12.18.06

Gemini version available ♊︎

Freedom vs. Features – Ubuntu’s Search for Bling

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, GPL, Ubuntu, Vista, Windows at 4:04 pm by Shane Coyle

While I fully understand the intent and frustration behind the whole no proprietary blobs in the kernel argument, it wouldn’t have had the desired effect – the GPL does not exclude the loading of closed modules, just the distribution with such modules, as I understand it anyhow.

Which, brings me to this: Jono Bacon has a posting in which he is arguing for the community to compromise its commitment to freedom so that distributions (Ubuntu) can ship 3D accelerated desktops that compete, very favorably, with Mac and Windows. Bacon makes the argument that, without bling, Linux will be relegated to a niche OS and never able to achieve world domination.

What I believe is critically important is that we never stop fighting for Open Source 3D graphics drivers. A comprimise in freedom in part of the wider Linux distribution needs to be backed up with a confidence that the freedom will continue to be the priority as market share grows. The key difference here is our approach to getting this freedom – it will only happen with market pressure. The fight for free drivers for reasons of freedom has not proved successful, and the choice to only buy Intel will have some impact, but not a huge impact due to lower market share. We need to become a large and relavent player, a player that can mandate decisions at a market level that will truly affect the market. Sure, there are plenty of challenges to this approach – when we get a large market share, would Linux distributions really want to rock the boat and demand Open Source drivers? Well, this is the proof of the pudding. I expect companies such as Canonical, Red Hat, Linspire and Novell to always place consistant market pressure on the hardware manufacturors to understand and migrate to the ethos of free software.

I am all for bling, beryl is fantastic, and I have no problem with users installing proprietary drivers – wireless, raid, graphics, on their own machine(s). Actually, lsmod on this laptop shows the fglrx module is loaded. I personally couldn’t care less about market share for GNU/Linux, but fully respect those who do – as long as they play within the rules (Hoooray! Red Hat, Boooo! Novell).

The GPL is not an EULA, it is a distribution license, I can do what I like with the software on my machine, including making a bastardized GNU/proprietary system tuned just the way I like it, with whatever I need to best support my hardware. But if I wanted to distribute the software as such, I wouldn’t be able to do so under the GPL, I could contact all of the authors and try to work out alternate licensing, but not under the GPL, again as I understand it.

I do agree that only market pressure will force the proprietary drivers to open up, but if Ubuntu and other distributions take the annoyance away from the end user, there will be no market backlash. The fact that users need to go through extra steps to enable multimedia and 3D support is lamentable, but it is the only way that people would become aware of the issue and exert any pressure on the manufacturers.

Regardless, as I see it, Ubuntu cannot ship the proprietary drivers and abide by the GPL. It is not a question of compromising ideals, but rather violating the license that allows you to redistribute other’s work. I thought that the Kororaa thing brought this out and clarified it, but now we have Sabayon (an awesome distro, sorry to call them out) and Ubuntu heading down the same precipitous path.

Why is it so bad to include it in the unofficial, but obligatory, Automatix? Or, after first boot presenting the user with an option to improve the graphics/networking performance by downloading a "better" driver for the detected hardware.

So, users are a short nag screen and a few clicks from GUI heaven, it still didn’t cost anyone their liberty or violate anyone’s copyright. You can even put in a button for sending a nastygram to the detected closed-source vendor’s ombudsman office asking them to open up their specs or drivers.

Maybe that would have the desired effect.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. [Teaser] Meet Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot, Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley

    Alex Graveley, a serial abuser, has been protected by Microsoft; what does that say about Microsoft and about Nat Friedman, GitHub’s CEO whom Alex considers his "best friend"? Stay tuned as we have plenty more to show



  2. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, December 07, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, December 07, 2021



  3. Links 8/12/2021: FreeBSD 12.3, EasyOS 3.1.13, and WordPress 5.9 Beta 2

    Links for the day



  4. [Meme] EU Assurances

    The EPO‘s staff cannot be blamed for losing patience as elected public representatives completely fail to do their job (with few exceptions)



  5. Clare Daly (GUE/NGL) Does What Every Public Official in Europe Should Have Done About EPO Shenanigans

    There’s another (new) push to hold the EPO accountable, seeing that the overseers clearly do not do their job and instead cover up the abuses



  6. Links 7/12/2021: Firefox 96 Beta and Fedora 37 Abandons ARMv7

    Links for the day



  7. Links 7/12/2021: Plasma Mobile Gear 21.12 and Tails 4.25

    Links for the day



  8. All IRC Logs Now Available as GemText Over Gemini Protocol

    Today we've completed the transition from plain text over gemini:// to GemText over gemini:// for IRC logs



  9. IRC Proceedings: Monday, December 06, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, December 06, 2021



  10. [Meme] Rowing to the Bottom of the Ocean

    The EPO‘s Steve Rowan (VP1) is failing EPO staff and sort of “firing” workers during times of crisis (not at all a crisis to the EPO’s coffers)



  11. EPO Gradually Reduced to 'Fee Collection Agency' Which Eliminates Its Very Own Staff

    Mr. Redundancies and Mr. Cloud are outsourcing EPO jobs to Microsoft and Serco as if the EPO is an American corporation, providing no comfort to long-serving EPO staff



  12. Linux Foundation 2021 Annual Report Made on an Apple Mac Using Proprietary Software

    Yes, you’re reading this correctly. They still reject both “Linux” and “Open Source” (no dogfooding). This annual report is badly compressed; each page of the PDF is, on average, almost a megabyte in size (58.8 MB for a report of this scale is unreasonable and discriminates against people in countries with slow Internet connections); notice how they’re milking the brand in the first page (straight after the cover page, the 1991 ‘creation myth’, ignoring GNU); remember that this foundation is named after a trademark which is not even its own!



  13. Links 7/12/2021: OpenIndiana Hipster 2021.10 and AppStream 0.15

    Links for the day



  14. Microsoft “Defender” Pretender Attacks Random Software That Uses NSIS for installation; “Super Duper Secure Mode” for Edge is a Laugh

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  15. Links 6/12/2021: LibreOffice Maintenance Releases, Firefox 95 Finalised

    Links for the day



  16. “Wintel” “Secure” uEFI Firmware Used to Store Persistent Malware, and Security Theater Boot is Worthless

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  17. No Linux Foundation IRS Disclosures Since 2018

    The publicly-available records or IRS information about the Linux Foundation is suspiciously behind; compared to other organisations with a "tax-exempt" status the Linux Foundation is one year behind already



  18. Jim Zemlin Has Deleted All of His Tweets

    The Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin seems to have become rather publicity-shy (screenshots above are self-explanatory; latest snapshot), but years ago he could not contain his excitement about Microsoft, which he said was "loved" by what it was attacking. Days ago it became apparent that Microsoft’s patent troll is still attacking Linux with patents and Zemlin’s decision to appoint Microsoft as the At-Large Director (in effect bossing Linus Torvalds) at the ‘Linux’ Foundation’s Board of Directors is already backfiring. She not only gets her whole salary from Microsoft but also allegedly protects sexual predators who assault women… by hiring them despite repeated warnings; if the leadership of the ‘Linux’ Foundation protects sexual predators who strangle women (even paying them a salary and giving them management positions), how can the ‘Linux’ Foundation ever claim to represent inclusion and diversity?



  19. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IX — Microsoft's Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley has warrant for his arrest, albeit only after a lot of harm and damage had already been done (to multiple people) and Microsoft started paying him



  20. The Committee on Patent Law (PLC) Informed About Overlooked Issues “Which Might Have a Bearing on the Validity of EPO Patents.”

    In a publication circulated or prepared last week the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO explains a situation never explored in so-called 'media' (the very little that's left of it)



  21. Links 6/12/2021: HowTos and Patents

    Links for the day



  22. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 05, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 05, 2021



  23. Gemini Space/Protocol: Taking IRC Logs to the Next Level

    Tonight we begin the migration to GemText for our daily IRC logs, having already made them available over gemini://



  24. Links 6/12/2021: Gnuastro 0.16 and Linux 5.16 RC4

    Links for the day



  25. Links 5/12/2021: Touchpad Gestures in XWayland

    Links for the day



  26. Society Needs to Take Back Computing, Data, and Networks

    Why GemText needs to become 'the new HTML' (but remain very simple) in order for cyberspace to be taken away from state-connected and military-funded corporations that spy on people and abuse society at large



  27. [Meme] Meanwhile in Austria...

    With lobbyists-led leadership one might be led to believe that a treaty strictly requiring ratification by the UK is somehow feasible (even if technically and legally it's moot already)



  28. The EPO's Web Site is a Parade of Endless Lies and Celebration of Gross Violations of the Law

    The EPO's noise site (formerly it had a "news" section, but it has not been honest for about a decade) is a torrent of lies, cover-up, and promotion of crimes; maybe the lies are obvious for everybody to see (at least EPO insiders), but nevertheless a rebuttal seems necessary



  29. The Letter EPO Management Does Not Want Applicants to See (or Respond to)

    A letter from the Munich Staff Committee at the EPO highlights the worrying extent of neglect of patent quality under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; the management of the EPO did not even bother replying to that letter (instead it was busy outsourcing the EPO to Microsoft)



  30. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 04, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, December 04, 2021


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts