What is wrong with the world?

Why is there only non-free software in this? GNOME is free software, we promote, we dream and we advocate free software. This’d not be on by default, please?

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23 Responses to What is wrong with the world?

  1. Patrick Hallinan says:

    What is a user supposed to do when they want to play a video for which there is no legal alternative?

  2. Legal is pretty much always interpreted as “legal in the US”. This is false for any other country in the world. For many countries, legal alternatives exist, and are available as free software, usually even under the LGPL (particularly ffmpeg).

    If we forget the freedom that was given to us, then god behold what we will do with the freedom that we will obtain in the future. Why even bother?

  3. David says:

    ffmpeg do not solve everything..

  4. Jerome Haltom says:


    They aren’t supposed to watch the video. Remember? Vote with your wallet.

  5. More importantly, where ffmpeg does solve the problem, we should promote its use, merely by it being software. Similarly, where possible, we should promote free formats, be it Ogg, Flac or whatever else we have.

    Just accepting our fate as second-class citizens and opening your wallet to whatever company manages to first set up a codec repository like as if it were the only alternative to the Microsoft tax is not going to make our desktop any more free than they are for any other Microsoft user.

    Whoever made the ffmpeg comment should be horribly ashamed of himself. Those people have managed – more than anyone else – to allow interoperability between free software and proprietary media formats.

  6. Patrick Hallinan says:


    Ok, what is a U.S. citizen supposed to do if they want/need to see a video in a non-free format? I did not think that GNOME was opposed to proprietary software running on the platform? How do you support the U.S. user? Are they just out of luck? What about their *need* to be able to interact with the world as it is?

  7. Wade Mealing says:

    I’m guessing because he only needs to install non-free software from a third party repo. All the free codecs could be already installed ๐Ÿ˜›

    I wonder if fluendo will offer other (future or current) codecs there for free ?

  8. Brian Nickel says:

    Just read the website for the software: http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Releases/FeatureCodecBuddy

    Codec Buddy is a program for Fedora, who WILL NOT ship plugins in violation of US law. As such, it is an embarassment to the company every time they have to say, “We don’t support that because it’s illegal for us to. You have to break US law and download software we don’t support.” It is much better for them to say, “We have a legal solution.”

    I don’t see the big deal.

  9. Yeah, the whole point of that thing is to help the user install proprietary software. The free software codecs should be included in any decent distro. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Even though I would like to encourage the use of free software in all situations, when it comes to multimedia, the choice does not lay the consumer, but at the content provider. ATM, the majority of the content that is available on the internet is not available in free formats. Sad, but true…

    Most non-technical end-users usually do not get the whole free software, free formats, free culture deal, and are more than happy to buy their music at iTunes.

    My belief is that if free operating systems are not able to support the proprietary formats of today, then they will not likely be around to support the free formats of tomorrow. In order to make an impact on the desktop, free operating systems will have to provide support for proprietary formats in a way that is acceptable for commmersial use, both in the US and elsewhere. But untill the day that Ogg/Vorbis is the de facto standard for music players, and YouTube and iTunes move all their videos to Dirac, I guess we just have to bite the dust for a little while.

  11. Paul McGarry says:

    Looks like a good idea to me.

    It makes the cost aspect of the non-free codecs transparent to the end user and as such is likely to get them to think about it a little more than just blaming the distro for being incomplete.

    The dialogue itself is a bit dodgy, it seems a bit odd to tell you you need an “MP3 decoder” and then offer you a bunch of codecs that don’t help you in that regard. I’d guess the first one is the right one, but it doesn’t mention “MP3” or “Decoder” anywhere in it’s description.

  12. Are you sure you are qualified to give legal advice, Ronald ? It is not only in the US that there are legal issues. To the best of my knowledge, software patents are also valid in Australia. In Europe, while there are no “European” software patents, some of the MPEG stuff is patented as a “method” patent in various countries.

    Even if it were only the US that was a problem, it’s still a pretty big section of distro’s markets you would want to have ignored.

  13. thebluesgnr says:

    Thomas, I think you’re ignoring a few things.

    First of all, a lot of users (probably more than 50% of all Fedora users) have every legal right to use libmad and ffmpeg. However, these users are being pushed a non-Free software alternative instead. That’s never a good thing.

    Second, it’s not a good idea to sell “licensed” patented software. Next thing you know Fedora 7+n will have a “store” section in the installer so you can select which of the thousands of features in the distribution you want to license, because as your legal advice will tell you patents apply to pretty much everything in a Free Software distribution.

  14. thebluesgnr, I am not talking about whether it’s a good thing to push non-Free software, I was specifically commenting on the fact that it is wrong to assume software patents are only a problem in the US. I’m not ignoring other stuff, I’m just talking about this particular point.

    However, since you bring it up – codeina as Fedora wants to use it cannot point to libmad and ffmpeg for obvious reasons. This is a Fedora decision. Fedora is however trying to make it possible for their users to legally play back this content.

  15. Then that is one big shame. We have free software but refuse to use it and would prefer to offer and advertise proprietary solutions.

    Oh my god. What is wrong with us?

  16. In essence (and idealistically) you’re absolutely right!

    However, when looking at this in a more practical fashion, it does help the adoption of OSS in general.

    Also let’s not forget that the company who developed these proprietary plugins is a respected community member, fluendo is a good OSS community citizen. So I don’t mind them earning a buck on closed source as long as they keep being actively involved in developing GStreamer amongst other things.

  17. Who is refusing to use it ? Why are you harping on about this as if it is the end of the world ? Ubuntu is going to have an installer that does install legally questionable code like ffmpeg. Fedora is not going to because they cannot run the legal risk. If you don’t agree with that, then don’t use Fedora, use the distro that cares less about the legal/licensing issues involved.

    BTW, I still question the validity of using a GPL/LGPL license on software that knowingly violates patents. It is a patent bomb, simply because one lawsuit against the software in question will terminate the validity of the license on that software, effectively leaving it in limbo. But I’m sure these authors know this very well, some of them make money off of selling their implementation under a different license (which I am fine with, everyone makes their money in their way).

  18. I consider it important to discuss GNOME advocating proprietary, closed-source and patented software. If you disagree, I think you’re at the wrong project. :-}.

    What Fedora does is of secondary importance (though by far not unimportant), but since appears to be part of Totem, I consider it important for GNOME as well.

  19. There are just some things you can’t do in the US without proprietary software. Advising the use of alternatives is to advise people to break the law.

    I hate proprietary formats, but the free software community needs just a teeny-weeny bit of pragmatism. If a school can’t (legally) play an educational DVD on a free OS, the answer isn’t to get rid of the educational material. The answer is to go crawling back to an entirely proprietary stack. ๐Ÿ™

  20. Once again I will ask – all fine, but should we _promote_, _advocate_ and _prioritize_ all this over free software that is of higher quality and legal in most countries in the world?

    Is the US really the only country where free software lovers live? Please, no.

  21. Jef says:

    “Once again I will ask – all fine, but should we _promote_, _advocate_ and _prioritize_ all this over free software that is of higher quality and legal in most countries in the world?”

    GPL software that infringes patent is not quite legal you know. So talk to a lawyer before giving legal advice like this.

  22. Talk to all lawyers you want, they will all tell you something different. And I will maintain that free software should be prioritized, be it when the user permitted such repositories or by default already.

    If you disagree with that, then be gone, you don’t belong here. We are supposed to be the free software movement, not some proprietary pay-me-gangbang.

  23. Jef says:

    “And I will maintain that free software should be prioritized, be it when the user permitted such repositories or by default already.”

    What about when pointing to such software is ILLEGAL and you will get sued for contributory infringement.

    “If you disagree with that, then be gone, you don’t belong here”

    Oh please. I am not your kid.

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