Yes, bring the bling! But please do it properly…
// November 28th, 2006 // Free Software
Inspired by Benjamin “mako” Hill‘s blog entry, “Bring the bling?”, I sent an e-mail to the Ubuntu Community Council noting my objection to the inclusion of non-free code in Ubuntu. I would urge all that believe that Ubuntu should remain (and become more) free to send their suggestions and objections to the council as well.
Below is my e-mail, English is my second language, so apologies for bad grammer and other mistakes…
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1 Dear Ubuntu Community Council I am sending you this message on my own behalf and out of my own accord, although I have good reason to believe that many other community members as well as Canonical employees have similar concerns. The inclusion of so-called "binary-only" drivers in Ubuntu is hurtful to Ubuntu and the free software world. It may enable Ubuntu to attract some additional users in the short-term, but it sets a bad precedent, sends the wrong message and it restricts my freedom to use and modify Ubuntu. It also means that when I distribute Ubuntu, I can't tell my new users that they have just received a completely free system. I would be compelled to tell them that the parent company felt that they needed to include proprietary code to make it useful. It also makes my job more difficult when I have to explain to a teacher why Ubuntu and GNU/Linux is a different kind of 'free' as when Microsoft gives the school a free copy of Windows. There has been various objections to the inclusion of any proprietary drivers or 'firmware blobs' in Ubuntu by various high profile Ubuntu members as well as high-profile figures in the open-source community. I realise and understand that the issue has been discussed at the recent Ubuntu Developers Summit in Mountain View, California, but unfortunately due to timezone differences and high work load I was unable to attend electronically and note my objection. I will continue to support and use Ubuntu, but I beg of you to reconsider the inclusion of the proprietary code. I believe that the Ubuntu project is well resourced and energy would be better spent working with companies such as Intel (who are already doing great work on free software drivers) to release their display cards as standalone boards, and to motivate Ubuntu partners to install Intel compatible or other hardware that supports free software drivers. Alternative projects could also be to lobby users to write their display chip manufacturer to release specifications for their card, although this would be a more long term project. These are simple suggestions and I'm sure there are a 100 better things that can be done to fix the problem, instead of finding a quick-fix that will break Ubuntu and its foundation principles. I hope that you consider my request thoughtfully. Sincerely, Jonathan Carter
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Changelog: Changed 'president' to 'precedent' :)