Not a bash, just the facts

Alan McKinnon alan at
Fri Mar 24 12:55:41 UTC 2006

On Friday 24 March 2006 05:56, Chanchao wrote:
> On Thu, 2006-03-23 at 14:25 +0200, Alan McKinnon wrote:


> > > I wasn't kidding when I called this rediculous!! :)
> >
> > I think you are trolling.
> I will admit this topic is a personal pet peeve and not directly
> related to providing user support. I do however consider it an
> urgent and important issue, one that can make Ubuntu a lot
> better/friendlier when addressed, and as such I don't consider it
> trolling.

So suggest something better that stays within the rules. 

Sun says "You may download the JDK from our site if you wish, but may 
not redistribute it. You may download a JRE from the same site, and 
may redistribute it, according to this list of conditions: <list>."

Those are Sun's conditions, not Ubuntu's. To do what you say you want, 
Ubuntu would have to break those conditions. So, they don't.

The owner of the mp3 patents says "You may use this format and 
technology IF you pay us $BIG_NUMBER first". That's his conditions, 
not Ubuntu's

> > Either that or you don't understand Linux and/or package
> > managers.
> Perhaps not, perhaps I do. The point is though that my mum and my
> sister FOR SURE don't understand Linux and package managers, but
> ARE otherwise qualified enough to use computers and I can see
> Ubuntu getting real close to where they can comfortably switch
> over.  But not until it plays their music and videos and shows
> fancier websites out of the box. (or almost out of the box)

This is not a technical problem, is is a legal one. It's not the 
distro that has to change to fix this, you have to change the society 
and the legal system. 

> (Note objectively that a lot of the restricted formats require
> going OUTSIDE the package manager to install them. I accept that a
> package manager is a core part of using Ubuntu and that my mum
> would need to learn to use it IF she wants to install new software.
>  My issue is not with the concept of package managers, which I
> think are great.)

Again, suggest a better alternative. The problem is the conditions 
that the owners of said formats apply to redistribution of their 
property. Perhaps you are willing to pay their license fees from your 
own pocket, or take total personal responsibility for the legal 
consequences of breaking the rules? No? Well, neither is Mark and his 
team of developers.

I see you don't like the current situation. The solution is to assist 
the FSF and other bodies who are working to change the system. Until 
they succeed you have to stay within the system.

> > Sun's download bundle contains the JRE files. For security
> > reasons, and because it's damn good policy, the contained files
> > do not have the executable bit set. You have to do that manually.
> > Install into /opt and away you go.
> Great policy.  However when doing such things I think the immediate
> next step always HAS to be to allow users to do this easily and
> graphically. Like inform them this is an executable file, that they
> have to trust the source it came from, at which point they can
> authorize making it executable through a checkbox or button.  
> Asking users to open terminals and doing chmods and chowns and
> chgrps is a non-starter, for a desktop installation, quite
> obviously.  I can tell you right now my mum won't use it if she has
> to go into terminals for ANYTHING.  If the majority of the Ubuntu
> people are comfortable with my mum not using it and only people
> like you and me using it, then I can accept that, too.

Great idea. Now implement it. Go on, try it. 

I have downloaded many GB of software from Sun for 10 years. In EVERY 
bundle, the executable bit was never set on the extraction script and 
it has to be changed manually. That's Sun's policy, it's how they do 

If you want the easy route of just installing a JRE into /opt/ then 
you need a terminal because SUN BUILT IT TO WORK THAT WAY. They don't 
distribute a .deb or a .msi. There is no known way for Ubuntu to 
automagically detect that you are extracting a JRE bundle and take 
specific action.

If you want the benefit of package management, then you need to build 
a .deb (because Sun doesn't provide one, and they are picky about how 
the JRE is redistributed - meaning that Ubuntu can't provide you with 
a ready packaged .deb). Build .debs is a complex affair as you can 
see from the Wiki page.

Rocks and hard places.

> She IS a human being though, so I'm led to believe that she's
> included.

Think this whole problem through and analyse all it's ramifications. 
Then spot what really needs to be fixed, putting aside your 
frustrations about getting mp3s to play. The problem is societal, 
legal and political - not technical. We can tweak the installation 
process a bit here and there but to give your Mum what you want means 
that we have to achieve the aims of the FSF.

Alan McKinnon
alan at linuxholdings dot co dot za
+27 82, double three seven, one nine three five

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