Should Ubuntu include proprietary software?
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, arguably the most popular of all Linux distributions, is asking its users what new, proprietary programs they'd like to see as optional software in Ubuntu.
Note, I said "new." Ubuntu has actually included proprietary software in the form of hardware drivers since April 2007. Then, Ubuntu developers decided to place binary ATI and NVIDA graphic card drivers in the distribution because, "A large proportion of people using Ubuntu -- including 70%-80% of people with new computers -- need a non-Free driver for reasonable performance from their graphics card, wireless card, or modem, because there is no Free driver available, they had little choice in the matter."
Never-the-less, when it came to end-user software, Ubuntu has, generally speaking, held the line against including proprietary software in their distribution. You won't find, for example, Adobe Flash 10.x in Ubuntu, even though it's commonly included in other popular Linux distributions such as openSUSE.
Indeed, there are several other distributions, such as Mint, which are perhaps best known for including proprietary programs that Ubuntu has refused to incorporate into the distribution. Until now.
In a blog posting by Matthew Helmke, a member of the Ubuntu Forum Council, Helmke wrote, "We are trying to gather preferences for the apps that users would like to see in upcoming version of Ubuntu. While we all believe in the power of open source applications we are also very keen that users should get to choose the software they want to use. There are some great apps that aren't yet available to Ubuntu users and Canonical would like to know the priority that users would like to see them."
Still, Ubuntu is hedging its bets. Helmke carefully spells out that "This is not about applications to be included by default, but merely things that we may attempt to make more easily available for Ubuntu users to install for themselves from official repositories."
And what are these applications that Canonical is considering to make available as options to Ubuntu users? In the software survey you'll find an odd collection of programs. Some are quite popular, such as Pandora, the online music streaming service, while others, for example, Spotify, also an online music, are rather obscure.