Before the start of the holidays last year, the Ubuntu Community Council was approached by a concerned member of the community regarding the news that Linux Mint had been asked to sign a license agreement in order to continue distributing software packages out of the Ubuntu repositories.
Over the past two months, the Community Council has had several discussions, mailing list threads and meetings about this. In addition, we’ve reached out to another derivative for their understanding of the situation and spoken with external legal experts.
We are more than aware that some time has passed since the original approach and feel that we need to make it known that we’ve not been ignoring the situation. Legal issues are complex and we have to be mindful of the difference between personal and legal opinions. Understanding the weight of our words would carry we felt it was important to take time to gather facts and discuss the issue thoroughly.
At this time, we are in agreement that one of the keys to Ubuntu’s success is in providing a well-designed, reliable and enjoyable experience to all of our users, whether they are using Ubuntu on a desktop, a phone or in the cloud. To that end it is critical that when people see “Ubuntu”, it adequately represents the software that we all build and stand behind. This is as important to our individual reputations as much as to the reputation of the project as a whole. Trademarks and Copyrights are the legal tools provided to us for safeguarding those reputations, and it’s part of Canonical’s mandate within the Ubuntu project to use those tools appropriately, balancing the needs of all those involved in making Ubuntu. Canonical already provides a license for the use of these to the Ubuntu project and all of its distributions, including Ubuntu itself as well as those flavors that are developed in collaboration with it.
We believe there is no ill-will against Linux Mint, from either the Ubuntu community or Canonical and that Canonical does not intend to prevent them from continuing their work, and that this license is to help ensure that. What Linux Mint does is appreciated, and we want to see them succeed.
The Community Council feels that Canonical is making an honest and reasonable effort to balance the needs of the community and that any specific legal concerns should be addressed to the legal councils of those involved.
Finally, the Community Council would like to take this opportunity to remind people that it is important to work in a respectful collaborative manner when there are issues that concern the community. While this has been a valuable discussion to have, it’s also important to remember that everybody involved in the Ubuntu project, Canonical included, wants to see it and open source in general succeed and become as widely used as possible. Be mindful that you do not get caught up in a controversy, where a discussion with the parties concerned could clear up any misunderstandings. But when you do have any concerns about an issue such as this, we strongly encourage you to contact the Community Council directly and we will always do our best to provide accurate information or, when necessary, appropriate intervention to resolve the issue to the benefit of everybody involved. We are available to everybody, inside or outside the Ubuntu community.
Ubuntu Community Council