Suggestions for Ubuntu Article

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Sat Jun 11 15:34:03 UTC 2005

On 6/11/05, Chanchao <custom at> wrote:
> On Fri, 2005-06-10 at 16:28 +0200, Erik Bågfors wrote:

> > So just because you are not paying for support, you shouldn't receive
> > any? That's not a good way to make ubuntu popular.  Let's not go down
> > that road.
> >
> > How do you define "none commercial Linux" btw? Are you saying that
> > ubuntu is not commercial??
> That's what I thought..?  I downloaded it for free anyway. You mean
> there's a catch?

No catch. The software is all "free" (as in speech, human rights, etc)
and the source is available for all to see.

As for the second level of quoting (written by Erik?): "So just
because ... not paying for support you shouldn't receive any?". I'm
not sure about the context of that statement but Canonical has
provided an AMAZING level of support FOR FREE (beer) without ANY
strings attached. You can't expect them to hold your hand or respond
to ANY queries unless you pony up some cash (I must like ponies...
been using that term a lot). The most you can expect them to do (and,
even that they do not have to do but they generously do) is provide
*some* documentation and a forum for discussion (which they do very
successfully). Canonical doesn't make money by upselling or selling
advertisements. That is not their business model so the standard *I
want* demands we can place on Real (for e.g. since they get cash from
adverts or upselling) don't quite apply.

> Anyway, I'm getting distracted:  I think Ubuntu should play mp3's and
> DVDs, OR include seriously simple instructions on how to add it.  If
> they can host instructions on how to do it then they can also go all the
> way and put a link on the desktop with some easy clickable links to add
> mpeg, mp3 support.

It would be *nice* if they could, but there's absolutely NO need for
such a feature since it's not something that you need to use a
computer -- remember, a computer and an OS are tools to help you do
things, not ways to enslave you to a keyboard, a piece of glass (or
whatever an LCD is made of) and a pointing device.

The other response I have to "I think Ubuntu should play mp3s and DVDs
or include simple instructions..." is a two parter:

1. It's pretty simple. Canonical CANNOT LEGALLY provide MP3 playback
or encoding or DVD (CSS) playback without PAYING the appropriate
rights holders for the right to do so. We've got lots of people who
are righteously indignant about the fact that they'd have to PAY to
get access to patents but this is the way things have functioned
(quite well, in fact) for the past 100 or so years, and there's a
pretty simple solution -- USE SOMETHING ELSE. If you don't like it,
don't steal, there are alternatives! That's the hipocracy and FLOSS'
dirty little secret of running MP3 on a FLOSS operating system.
Individuals are claiming the principles of sharing and openness in
software and are demanding respect for these principles from the wider
community, but, in turn they are and not showing others respect for
their decisions (a lot of MP3s out there are not of music that has
been paid for by the person who has the MP3s).

Granted, IP patents are not well thought out yet, BUT, CSS and MP3
(whatever MP3's technical name is) are not overly ambiguous and are
not bad patents and their enforcement is not unreasonable either
(one-click by Amazon is a bad patent, however for e.g.).

2. Canonical cannot provide instructions on how to install MP3 or DVD
playback/encoding because that would be an illegal act too -- they
would be facilitating patent violation and would be subject to
royalties and penalties as if they themselves distributed the

So, unless Canonical decides to pony up the cash to pay for all those
Ubuntu users to use MP3s Canonical, and Ubuntu (and ALL distros) by
extension, MUST avoid ANY and ALL reference as to how to install MP3
or DVD (CSS ENCRYPTED) playback/encoding software.

If they were going to spend scarce financial resources on MP3 playback
I'd be rather miffed -- I'd rather see them spend that cash on
programmers who can fix bugs and improve OpenOffice or the GNOME
interface. Of course, in the end it would be Canonical's (ahem,
Shuttleworth's ;-) decision and, if they felt they could capture
enough market share by providing MP3 and/or DVD playback for free (as
in beer, not speech) they're welcome to do so (I just will be
grumbling about wasted $$$ or £££ or rand or Euro that could've been
spent making Ubuntu (Linux) better).

Anyway, get out enjoy the beautiful weather (assuming it's beautiful
where you are... we're hitting 30 today in Toronto :)


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