Canonical’s recent announcement that they will be taking a stand against risky unofficial Ubuntu images has been causing a bit of a stir this week, most notably on Matthew Garrett’s Ubuntu still isn’t free software post (discussion on Hacker News).
In particular, I think this line from Canonical’s post is problematic:
cloud providers who offer an Ubuntu experience for devops must participate in this program
Instead of simply requiring that providers use the standard Ubuntu images, Canonical appears to be saying that you must also pay them to certify that you are doing so (or certify that your changes are acceptable). I couldn’t find any pricing details on their website, which usually means whatever is advertised isn’t free or a nominal cost.
Interestingly Bytemark Hosting and Mythic Beasts, both of whom offer Ubuntu (I have cloud instances with them, although the majority run Debian), are not listed on Canonical’s Certified Public Cloud programme. BitFolk is also not listed, but according to their website they also offer Ubuntu.
Update: Canonical’s intellectual property rights policy explicitly allows the redistribution of unmodified versions of Ubuntu, although that permission can be revoked at any time (thanks to John Leach for the pointer). I’m not sure what counts as ‘unmodified’ though – if you run some post-install scripts for each customer to setup networking, resolvers etc. does that count as a modification? What happens if you bake those configuration options into an image file?