Is Ubuntu commited to free software?

John King kingj.linuxmlsts at
Wed Jun 9 22:22:01 UTC 2010

I would assume that he's referring to the fact that some people wouldn't want to have or care about MP3 playback because it's a patented format. I've seen Ubuntu users whose entire music library exists in non-patented formats like Vorbis and FLAC.

Guthro <guthro at> wrote:

>>I understand that for many, "wouldn't play mp3s" is considered a
>>feature, not a bug.
>Could you explain why anyone thinks that? hanks.
>On 6/9/2010 4:59 PM, Travis Beaty wrote:
>> Hello.  I'm usually a lurker on the list, but I feel a bit compelled to
>> jump into the fray here.
>> On Wed, 2010-06-09 at 16:49 -0400, John King wrote:
>>> Ubuntu is targeted at a more mainstream user; that user more than likely wants his computer to
>>> just work, even if that means proprietary software and/or binary blobs. One of those driver
>>> blobs could mean the difference between 'Happy Ubuntu Convert' and 'Failed Ubuntu Convert'.
>>> Trisquel is aimed at a user who is uncompromising in his/her pursuit of complete software
>>> freedom; IMO a great goal and one that we should all work towards, but not one that really
>>>   encompasses the average computer user at this point.
>> I'm the guy he's talking about here.  Although I've now been using Linux
>> long enough that I feel myself to be somewhere on the low side of
>> intermediate in terms of what goes on under the hood, I feel that I'm a
>> bit rare in that I didn't come to Linux because it was "open source
>> software," but rather because it was "free as in beer."  And actually,
>> believe it or not, it wasn't technically free from a wallet perspective.
>> I bought a copy of Mandrake from the clearance rack at Walmart for, I
>> want to say, US$10 for something like that.
>> In fact, I didn't even know (or care at the time) about open source
>> software, GPL, Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, or anything else about
>> the open source or Linux world.  But what I did know was the Windows ME
>> on the machine I had bought was an epic fail, and I couldn't find
>> Windows 98 anywhere.  So, to be blunt, I said "what the hell," grabbed
>> the box with the penguin on it, and the rest is history.
>> UNTIL I found Ubuntu, I had a love/hate relationship with Linux, where I
>> would use it, go back to Windows, back to another distro, back to
>> Windows, lather, rinse, and repeat.  Ninety percent of the time, each of
>> these iterations in the cycle was caused by something that just didn't
>> work.  Graphics didn't work right.  Network card wouldn't be seen.  And
>> it wouldn't play mp3s.
>> Now, I understand that for many, "wouldn't play mp3s" is considered a
>> feature, not a bug.  But ... for the mainstream user just coming over
>> from the Windows world, not being able to play mp3s, or not being able
>> to play DVDs equals *broke*.  After all, they worked in Windows, but not
>> Linux.  To them, it is not a matter of free vs. proprietary, nor is it a
>> matter of closed source vs. open source.
>> It's a matter of works vs. broke.  And as a mainstream user, I went
>> through a ton of "broke" distros.  I was even more frustrated with SuSE,
>> when, in order to listen to mp3s, I had to add another independently
>> maintained repo to yast, which completely hosed yast.  And so, I went
>> back to Windows.
>> Now then.  Having been involved in the Linux society and culture, I
>> understand why closed-source software is shunned.  However, I also see
>> that, at this juncture, it is often necessary to make things work.
>> Right now, I've got a wireless driver and a graphics driver that are
>> proprietary.  I know this because the Device Manager told me.  I also
>> have the restricted extras package installed.
>> But Ubuntu works, and I've stuck with it ever since.  It works.  I can't
>> repeat that enough.  IT.  WORKS.  In my experience with Linux, I've
>> noticed that over time, open source solutions to close sourced problems
>> pop up, given enough eyeballs.  Perhaps those are eyeballs like mine,
>> the folks that see Ubuntu as a shining star because it works, and are
>> coaxed into realizing the advantages of open source software.  I believe
>> you attract a lot more people if you give them something that works, but
>> say "We believe this is a problem because it works, but it's closed
>> source.  Can you help?"
>> It's better to walk along the fence line with folks who are new to
>> Linux, as opposed to pelting them with rocks from fifty feet away and
>> saying "If you want this to work, throw rocks with us."  And honestly, I
>> think one of the greatest issues that Linux, as an operating system, is
>> struggling with right now is not the proprietary developers in front of
>> it, but the wild fanatics behind it shooting it in the back of the head,
>> yelling "Give me free or give me death."
>> So, yes, I am committed to free software.  But I also know the carrot
>> works better than the stick, and the better it works out of the gate,
>> the more eyeballs you have to open things up even more.
>> Just my twelve cents.  Your mileage may vary.  And so forth.
>> - Travis.
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