Freespire's Google ads: "What is Ubuntu Missing?"

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Tue Oct 3 12:50:44 BST 2006

On 03/10/06, Alexander Jacob Tsykin <stsykin at> wrote:
> On Tuesday 03 October 2006 20:47, Paul Sladen wrote:
> > On Tue, 3 Oct 2006, Alexander Jacob Tsykin wrote:
> > > > Whatever distribution or window-manager a machine is running, that's
> > > > still one more Free [GNU/Linux] desktop in the wild than there was
> > > > before. People should be applauded for that.
> > >
> > > Except that it is not a free desktop if it comes with proprietary
> > > software installed, like proprietary multimedia codecs
> >
> > Sure, and by the time you've manually installed the 'w32codecs', or
> > 'nvidia-glx' on Ubuntu then---that's in the same league.
> >
> > Freespire could be a halfway step in the right-direction.
> I merely observed that you cannot really call this a free desktop,

If you cannot call Freespire a 'free desktop' then neither can you
call Ubuntu a 'free desktop' for, as someone else points out, you must
install w32codecs and nvidia-glx to support proprietary formats and
specific hardware.

There is in fact EXTREMELY little difference, conceptually, between
Ubuntu and Freespire. Both are based on open source software. Neither
REQUIRES proprietary software to function -- Freespire provides and
HIGHLIGHTS a full 'open source'-only version for the "free software
purist" (I might be slightly modifying the wording of that quote).

The primary difference is that Freespire offers the OPTION to install
proprietary software that is 100% illegal if it were done through the
'open source' model. In most jurisdictions to which members of these
lists belong playing DVDs without an appropriate licence is illegal.

> not that it
> is a bad thing. I happen to disagree with it, because I prefer software to be
> free,

Unfortunately most of the tempest in this particular teapot does not
stem from such a clearly articulated dislike of the notion of
proprietary software/formats (as you put forth) but, instead the
tempest is because of dislike of the company itself and the
fabrication of "facts" regarding said companies behaviour.

> and so I prefer, in principle, the slight extra difficulty of
> installing any proprietary software I might use, which si very little and
> does not include w32codecs and nvidia-glx, but the fact remains that what you
> are describing is not, and cannot be said to be, a free desktop, in the free
> and open source software sense.

It IS "a fully free desktop, in the free and open source software
sense". It seems like there is absolutely no requirement that you use
the so-called "non-free" components, just like there's no requirement
in Ubuntu that you use w32codecs, nvidia-glx, RealPlayer, etc.

Ah well, it seems that FUD is alive and well, even when it's not FUD
directed against M$.

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