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Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Freespire 2.0 released with proprietary bits

So, Freespire 2.0 has been released by Linspire. It is based on Ubuntu and "Enhances the Popular Ubuntu Distribution by Adding Proprietary Software, Drivers and Codecs". This will be shocking some people, but is seen by others as very positive.

I've personally never used Linspire nor Freespire, but their focus on non geek PC users and their support of several FOSS initiatives are certainly positive. Is that erased by their inclusion of proprietary software in their distribution? Is it that negative if this inclusion of proprietary software enables its distribution to be used by non geek users, and this way introduce Free and Open Source software to new users?

There could be another way: educating people. But is it really possible to educate people so that they understand the importance of open formats and free software? To the point that they refuse to use proprietary software? I'm afraid not. A lot, and mean a lot, of people really don't care and don't understand the importance of Free Software and open formats.

These days, even some Free Software diehards are communicating with MSN for practical matters. Maybe we should accept Freespire's proprietary bits that give Linux users a legal way to watch proprietary video formats for practical matters? At least Freespire's users will be watching these videos legally, not like some Linux users using windows codec dlls with (e.g.) mplayer.

Anyway, whatever the way we get there, I hope we can get rid of those proprietary formats. When you see how things have progressed with the Open Document Format, and the existing alternatives like Ogg Vorbis and Theora, there's still hope. In the mean time, some people will compromise but hopefully they will not forget the importance of open formats and Free Software.

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