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Ubuntu Board Votes On Non-Free Software Option

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  • Ubuntu Board Votes On Non-Free Software Option

    Phoronix: Ubuntu Board Votes On Non-Free Software Option

    You may have heard of Launchpad's Bug #723831 this month, which is a bug to select the 'install third-party software' option in Ubuntu's LiveCD installer by default. By doing so, Adobe Flash support and various other non-free packages would effectively be installed by default, thereby providing a better "out of the box" experience where YouTube would be working nicely, etc. Obviously though including non-free software by default in Ubuntu is a hotly debated issue...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=OTI1Mg

  • #2
    This would have gone against Ubuntu's long standing policy that the only concession is for hardware drivers as detailed at http://www.ubuntu.com/project/about-ubuntu/licensing.
    Basically they voted about a change in policy but they rejected the proposal by pointing out the policy. Something is wrong here...

    I wish Shuttleworth would make these kind of descisions. Ubuntu is successful because it is easy to use. Installing all the required software automatically would improve it even more without hurting anyone. I really can't understand this descision at all. They rework their whole desktop (unity) and risk offending a huge part of their userbase but they are unable to make such a small change, which really would make a difference _without_ offending anyone.

    An unexperienced user expects the default settings to be the optimal configuration. So it's harder for newbie to select a checkbox than it is for a pro to deselect it.

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    • #3
      Urgh thank god, this would have been a disaster

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Temar View Post
        Basically they voted about a change in policy but they rejected the proposal by pointing out the policy. Something is wrong here...

        I wish Shuttleworth would make these kind of descisions. Ubuntu is successful because it is easy to use. Installing all the required software automatically would improve it even more without hurting anyone. I really can't understand this descision at all. They rework their whole desktop (unity) and risk offending a huge part of their userbase but they are unable to make such a small change, which really would make a difference _without_ offending anyone.

        An unexperienced user expects the default settings to be the optimal configuration. So it's harder for newbie to select a checkbox than it is for a pro to deselect it.
        100% agreed.

        Sad to see they chose the user-unfriendly solution.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Temar View Post
          I wish Shuttleworth would make these kind of descisions. Ubuntu is successful because it is easy to use.
          What's so difficult about ticking a select box? Or by going to youtube, trying to view a video and seeing a message stating that additional software must be installed to view the video and have the computer install it?

          Originally posted by Temar View Post
          An unexperienced user expects the default settings to be the optimal configuration. So it's harder for newbie to select a checkbox than it is for a pro to deselect it.
          That's the problem. Thinking that the " typical user" doesn't know a thing about computers. It may be the case with some people, but some will also know that if something isn't working as expected it's time to call their computer geek friend to fix it. And nowadays everybody that has a computer, has at least one computer geek friend as well.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by devius View Post
            What's so difficult about ticking a select box? Or by going to youtube, trying to view a video and seeing a message stating that additional software must be installed to view the video and have the computer install it?
            Some people don't understand the implications of that checkbox. For them it _is_ difficult to make that descision. Where is the problem in installing the software automatically? It hurts noone but it improves the user experience.

            We are not talking about Debian here, but about Ubuntu - a distribution which wants to be as easy to use as possible.

            That's the problem. Thinking that the " typical user" doesn't know a thing about computers. It may be the case with some people, but some will also know that if something isn't working as expected it's time to call their computer geek friend to fix it. And nowadays everybody that has a computer, has at least one computer geek friend as well.
            What kind of argumentation is that? That sounds like computer geeks are afraid of not being called anymore by their neighbours. Do you really _want_ to be called by your friends for such a small problem? I would prefer it if they would only ask for help if they have real problems.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Temar View Post
              which really would make a difference _without_ offending anyone.
              I'm afraid you're mistaken. I guarantee you that if the decision had been "yes, let's include non-free software by default", there would have been a raging mob calling for Shuttleworth's head and screaming that Canonical is a traitor to The Cause. Mind you, I myself would NOT be in that crowd, but it would exist nonetheless.

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              • #8
                Bad, very bad decision!

                Nice move by Ubuntu developers! (irony, OC)

                I think this decision will hurt a lot of users wanting to test Ubuntu in their computers as a first/alternative Linux OS (Operating System), because some proprietary software is needed to make things work (for instance, a lot of laptop users need the broadcom-wl drivers, as open-source broadcom is still giving some kernel panics; another example is the flash plugin, mainly if people are going to use sites such as FB or Youtube (gnash/lightspark are bad doing their "flash replacement" jobs, sorry))...

                I've been telling people to use Ubuntu as their first Linux distro, because of it's ease to install and use, but with decisions like this, I think Ubuntu will be less suitable for beginners... And I'll start to recommend some people to try alternative distros instead (Mint comes at my mind...)

                Cheers

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                • #9
                  So who let the Debian guys on the Ubuntu board?

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                  • #10
                    My 2 cents;
                    Installing non-free stuff by default would probably install the Microsoft Core Fonts package, and I HATE those fonts. To my eyes, they are the most despicable, ugly fonts in the universe, and there are free font replacements a plenty. I notice a lot of applications use those fonts by default, and once they're installed, it's a little bit of a hassle to remove them.

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                    • #11
                      Good decision.

                      If we start including proprietary software into the distribution, we might as well use Adobe Reader instead of Evince, UltraEdit instead of Gedit, Picasa instead of Shotwell, Fluendo DVD Player instead of Totem, Opera instead of Firefox, and WinNT instead of Linux. They all have better features or better compatibility with industry standards. Why use Linux at all? It's just a cheap clone of Windows 2000 anyway.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Remco View Post
                        Good decision.

                        If we start including proprietary software into the distribution, we might as well use Adobe Reader instead of Evince, UltraEdit instead of Gedit, Picasa instead of Shotwell, Fluendo DVD Player instead of Totem, Opera instead of Firefox, and WinNT instead of Linux. They all have better features or better compatibility with industry standards. Why use Linux at all? It's just a cheap clone of Windows 2000 anyway.
                        I can only assume the 'Windows 2000' bit was tongue in cheek...

                        I run Linux because I have very little to worry about maintenance wise. I don't run antivirus, don't have to check snopes every time I receive an email about a new devastating worm and I don't have to worry about running defrag to help maintain my system performance. No, it's not perfect, but I find myself being able to sit down and get done what I want to get done without wasting time maintaining my system.

                        Whether an app has better features or compatibility is all dependent on what your needs are. Running a slew of 3rd party closed source apps on one machine doesn't seem to affect the dominate desktop OS from, well, dominating...

                        I have had friends that I recommend Ubuntu too, and have on numerous occasions had them have issues with YouTube. If I remember correctly YouTube recognizes the OS/browser and was interfering with the Firefox plugin to detect needed plugins, so it would not automatically load. No, it wasn't hard to tell them how to install it via command line or through Synaptic, but to them it was evidence that maybe Linux/Ubuntu wasn't for them. The fact the plugin even recommends Flash indicates the need for it as Gnash doesn't cut it. I don't recall having to choose Evince over Reader. It's just there and works awesome. When Gnash is just there and works awesome no one will even recognize Flash not being there.

                        Whether you believe Linux has <1% market share or up to 10%, the bottom line is there is a TON of room to grow. The only way to do this is by attracting average users, and yes, average users are not computer savvy. Follow the advice of a much wiser man than I and 'Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.'

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                        • #13
                          Thank god.
                          Ubuntu has always been about proving that Free Software can work for human beings (non-technical folks).
                          Installing non-free software by default would mean giving up on that dream.
                          We already have Mint for a group who supports this decision, let's keep Ubuntu's goals the same as how they started.

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                          • #14
                            Instead of asking Ubuntu to include non-free software (by default) how about we just encourage new Linux users to try Linux Mint instead?

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                            • #15
                              My 0.02

                              It is interesting to see the responses in this thread. Some people seem to think it would be an absolute disaster if non-free apps were not installed by default, whereas others seem to think it would be an absolute disaster if they were.

                              I think that there will be no great disaster either way, especially considering that the difference is just checking or unchecking a checkbox. And there are plenty of other distributions to go to if you really find the default setting too upsetting. From a technical point of view, having the checkbox is a great idea, and the default setting is a non-issue.

                              Behind the simple checkbox, however, are deep philosophical and strategic issues. As some people have already hinted at, many people will tend to see the default value as the officially endorsed or recommended value. Seen in that light, the question becomes: Does the Ubuntu project want to give people the idea that a pure free software setup is standard, and having non-free software is the exception? Or does the project want to give people the impression that having non-free software is normal and having only free software is the exception? For many people, one of these will feel right, whereas for other people, the other will feel right. This is a deep philosophical issue, hence the heated feelings on both sides.

                              The choice is also strategically important, because if free software is considered the norm, then it can be expected that work will be done to make the pure free software experience is as great as possible. If this requires the addition or improvement of free software alternatives for proprietary software, that is where the focus will be. On the other hand, if the inclusion of non-free software is the default, the improvement of free software will not seem as important. In that case, focus will be on making the partially non-free experience as great as possible.

                              Personally, I feel that the Board has made the right choice. This is partially because I like Ubuntu to be a showcase of what a 100% free software system can be like, but also because I think there are practical benefits. Free software isn't just a nice to have thing for users, but it also makes the distributors job easier: by definition, they are allowed to modify and redistribute the software, so they can do everything that is necessary to make sure it fits in and plays nicely with the rest of their system. This is something that Ubuntu excels at, and it is what has allowed Ubuntu to go from nowhere to the top Linux distribution in terms of popularity. It is their core advantage, and free software has made it possible. Non-free software tends to get in the way.

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