I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails lately asking hardware questions, and through the natural back-and-forth of the conversations, it came to light that I’m not actually an Ubuntu member. Usually it’s met with surprise — people assume because I’m a moderator, or because I run a blog focused (almost solely) on Ubuntu, that I’ve earned the honor.
I haven’t. I’m not. And you can verify that on my Launchpad page, or by checking to see if my blog is aggregated on Planet Ubuntu (which is only an option for members, so that wouldn’t prove it really). I have signed the Code of Conduct, but that doesn’t make you a member — only an Ubuntero. You have to apply for membership, and be admitted.
Which I don’t plan on doing, in the foreseeable future anyway. Mostly that’s because I have some real-life events that are impeding that right now, and until those issues are settled, I’m not comfortable taking on the additional project of assembling an application. Perhaps in six months or a year, when things have settled a little.
More so than that, I don’t feel I’ve made enough of a contribution to warrant membership, and I’m not just being humble. Filling a few bug reports or running a blog isn’t enough, in my opinion. And to me, moderating isn’t enough either. I understand I’m offered a fast-track to membership because I was on staff when the forums were integrated into the Ubuntu superstructure, but I don’t know if that’s what I want to hold up to the council as my contribution. I’d like to have something a little more substantial to show off.
But most of all, I’m not sure I want to apply if I would be sacrificing any form of freedom of expression on Ubuntu, or Linux for that matter. I have discussed this with other forum staff — some Ubuntu members, some not — and some have said there’s no practical restriction, while others say they’ve been told what to say, or what not to write. So I don’t know if I would be making a concession by joining.
That lingering doubt is the dealbreaker. I’ve been a somewhat vocal critic of Xubuntu in the past, and sometimes griped about trivial points, like the way Mirage is packaged. But I relish that freedom. I don’t know if I would want to be a member if I would have to censor myself. Perhaps that’s an unfounded worry, but without some measure of reassurance on that point, I’m comfortable where I’m at.