Ubuntu Board Votes On Non-Free Software Option
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 25 March 2011 at 12:31 PM EDT. 102 Comments
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.

As a result, this issue of whether Ubuntu should install non-free software by default was brought to Ubuntu's Technical Board yesterday. Pre-selecting this option in the Ubuntu installer would then download the various ubuntu-restricted packages as part of a default installation when network connectivity is available. It could even be to the point of including the proprietary graphics drivers by default.

Canonical's legal counsel had given provisional approval to carry out this change, but the Ubuntu Technical Board has decided to not go through with this installation change. From yesterday's Technical Board meeting minutes:
The Technical Board voted unanimously against (0 for, 5 against) including non-free software in the distribution, agreeing that checking a box in the installer by default is equivalent to simply including the software in the default installation. 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

Read the bug report though to see the various views expressed by some of the stakeholders in the Ubuntu community.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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