Disappointment at the Linux Foundation and MeeGo Project

I’ve been stewing over a response on the MeeGo developers mailing list for some time now.  Basically the MeeGo Project and their steward, the Linux Foundation don’t seem to be wanting to play this whole open source, open community game.  I wouldn’t have any issue with it if it was just Nokia and Intel fumbling with MeeGo, it would be just another lost opportunity that big corporations screwed up on.  Problem is the Linux Foundation is involved and are supposedly the ones guiding the project.

In case you don’t know, before I released Smeegol I asked some questions on the MeeGo Dev list with regards to what openSUSE can/can’t do/use.  That kind of went nowhere.  Fedora have also tried asking and again got nowhere.  Debian have also asked, and after seven weeks theLinux Foundation answered.

In all honesty, I was insensed by the response. I spoke to my counterparts at Fedora and they too echoed my feelings. To allow those in the openSUSE and wider community who aren’t subscribed to the MeeGo lists I’ll provide my response.  For those in a rush:

tl;dr - Don’t think MeeGo, don’t say MeeGo, don’t contribute to MeeGo unless it is on our terms, don’t use MeeGo unless it is on our crippled distro, MeeGo is going it alone.

For those that want to see me rant some more:

Hi Ibrahim,

On Thu, 2010-12-09 at 13:12 -0600, Ibrahim Haddad wrote:
> Hello Didier,
> I am responding to you in relation to your inquiry below. First,
> thanks very much for sending the MeeGo Project these questions. We
> really do appreciate it. The MeeGo Project members devoted quite a bit
> of time discussing these questions to make sure the  responses are
> fair and most of all work to the benefit of the MeeGo project, its
> developers and the users of MeeGo.

Seven weeks to effectively turn around and say “No, no, no”?  I’m sorry
if I sound bitter or angry; but the truth of the matter is that I’m
actually fairly disgusted with how the Linux Foundation, Nokia and Intel
have all acted towards the wider Linux community.  For all the talk of
openness at the conference in Dublin all I see are closed doors and

> To start with, the goal is to avoid any confusion around what is and
> what is not MeeGo.  Anything that is or will become associated with
> the MeeGo trademark has to be in conformance with the compliance
> program.  With that in mind, it becomes clear why none of the proposed
> uses of MeeGo  mentioned in your email are in line with the trademark
> policy and guidelines as they create confusion around MeeGo project
> packages, mailing list, project team name, etc.  For example, when you
> append MeeGo to a package name, it would be very reasonable to
> conclude that this is an official MeeGo package coming from MeeGo.com,
> which is not the case and could cause confusion both for your users as
> well MeeGo’s.

I’m sorry but do you honestly think that users who install the MeeGo UX
on a distro be it openSUSE, Fedora, Debian or whichever are going to
think that it has come from the MeeGo project?  This doesn’t happen for
any open source project that is available via a distribution. GNOME, KDE
etc welcome inclusion into distros and want downstream involvement.  Why
do you feel that MeeGo doesn’t?

Trying to paint all users with a stupid brush is wrong and condescending
to both users and distros.  You appear to be missing a key factor that
myself and my counterparts are doing here – marketing MeeGo and enabling
the wider community to get involved and help make MeeGo better.  Why
should a developer have to install a new distro to be able to contribute
to the codebase?

Having meego in a package name shows where the upstream contribution
comes from.  Just like with packages from Google etc.  This is the most
basic form of attribution, and is only right.  Why are you trying to
force people to fork?  Yes, fork.  If you don’t want people to recognise
your work and re-use it with almost no changes why have it in the open?

Linux users and especially developers can be fickle, they find a distro
they like and stick to it – quite often they are more faithful to their
distro than they are to their partner or loved one.  Forcing them to
choose between distro or contributing to MeeGo the chances are they’ll
stick to their distro of choice.

When Moblin was around, it was one of three things – a User eXperience,
a distribution and a reference platform.  This worked well, so why have
you changed it?

/> We would ask you to move away from using {M,m}-e-e-{G,g}-o or any
/> subset of those letters or sounds in that order, alone or in
/> combination with other letters, words or marks that would tend to
/> cause someone to make a reasonable connection of the reference with
/> the MeeGo mark. We specifically discussed one possibility for
/> illustration purposes – which is to use MG in the place of MeeGo.  We
/> do not think that a plain text MG, when used in reference to the code,
/> as in a file or project or team name, would cause a reasonable person
/> to be confused.

This fanatical enforcement of the MeeGo trademark is going to do more
damage than good.  People have asked me what’s different between MeeGo’s
trademark guidelines and openSUSE’s, and the simple answer is it is the
execution of the trademark that sets us apart.  Thinking that people are
going to get “confused” between Smeegol and MeeGo is ludicrous.  Sure
I’m not a lawyer/solicitor or any other form of legal professional, but
I don’t need to be to apply common sense.

We are trying to promote MeeGo and further it in an already crowded
space.  Making us change package names, and removing any reference to
MeeGo gives you absolutely zero visibility.  At the end of the day,
openSUSE and the other distros have a much wider reach than MeeGo does,
and possibly ever will as a stand alone distro.

/> We are available for additional discussions if needed and if you
/> prefer to have a call to discuss we can certainly do that.

I have tried several times to discuss these issues, and have even tried
going off list to facilitate the dialogue in a more protected manner.
MeeGo is far from open to the community, if I was an ISV or ISV then
sure it maybe more open but from what I’ve heard even partners have a
tough time.

Being an exclusive project is a sure way to failure. Try being
inclusive, you’ll have more chance of succeeding.  If you don’t want
community participation that’s fine, re-license to something proprietary
and you wont get bothered by those that want to help.  Yes you have
already re-licensed some code from open licenses to proprietary ones
without any announcement to the community, not a great open gesture.

/> Best Regards,
/> Ibrahim Haddad [on behalf of The Meego Project]
/> PS:
/> We started an FAQ at http://meego.com/trademark. We have added some
/> text already and Q&A will be added there as they come.

I don’t see a single question or answer in that FAQ, just a statement.
Not especially helpful to the community.