Concentration, Community and Cooperation

I read the news about the launch of Ubuntu User by Linux New Media AG with some sadness. I believe that free software is stronger because of the informal cooperation between different distributions that usually do different jobs. It lets us see what’s growing in our neighbour’s garden. I’m a debian developer, but I don’t subscribe to many debian-specific products or services because I like the broader view.

Also, at a generally-economically-weak time when some more general publications seem to be dying and restarting, concentrating on the Ubuntu users seems like it probably won’t be a big enough audience to sustain a title. The temporary loss of readers could also push other multi-distribution magazines over the brink.

Now, I use and support Ubuntu systems from time to time (among others), but it feels like Ubuntu attracts this sort of anti-social single-distribution concentration more often than any other current one. Its users seem even more fixed on it than Gentoo’s users, which is almost the opposite of what I expect from a distribution which claims “Ubuntu and Free Software are about collaboration and working together”.

So why does this happen? Are any sociologists researching whether there are really narrower horizons among Ubuntu users than others? Have any Ubuntu community leaders questioned the lack of collaboration with Free Software in launching an Ubuntu-only magazine in a recession?

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