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

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Sat Oct 7 11:37:49 BST 2006

> > "Ubuntu is a free, open source Linux-based operating system"
> In this context (marketing to the general public), and without
> capitalizing the F in 'free', I think it's safe to assume that the
> intended message is 'no cost'.

I don't think free (as in cost) factors in to this equation. Being
free of charge is merely a side-effect of being open source
_SOMETIMES_*. It's not the reason for open source's existence.

*You are well within your rights as a licence holder (and we all are)
to sell the software and restrict distribution under certain
circumstances. The only condition is that you make any changes you
have made to the code base public (i.e. you must provide interested
parties with the code, free of charge).

Note: please correct my impression of binary rights if it's wrong.

> > Unlike many of the other commercial
> > distributions in the free and open source world, the Ubuntu team
> > really does believe that Free software should be free of software
> > licencing charges."
> See, free of licensing charges.  Indeed I don't plan to be paying for
> playing mp3 and dvd.

So, I guess you don't expect to be paid for your work? Or have to pay
for this week's Der Spiegel?

Just because you don't like something doesn't mean people don't
deserve to be remunerated for their work (even if people is merely a
metaphor for a conglomeration). You could have CSS-free DVDs. Of
course, with CSS-free DVDs there wouldn't really be a whole lot of
choice, now would there? CSS isn't a great tool to prevent piracy
anymore but it does slow things down markedly -- your run-of-the-mill
computer user isn't going to be able to 'rip' a DVD with great ease so
it's going to prevent a sizeable portion of the population from
borrowing their friends' DVDs and making perfect copies.

Separate e-mail...

On 06/10/06, Chanchao wrote:
> On Fri, 2006-10-06 at 03:16 -0600, Conrad Knauer wrote:
> > These freedoms make Ubuntu fundamentally different from traditional
> > proprietary software: not only are the tools you need available free
> > of charge, you have the right to modify your software until it works
> > the way you want it to."
> >
> > "the right to modify" ~~ Software Libre.
> This is getting pretty philosophical.. In rigidly pursuing absolute
> Freedom, people can't play their music without jumping through hoops..

One of the most important elements of FL/OSS (freedom-libre/open
source software) is that the licence under which the code is released
be respected. This courtesy applies to ALL licences, whether they are
corporate or privately held and licenced selectively (WHICH IS
ENTIRELY UP TO THE LICENCE HOLDER) or whether they are made available
for all to use.

If one wants to 'steal'/misappropriate a licence, I suppose it is
one's prerogative. However, it is a violation of the terms of the
licence, and, if certain members of the general public are willing to
violate the terms and conditions of that licence, why should anyone
respect the licences of individuals/groups/corporations (i/g/c) that
have made their work available under an open source model? What is to
prevent an i/g/c from taking open source software, using it to build
the latest-greatest software and deny anyone else access to the code
as required under the terms and conditions of the open source licence
under which the code was distributed?

How's that for philosophical ;-)?

Anyway, as for a slightly different tangent...

Ubuntu is designed to be fully unencumbered of restrictions.
Inevitably there are some which MUST be tolerated but only to the
point where they are needed to support a particular situation (e.g.
video card drivers).

The ability to play MP3s is NOT something that falls into this
category since the use of MP3 _IS_ restricted and IS NOT IMPORTANT.
It's "nice to have", but, for the most part people don't NEED it on
their computers (pirates aside). If you purchase music in MP3 format,
that's your tough luck -- YOU made the decision. If you 'rip' a CD
into MP3 format -- that's your DECISION. If your friend sent you an
MP3 of her latest creation -- that's still your tough luck.

If you use Linux (Ubuntu) to edit music/audio, you'd be a fool to use
MP3s. Why degrade sound quality with a compressed format? If you use
an audio-recorder that records only in MP3 -- again, that's YOUR
decision/tough luck!

Anyway, basically my tirade comes down to this: it's not good enough
to want or need to do something that is of your own making. The
individual user needs to take responsibility for their actions, and,
that includes abiding by licencing restrictions and intellectual
property rights.

I fully agree with making Ubuntu the easiest, most user-friendly and
useful operating system available (bringing computing to humanity),
however, it must do so with a CLEAN CONSCIENCE and it cannot do so if
it selectively ignores others' rights!!!

Just because "Windows can do it" is not a good enough reason for
Ubuntu to do it if Microsoft (for example) has gone to the expense of
licencing an idea or reserving the IP rights for a particular idea!!!

Well, I'm sure this post will irk a few open source fanatics (mostly
those who blindly believe that all IP rights should be voided and 'ta
hell with licences'*), but, I hope it's an adequate enough a rant to
get some brain cells firing in some people!

*Selectively ignoring IP rights is not a viable way to build a
FREE-LIBRE way of computing -- it undermines the integrity of FL/OSS.

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