A report distributed under Creative Commons 3 and available at
That shows Canonical — the commercial arm of Ubuntu — has contributed only about one percent of the code to the GNOME desktop for Linux. while Red Hat accounts for 17 percent of the code and Novell developers are responsible for about 11 percent. That prompted some heartburn from Mark, creator- founder Cannonical/ Ubuntu at http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/517
And it would be a very different story if it weren’t for the Mozilla folks and Netscape before them, and GNOME and KDE, and Google and everyone else who have exercised that stack in so many different ways, making it better along the way. There are tens of thousands of people who are not in any way shape or form associated with Ubuntu, who make this story real. Many of them have been working at it for more than a decade – it takes a long time to make an overnight success while Ubuntu has only been on the scene six years. So Ubuntu cannot be credited solely for the delight of its users.
Nevertheless, the Ubuntu Project does bring something unique, special and important to free software: a total commitment to everyday users and use cases, the idea that free software should be “for everyone” both economically and in ease of use, and a willingness to chase down the problems that stand between here and there. I feel that commitment is a gift back to the people who built every one of those packages. If we can bring free software to ten times the audience, we have amplified the value of your generosity by a factor of ten, we have made every hour spent fixing an issue or making something amazing, ten times as valuable. I’m very proud to be spending the time and energy on Ubuntu that I do. Yes, I could do many other things, but I can’t think of another course which would have the same impact on the world.
I recognize that not everybody will feel the same way. Bringing their work to ten times the audience without contributing features might just feel like leeching, or increasing the flow of bug reports 10x. I suppose you could say that no matter how generous we are to downstream users, if upstream is only measuring code, then any generosity other than code won’t be registered. I don’t really know what to do about that – I didn’t found Ubuntu as a vehicle for getting lots of code written, that didn’t seem to me to be what the world needed.
Open source communities work like democracies with all noise whereas R and D within corporates have a stricter hierarchy. Still for all that – Ubuntu and Android have made Linux mainstream just as R has made statistical software available to all.
And Ubuntu also has great support for R (particularly the single click R Commander Install and Icon) available at http://packages.ubuntu.com/lucid/math/r-cran-rcmdr