development tools and non-free drviers

Michael Shigorin mike at
Tue Dec 20 09:40:10 GMT 2005

On Tue, Dec 20, 2005 at 02:19:56AM -0700, Scott wrote:
> The "build essential" package is a tad bewildering to a number
> of users new to Ubuntu, but not to Linux.  Why?  Because
> they've not used a Linux distribution that didn't include GCC
> or make in the default installation.  I was chatting with a
> Fedora Core 4 user recently and he said something to the effect
> that it was "lame and inexcusable" that Ubuntu didn't include
> these in the default installation.

Well it's his own lame problem that Fedora user needs gcc that
bad anyways ;)

> That came up when I was raving about how awesome U/Kubuntu is.

Developer-wise, it seems not.  Hint: create DVD images so that
local folks doing burn-mail business could also ship universe,
not only the install CD.  Would be good to roll 'em out in sync
with next release but somebody could as well arrange for 5.x

I've recently talked to a person in a local newsgroup who asked
how to install software on Ubuntu.  He was disabled at the moment 
(broken leg, so couldn't get anywhere to toss somewhat massive
package amounts by a disk) and owning only a dialup connection 
so fetching really lots of packages would be out of question 
to him.

Being able to grab "contribs" or whatever, apt-cdrom it and 
go ahead would help a lot.

I suppose in Africa, India and quite a few other places in the
world there are people who just can't pull a gig off internet.

> That was practically the first thing out of his mouth.  He said
> he "refused" to give a distro a glance that didn't come with
> GCC and make.

Well let him grow up.

> I thought it was a bit over the top, but he does make (no pun
> intended) a good point.  To the best of my knowledge, we're not
> even talking about 10 mb worth of files here. I would
> "build-essential" could easily be included in the default
> installation.

I think it's a "political" decision, similar to that of not
including even tiny development tools into ALT Linux Compact 
(which is single-CD OEM/desktop).  It's because the basic tools
are basically useless without companion ones and a (varying)
bunch of libraries, and there's just no clear stop point to set
but at the clear start on this way.

Actually Compact (while being called Junior back then) had gcc
and kernel-headers for compiling softmodem drivers but later the
company arranged for including them into distribution (with
agreements letting to redistribute stuff as long as the whole
software collection is under the same name of ALT Linux).

I know (and acknowledge) the decision by Canonical not to do that
-- maybe someone would do kind of business building on top of
that, being able to choose "practicality" over "principles".
Principles are good long-term (hence the acknowledgement) but
"users could strive without hardware drivers which just aren't
open yet" is hurting right now.  Downloading fglrx is quite 
a pain for people like mentioned above.

Oh well.

 ---- WBR, Michael Shigorin <mike at>
  ------ Linux.Kiev

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