I think we must stop confusing Ubuntu the Product and Ubuntu the Project.
Some ex-contributors to Ubuntu cite the alleged “change of direction” of Canonical. With due respect, that is rubbish. If you truly thought Canonical was a charity, sorry, but you’re being kind of a fool. Canonical is a company—and a cool one, I have to say—and as such it seeks profitability. Even Mozilla has that goal, because it’s a company as well. And that’s fine.
It’s perfectly fine to stop contributing to Ubuntu because you’re burned out. That’s okay—that can happen, and life and personal interests change. But it’s a lie that Canonical has changed Ubuntu the Product so that is now more closed and disregards community. It’s simple: if it did, I wouldn’t even be able to post to Planet Ubuntu. Or put it like this, Planet Ubuntu wouldn’t exist at all.
Honestly, I don’t have issues with the way Canonical is managing Ubuntu. Simply because, it has not changed significatively since its inception in 2004. Ubuntu the product has always been a Canonical-backed product, with a community behind*. Canonical spends a lot of money providing community members with many services, and that’s something I truly appreciate**. Besides, I’ve been welcomed here by people I don’t know in real life, for me it’s a great feeling that someone you don’t know has considered you a valuable part of the project.
And you can’t argue that Canonical is doing different than its competitors. For example, I contribute to Fedora as well, which is Red Hat’s “pet”, similar to Ubuntu. And Red Hat also spends money for providing Fedora’s members with services. Both companies are welcoming to people. But if you really fear helping a company build a product as I do, then you should not try to do it because you’ll be disappointed. It’s a matter of whether you clearly know what to expect when joining a certain project. And FWIW I expected way less than what Canonical has given me as a Project member, because I did not join for the certificate, or the mail address, or the web hosting, or the discounts in third-party websites, or [name your favorite membership benefit]… I did join “only” to improve my (second) language and computer skills and have fun, and that’s it. Joining has surpassed my expectatives, and that’s why I’m here.
So I am proudly an Ubuntu Member, and I won’t go just because someone fears Canonical’s going “closed”. Heck, I’m sure they aren’t because they haven’t “fired” me!
* “behind” as in backing it, not conveying that is less important than it. Duh…
** That’s maybe because of my country of origin, which is third-world, full of corruption and filthy politicians; rich in natural resources but people is extremely poor. It affects your perspective: I am not accustomed to companies that give things away like this one.