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Thread: How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

  1. #1
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    How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

    Hello Ubuntu Community,

    I have just read that Ubuntu is making a move towards proprietary software and packages. How will that affect those of us who want to use GNU/Free software alternatives?

    Is Ubuntu just offering the chance to install proprietary software seamlessly, or will there be a general shift towards better strains of Ubuntu for those who go the proprietary route?

    My source is Linux.com under 'Distribution News' "Proprietary Software and Linux: Good, Bad or Somewhere in Between?"
    "SO we bide our time, waiting for a purer kick to bloom... &the future is still bleak, uncertain and beautiful..." -GSYBE

  2. #2
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    Re: How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

    Quote Originally Posted by IKhider View Post
    How will that affect those of us who want to use GNU/Free software alternatives?
    It won't.

    You will still be free to make your choices.

  3. #3
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    Removing FOSS and substituting proprietary hurts developing or expanding nations

    There have been online discussion petitions before to try to get a native version of Photoshop for Linux since at least 2000, way before Ubuntu. If it were a matter of adding proprietary software for sale to the existing open source, then everything would be fairly safe.

    It's not. The move has had several problems so far as we see in Jaunty and Karmic, weakening the distro. Ubuntu has become popular, to make an understatement. It has been on its way to becoming the fladship distro as Red Hat once was, and might be again soon. A weakened flagship distro will not just hinder regional development but also the reputation of FOSS tools in general. It's like the old marketing scam of bait and switch. Some would say that is the goal of substituting proprietary software, rather than just adding it.

    mono

    Take the controversial and unpopular insistence on using mono, instead of open source like Java, is one example. That one wastes a lot of time, perhaps intentionally, and reduces the usefulness, reliability and functionality of what has been a flagship distro.

    http://tuxdeluxe.org/node/299
    http://blog.christophersmart.com/200...trap-evidence/
    http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic....90717043855128

    Again if it were a matter of adding to the distro, there would be little problem, practically speaking. But what's happening is a removal of very useful tools and this will hit developing and underdeveloped regions the most.

    discussion other proprietary

    The removal of GIMP is another example.

    A distraction has been offered by steering discussions to the mechanics of network package distribution. The unspoken assumption there is that all Ubuntu users and potential Ubuntu users have universal access to high speed broad band. That is missing a very large portion of the world's populations which, by all indications, appear to be making and implementing plans to use ICT regionally.

    Material not on the CD might as well not exist, when considering markets without good bandwidth. For these areas, what is on the default CD becomes what must be used, due to lack of anything else. What is not on the default CD might as well not exist. So, for example, removing an image editor means that digital photography is out and that the skill is unlikely to be either learned, taught or used to the advantage of the community because it is unavailable.

    These are regions which are beginning to grow rapidly, specifically Africa, Asia, and also rural and large parts of suburban North America. Yes, note that large portions of the US, even near major cities, do not have broadband or even decent mobile phone coverage. And this has not yet been mentioned in the debate is that the largest impact of the default CDs is in the regions largely without broadband or even serious dial-up access.

    Because of this real digital divide, the magnitude of the population affected over a period of three years make a significant global impact big. Guidance from a global organization working to advance a Global Information Society could greatly increase the efficacy in bridging or removing the "Digital Divide" sooner than later.

    • The primary audience to benefit from the default CD as a physical object is not online and is much larger than the audience that is online. So far all discussions appear to involve only the online audience.
    • Technologies that enable the free flow of ideas and ensure technological independence would have more benefit to the world economically, socially, industrially and scientifically than using the CDs as a vehicle for reduced function or, worse, vendor lock-in.
    • Freedom, quality and safety must take the forefront rather than trying to retrofit any and all FOSS projects into being copies of a vendor infamous for the opposites.


    What to do

    Sitting tight and being patient has stopped working, if ever once may have. There is great value in putting effort into new distros like gNewsense to backup or replace Ubuntu, but Ubuntu has great momentum and should not be either discarded because of a small batch of bad apples nor allowed to become a vehicle for anti-FOSS strategies and technologies.

    It is also not acceptable to listen to people mouthing vague promises who have so little regard for the experience and cognitive abilities of others that they would ask that we disregard the last decades of IT and IT politics.

    There are some problematic ideas regarding the choices for the default CD for Lucid Lynx, this next version. It will be a Long Term Support version, which means that these choices will be the default for the next thee years, for the desktop version, and five on the server.

    In areas where it is the First ICT to arrive, it will set the landscape for many, many years to come. It will shape how the users think about and use ICT for a very long time and they in turn will shape the usage and attitudes of the people they train or work with.

    Even for established areas with good broadband, what is on the default will set what will be used by the overwhelming majority. The antitrust cases in the 1990's showed that the majority, back then when computers were more tinkerer's objects, left the default settings. It is even more so the case now, as I have seen first hand with students paid to do such work, or anyone can see by asking people they see using computers.

    So good or bad, the impact of the LTS version will be significant. Some strong, assertive, corrective action is needed. Allowing proprietary software to be substituted or allowing useful tools to be removed will cause a mess. It's always possible to upgrade to Debian or Fedora. But it would be best of all to make a good distro better and have three top choices rather than only two.

  4. #4
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    Re: How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

    Many people would vote with their feet if an unfavourable overhaul were to take place.

    Calm down, you'll always have choice

  5. #5
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    Re: How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

    There is a wealth of proprietary software available for anyone who chooses to install it. The vendors of proprietary software are doing just fine without coralling a volunteer army into sell more stuff for them.

    Including proprietary software in a distribution, and including packages that have proprietary elements, weakens the distribution. There is no hazy grey line here - either it is freely distributable, or it should not be included by default.

    Individual can make proprietary choices for themselves, without having it enforced by the increasingly idiot-friendly noobuntu. There is nothing in the distribution preventing those choices, witness the explosion in (probably ripped-off) Windows software users under Wine.

  6. #6
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    Re: How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

    Are we talking simply some proprietary offerings as packages included by default (codecs, java, flash?) or including as part of the base linux system some proprietary technology?

    I like their original philosophy of all open source with my own choice to install the closed source packages I need. Why even stray from that?

  7. #7
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    Re: How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartN View Post
    There is nothing in the distribution preventing those choices, witness the explosion in (probably ripped-off) Windows software users under Wine.
    Yes, because everyone who uses linux is a pirate. Have fun with that.
    Bios Elemental - My Blog | Useful Ubuntu and WINE related help as well as general Geek Things.

  8. #8
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    Re: Removing FOSS and substituting proprietary hurts developing or expanding nations

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Noodén View Post
    .........
    So good or bad, the impact of the LTS version will be significant. Some strong, assertive, corrective action is needed. Allowing proprietary software to be substituted or allowing useful tools to be removed will cause a mess. It's always possible to upgrade to Debian or Fedora. But it would be best of all to make a good distro better and have three top choices rather than only two.
    If the argument is what is installed on the default CD - which is always an issue because of the fixed space limitation - then my response is: Get a life.

    Ubuntu is obviously designed for the mass market - that means people who want the most functionality immediately and don't really care about arcane arguments about non-GPL versus GPL software.

    If all the GPL packages are still available for on-line installation, then that is good enough for the vast majority of people these days who may want to retain their religious purity on this matter.

    It is arguments like this that have held back Linux from being a useful tool that the majority can use quickly versus something that forces people to follow the dictates of a cult.
    Regards, David.
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  9. #9
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    Re: How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

    How will the plan to distribute non-Free code in Ubuntu affect my ability to distribute the software for free (as in beer) to schools? I am currently supporting 4 schools with Ubuntu. I would hate to think that I have to switch to another distro due to non-Free blobs in Ubuntu.

  10. #10
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    Re: How will Ubuntu's move to proprietary software affect the free world?

    That's right proprietary software - funding free software. There is some kind of poetic justice.

    So I don't mind Ubuntu offering proprietary software, because they hire a lot of open source developers and I don't see that changing.
    Proud GNU/Linux zealot and lover of penguins
    "Value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history." --Richard Stallman

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