Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Matt Zimmerman must not quit Ubuntu.

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the keynote address by Mark Shuttleworth at the Linuxcon 2009, the CTO of Canonical, Matt Zimmerman went public in voicing his opinion, suggesting that the remark his boss made was sexist. This has led to calls for him to say goodbye to Canonical because he had gone public with his views about his boss' remark. I have a problem with such calls and really think he should not be given the boot nor pressured into leaving Canonical and for that matter Ubuntu.

First of all, whether the remark in question was sexist or not, I think is irrelevant in the sense that whatever one says is always bound to be interpreted by people in various ways. And Mark Shuttleworth, being who he is, is more prone to such human idiosyncracies. So when Matt went public with his opinion, I was not surprised he had also interpreted his boss' speech as such. However, I am surprised at the call for his resigantion from Canonical.

Canonical, and for that matter Ubuntu, pride themselves on certain philosophies that I believe must be upheld at all times, the theme of this philosophy being tolerance and  humanity towards each other. How then can such a company throw out or pressure someone to resign because he had disagreed with his boss albeit publicly?

Matt did not make his statement on behalf of Canonical, he made his statement as an individual. Yes he should have waited to watch the video again and  be sure of the context in which his boss made the remark before going public. Yes he should have exercised a little restraint in his rush to air his opinions, but that is also precisely the reason why I think Canonical should not fire him nor bring any pressure to bear on him to resign.

This is an opportunity for Mark Shuttleworth and the team over at Canonical to prove to the world that they do stand by the philosophies that they tout. They should prove to the world the level of tolerance they have for all people and how they are willing to still be with people who disagree with them. This will go a long way to help further the growth of Ubuntu for people will know that yes, the philosophies behind it are not empty cliches. Firiing Matt Zimmerman or bringing pressure to bear on him will not do any good to Ubuntu or Canonical: it will only serve to tell people how intolerable the people behind the Ubuntu distro are.

Do you think Matt Zimmerman should quit Canonical? Please share your thoughts.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 6 comments

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