Anticipating some sort of of outcry, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth posted a blog Friday that detailed the thinking behind the Ubuntu Business Desktop Remix.
The Linux distro, based on Ubuntu 11.10, was released on Friday. The remix, which was first discussed at the Ubuntu Developer's Summit last October, strips some of the more consumerish items in favor of enterprise features and business tools such as VMware View, which is incorporated in the distro along with a proprietary license.
"Deployment teams have long been modifying their Ubuntu installs to remove features like music players or games and add components that are a standard part of their business workflow. This remix takes the most common changes we’ve observed among institutional users and bundles them into one CD which can be installed directly or used as a basis for further customization," Shuttleworth wrote.
Noting that the remix has the approval of the Ubuntu Technical Board, Shuttleworth said all standards have been met.
"Before anyone gets all worked up and conspiratorial: everything in the remix is available from the standard Software Centre. Packages out, packages in. No secret sauce for customers only; we’re not creating a RHEL, we already have an enterprise-quality release cadence called LTS and we like it just the way it is. This is a convenience for anyone who wants it. Having a common starting point, or booting straight into a business-oriented image makes it easier for institutional users to evaluate Ubuntu Desktop for their specific needs.
Later in this post, Shuttleworth identifies a change that may raise a ruckus.
"<blink>Registration required</blink> ;-) Some applications like VMWare View are included in this release under a proprietary license so download is covered by an EULA, and this image can’t be mirrored unless you make prior arrangements with the relevant ISVs. Boring, but better to do it once than for every individual app."
Why do it? For enterprise users, he noted in his blog.
"Doing so resulted in a commitment to enable community participation in the packaging of some of the pieces that are important to enterprise users,:he wrote. "Ubuntu makes a point of openness to heterogeneous environments. We celebrate the point that the Ubuntu desktop can be highly useful, beautiful, functional and complete without any proprietary applications at all, while recognising that some people need to work with proprietary software on occasion, making sure that software is available and certified for Ubuntu, and making it easy to install. Remixes can include non-free software and still retain the Ubuntu name, as long as they can be brought back to the standard Ubuntu experience with straightforward package management tools and no risk of divergence on the hardware and security front."