Boils down to it is not an either or situation.
In Ubuntu like with other Debian based OS, the repositories supply most installable programs as binaries (in .deb packages)
the same is roughly true of Fedora and other Red Hat based OS (using .rpm packages)
So you could say your Ubuntu stuff comes from Canonical but in many cases the packages comes from upstream from Debian anyway.
The point being that though whether you choose a full install CD or DVD (ISO) or minimal install (gets the rest of it online) that is more just an automation of the install process with a list of packages and different actions to do by default.
(E.g. check hardware, setup the disk space, install these items from CD, check for network and try to enable, install some more items from the internet, check for updates, create the first user account, set the locale / clock / keyboard type).
It is not just one big self-contained blob.
And there is no single place for some magic off switch or inhibitor that stops you later adding a repo for stuff from other places (e.g. my version of Skype can come from Canonical or direct from Microsoft itself and it gives me a choice) and removing stuff later.
Anyone else can provide a repository (with a collection of 1 or more packages) or even just some .deb files that you can download and install (much like for Windows you might install from an .msi or similar to a .cab file).
For example my list of repositories includes packages and automatic updates supplied from Canonical, Google (e.g. the talk plugin), XBMC team, SavoirFaireLinux (some VoIP package) and some smaller development teams (some DLNA stuff).
For the user the Update Manager handles updates for you in once place in the GUI no matter how many different online places the software is coming in from.
I'm not sure Cannonical would or even could re-engineer the whole thing not
to be able to take software from anywhere
because the concept exists at various levels throughout how such OSes work. There is too much to re-engineer from the ground up and would not get much help from existing devs.
Say if China used it as is for a year then tried to lock it down (somehow make a closed version) well people would just create something else from an earlier open version or make available code to reverse the changes while fooling the OS into phoning home saying "all is still well, nothing to see here". The "official" Chinese version would become one choice in many (but it already will be that anyway).
I am more inclined towards the other posts that China sees a strategic advantage in being independent of software that has a licence fee especially something like Windows that originates in the USA - and its recent US hardening of attitude towards Huawei, ZTE may be a factor not relying for software on a country that already does not trust Chinese firms. OK I'm guessing but it would not need to be a formal link, merely enough that it adds to a sense of unease, compared with working with a UK company and being able to see (and participate in) what goes into the OS.
It does sound like what a country would do if it were playing the long game.
Can you imagine MS response if China authorities asked to see under the hood at the Windows source to be able to customise it themselves - usually the first answer is no, the second is sign this NDA and pay $$$$$$ to see selected
bits of it.
prompt $P - Invalid drive specification - Abort, Retry, Fail? $G
prlzx on iDNET: ADSL2+ / 21CN at ~4Mbps / 700kbps with IP4/6
Edited by prlzx (Mon 25-Mar-13 23:58:58)