Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Is Ubuntu committed to free software?

Of course we are! At least according to our philosophy.

Still, many people don't think that Ubuntu is truly committed to free software in practice. I raised an interesting debate which took place on the Anarchism Reddit about whether it is better to be a purist or not. It started out by talking about Facebook and moved on to Ubuntu. The purist side made a very good argument with this:
If Ubuntu made a point of saying how non-free software was bad, and offered ways to easily purge all non-free software from one's system, that would be different. But they don't.
This sentiment seems very reasonable to me, and people who feel this way can and should be our allies. The concerns are valid and not difficult to appease, so to act in accordance with our philosophy, we should make a couple simple changes to Ubuntu:
  1. Offer a way to easily purge all non-free software from one's system. 
    • This would require supporting the Linux-libre kernel (it doesn't have to be default, but the option should be available)
  2. Make a point of saying why and how non-free software was bad, but also why the option is given to install it
    • This would need to be shown every time Ubuntu recommends proprietary software like restricted drivers

Simple as that! I'm sending an email to the devel-dicuss list now.

For those interested in the "to be or not to be a purist" debate, the crux of the argument for me, as someone who does support Ubuntu, is here: