Suggestions for Ubuntu Article

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Fri Jun 10 16:44:27 UTC 2005

On 6/10/05, Chanchao <custom at> wrote:
> Hello Matthias,
> Friday, June 10, 2005, 3:14:56 PM, you wrote:
> MH> In the ubuntu documentation there are various references how to
> MH> install mp3 players, DVD support, win codecs, etc.  It's just
> MH> unpleasant (and inefficient!) to wade through it and spend time doing
> MH> things by hand that should work automagically.
> MH> I wonder if it would be possible to provide a script
> MH> "install_restricted" that does the necessary stuff.
> MH> E.g. it would ask the user which application he wants and then make
> MH> the necessary changes to apt/sources and call aptitude install or wget
> MH> or something.  This would happen after installation and with an
> MH> appropriate warning message printed.
> Yes, I agree. It's VERY discouraging for new users to try things out
> and find out they can't play music and can't watch video. I know it's
> one of the first things I tried myself. Also the name of the page
> "Restricted formats" is not exactly a phrase people are likely to
> Google for, or rings a bell when that page pops up after Googling
> "Ubuntu MP3 playback" or some such.
> So I guess at the very least an explanation note should come up either
> after installation and/or when running music or video players for the
> first time.  (A "HEY PSSST!! want MP3? DVD?"-pop-up :)

If Canonical were to do that they would be treading on thin ice.
There's little difference from a legal POV between directing a user to
the source of software violating patents and/or laws and providing the
user with that software directly.

TerraSoftSolutions (YellowDogLinux for PPC) doesn't even allow
discussion of lame and other such patent-violating software on their
lists, that's how defensive they are (of course, they are based in the
US). Until the relevant patents expire Canonical would be wise to
avoid the whole issue of MP3 (unless they're willing to pony up the
cash for the relevant licences).

That said, there's nothing preventing a person or company located in a
country not subject to those particular patent restrictions (and not
doing business in a country where the patent restrictions are in
place) from setting up an easy-to-install script for Ubuntu for MP3
playback. And, if you're brave or understand the nuances of patent
law, you could always do it in a country where the patents are in

> Same for this whole universe/multiverse thing.. Users really don't
> care: things are 'free' when stuff doesn't pop up a page to enter
> credit card details. That's plenty free enough for most of us, and
> these things just shouldn't be hidden like this.

Multiverse/universe being DISABLED by default is a QA (quality
assurance) issue. Stuff in main is subject to a minimum standard of
trouble-shooting and/or bug fix/security fix updates. This way Ubuntu
can build a repository of software that is *known* to work well and
that most users need. Extras can be added through Synaptic, but it
shouldn't be *too* easy (it also shouldn't be too difficult). Perhaps
a dialogue box warning the user about the "dangers" of
universe/multiverse would be sufficient to keep Ubuntu's good name

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