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Open Ballot - proprietary codecs

We're just about to record the TuxRadar podcast #4, and this episode our Open Ballot question is: should distros make it easy for users to install proprietary codecs/drivers/apps on Linux? Please give a yes or no answer, and show your workings to get all the marks available for this question. The best/funniest/most Morrissey-referencing posts will be read out on air.

Your comments

Emo kids today do not

Emo kids today do not realise that Morrissey started it all!

Yes. Distros should make it easy to install proprietary software. It is about choice, isn't it?

Donoreo, Morrissey started


Morrissey started proprietary codecs?? Whatta guy? :D

I agree, it's all about choice so Yes!

More so as an encouragement to newcomers. The easier things on Linux are for them (and everyone else really) the better.

Yes, though I would like to

Yes, though I would like to be presented with really good reason why they shouldn't be easily available. It seems to me that making basic tasks easier is generally a good aim, whether they involve proprietary components or not, as long as the user is informed about the choices they are making. I don't think it's really fair on users to intentionally make "unapproved" choices difficult- it's paternalistic and condescending.

Yes, of course they should.

Yes, of course they should. As long as the choice is the user's I don't see a problem for the distro. We don't live in a perfect world, and if it wasn't easy to the same things with Linux as with Windows, even fewer people would use Linux. In fact the desktop "market" would arguably almost completely dry up. If we aren't given a choice we may as well be using Windows in the first place.

The reason for not including

The reason for not including them is that they could be sued for patent breach / licensing costs. It is time for the owners of these patents to recognise the reality of the world and offer a blanket licence for free software. This would not impact their revenue as this all comes from iPods and the like that are sold with a per user licence. Fraunhofer could start this with their MP3 patents.

In the mean time all the open source users blatantly break the "Law" and use this software illegally. So it makes sense for the distros to make this process as simple as possible, without getting sued.

Yes! Distributions should of

Yes! Distributions should of course make it easier to install proprietary codecs/drivers/apps. This is an annoyance for new users who migrate from Windows. Many Windows users get there machines bundled with PowerDVD and other proprietary applications, they know nothing about "proprietary codecs", things just play, and thats the way they would want it with Linux.
How about an after install druid/assistant/wizard to enable the required repositories and download the required packages. This way they wouldn't be distributing the proprietary software but would make it easier for end users to get it. It would also leave the decision to the end user, keep the distro fully free or make it useable in the real world?

So long as proprietary

So long as proprietary codecs are crucial to a multimedia experience comparable to that offered by Windows and Mac, Linux distributors would do a disservice to their users by not facilitating their installation.

YES Proprietary codecs

Proprietary codecs should be available from a separate but easily available repository. Thus it would be absolutely clear that they are not being shipped as part of the main distro (possibly protecting the distro). BUT
I would like to see a method to easily install such codecs if possible and a way of sending a comment to the creators of the codec to inform them that there is another user out there who may be using a non-MS product. They might then realise that there could be advantages in releasing some codecs to increase their market share over other companies.

Erm.... yes... defo.... of

Erm.... yes... defo.... of course.

I understand the reasons both for and against. I install any OS to user my computer not spend months installing what I consider to be basic apps. Any new user coming from Windows would expect it and we should aid their transfer.

I know it is now too late

I know it is now too late but just cos them merkins have such a restrictive outlook why should the rest of the world suffer???

Have to be balance two

Have to be balance two considerations:

That new users want some basic funcitonality out-of-the-box or without much work.

That incumbant proprietary codecs easily hold their market share when they're enabled by default.

I know, I know, it's serious.

New users of Linux will lose paitence faster than anyone else if they can't use their media. So just make it very very easy to enable the functionality (ie. on demand). sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras is a bridge too far.

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