Invitation to ubuntu developers

Tim Schmidt timschmidt at
Wed Nov 29 04:20:11 GMT 2006

On 11/28/06, Matt Zimmerman <mdz at> wrote:
> I'm not sure who you mean to represent with this statement, but it isn't the
> stated position of the Ubuntu project.  That is documented at
>, and is substantially less explicit
> than your characterization.  The language in question is "...we recognise
> that in some cases binary drivers are the only way to make your hardware
> work. As a result, Ubuntu includes several of these drivers...".
> "Work" is vague at best, and this proposal is one way in which it could be
> clarified.

Sorry I didn't quote the stated language verbatim...

"...we recognise that in some cases binary drivers are the only way to
make your hardware work."  implies that without the binary driver,
your hardware doesn't work.  At all.  The work / doesn't work boolean
literally doesn't leave any room whatsoever for "works for 2D" or
"doesn't do WPA".  Hence the fairly harsh statement.  (sorry).

As stated previously, I'm all for making non-free drivers easily
installable (assuming they do something the Free ones don't - which
should be obvious anyway).  So long as end-users are informed before
making the choice to use them, at a minimum that they may be less
secure, and can't effectively be supported (mainly for the sake of

A bonus would be a link or example of a similar piece of hardware that
has Free drivers (surprisingly, it can be _very_ hard to do the
required research to find hardware that will work with Free software -
it's not  proselytizing so much as being helpful).

Anyway...  Good word lawyering on the licensing page.  The philosophy
page is still pretty clear though.

"Every computer user should have the freedom to run, copy, distribute,
study, share, change and improve their software for any purpose..."


"... we are working to ensure that every single piece of software you
need is available under a licence that gives you those freedoms.
Currently, we make a specific exception for some "drivers" which are
only available in binary form, without which many computers will not
complete the Ubuntu installation."

That seems to suggest the binary drivers are going away...  not
getting pushed into main, and installed by default.  :)


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