch on some things in the final days of Fuduntu. Those of us that moved on to build Cloverleaf still battle with things upstream a lot. Especially when it comes to and i hate to say this anything Gnome related this was one of the main reasons we decided to bring our own take on KDE/Qt to the table.

      Development is slow but steady with only 3 active developers and the rest of the team on extended leave due to real life situations. The problem of attracting new developers we had at Fuduntu still haunts us today. It seems as everyone wants to use a distro but not help improve it. That said a lot of the work is done and a lot of what made Fuduntu has been re-implemented and improved upon and we are currently entering the process of themeing and preparing default apps and configs.

      The move to openSUSE has been extremely beneficial and the openSUSE team has been more then helpful to us they have supported us with aid from code to artwork.

      The name oh the name there is a story around this but let’s just say picking a name was not easy for several reason one of them being legal but the name cloverleaf originated from Will Stephenson of openSUSE fame in what i will call intense debate around our original name and it stuck it was a clear break from Fuduntu and that is what we were aiming for. Because even though we rose from what used to be Fuduntu and we embrace many of it’s principles we are not Fuduntu. This even is something that i have been trying to make clear for a while now but people seem to be somewhat reluctant to accept.


      • I’ve been impressed with what I’ve read in openSUSE forums. The “open” may also stand for open-minded, and inclusive. Cloverleaf is a good name — it’s just that in Canada, it’s the brand name of one of our largest fish canneries. Anyway, the name shouldn’t be such a big deal as it was with Fuduntu. The FUD nonsense is plain shocking to me. Microsoft may have been everyone’s historic bugbear, but today I think Linux is becoming it’s own worst enemy. What was it FUD stood for again.. Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian — or was it Dietrich? I look forward to the new thing.


  2. sfaulken permalink

    Wow, the first well informed and researched article about why fuduntu is no more….

    Good job sqwabb, that was a good read. As a former fuduntu team member, that’s a pretty fair assessment of what happened, for not having been involved in the team discussions.

    And as one of the Project leads for Cloverleaf, thanks for the well wishes.

    As to the “Phoenix” name, I don’t know if anybody recalls, but Firefox was originally called Phoenix, and it ran into trademark trouble. And while we never really considered “Phoenix” as a name, I can almost assure you that we would run into the same issue, had we chosen that name, and gained any sort of public recognition.

    Additionally, we are working closely with the openSUSE team, and our name did have to be chosen as to not infringe upon, or cause trouble with their trademarks, which we are fine with. Cloverleaf is a fine name, if not a name that’s going to smack people across the face when they hear it…..


  3. toto et la flute de Paen permalink

    Pity i discovered an abandonned project…its still downloadable in France on the Malavida site & SourceForge…anyone out there with a Fuduntu iso containing Firefox Browser,??…i’ve been trying to get by Torrents ,no luck,all contain Chromium….I guess you had your reasons to stop,am actually using Blag140000k&Xubuntu13.04..Sabayon MATE as an alternative will not install(Nvidia..)…people of your talent will certainly remodel another disrtibution..hope you include MATE..thanks so much anyhow..


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