I don’t have a lot more to say about the Ubuntu Community Council’s decision, backed up by the SABDFL, to, in secret, with no consultation with the rest of the leadership of the Kubuntu community (i.e. the Kubuntu Council) remove Jonathan Riddell than I’ve already said to them in the series of emails I’ve just made public.
Since I got involved in Ubuntu development in 2006, I’ve known we had a SABDFL. I’ve never particularly liked it, but I understood it. SABDFL created and funded both Canonical and Ubuntu. His sand box, his rules. Fair enough. What I didn’t know until this week though was that we had more than one.
I invite people to re-read the Code of Conduct and consider how that relates to how the Ubuntu Community Council has handled their dispute with Jonathan Riddell. I think their actions in no way comport to either the letter or spirit of the CoC. I had held out some hope that this secret trial and expulsion decision was not supported by the SABDFL and that he would intervene to help de-escalate the situation so we could reach a reasonable resolution and move forward as a community.
Unfortunately, he didn’t. What he said was, “The CC is entitled to choose who they will recognise as their counterparts and representatives in sub-communities like Kubuntu.” The CC is entitled to choose. So in addition to a SABDFL, we have a CC that can for whatever reason determine anyone is unsuitable to be in a leadership position. I mention this specifically as a warning to others in leadership positions in Ubuntu. You are very specifically not free to criticize the CC. I’m sure they will push back and claim the issue isn’t the criticism, but the way it was done. That may or may not be true, only they know, but I do know that there was no consultation done with the Kubuntu Council to try and resolve this. Since they operate in secret, there’s no way to know when one is near or over whatever arbitrary line they choose to draw.
I don’t know what Jonathan did or did not do. The CC have declined to provide any information to support their rather extreme accusations. As far as I can tell (for example), regarding the accusation that Canonical employees have trouble working with him, I haven’t been able to find any despite several days of asking people who work for Canonical that I know work with him. I suspect I know where to find the Canonical employees in question based on one of the replies in the extended discussion between CC and KC members, “It’s been stressful to everyone on the CC, particularly our members who work for Canonical and are powerless in this situation”. It would be nice if they were adult enough to actually say specifically who they are and not hide behind anonymity in making this accusation. Personally, I think this probably says more about the appropriateness of having Canonical employees on the CC than it does about anything Jonathan may have done wrong.
In the end, I don’t think it matters much what he did or not do. For me, the primary point is about the CC’s complete failure to follow the CoC and the SABDFL approval of that. Almost exactly six years ago, I wrote a blog post talking about being here for the freedom, Back home from UDS Karmic. I still am. In retrospect, I think I was a fool to expect freedom in a dictatorship.
Except in the unlikely event this somehow all gets undone, I plan to wind down my involvement with Ubuntu and move fully to Debian (where I’ve also been involved in development for some time). I still have Ubuntu systems to support and they will take time to migrate. Additionally, the CoC requires me to “Step down considerately”. I’m not going to just dump everything so an appropriate transition won’t be fast. It might not be a bad idea though that if you’re thinking I’m going to do something that isn’t finished, check with me and make sure I still plan on it, since my motivation level for Ubuntu work has about hit bottom.
This is not the Ubuntu project I joined in 2006. I would like to have that one back, but it’s not my call. I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable in what it’s become. I’ll most regret leaving behind a lot of great people I’ve worked with. Fortunately, many of them are active in Debian too, so I’ll still see them there.