What's the point of Gobuntu?

What's the point of Gobuntu?

Summary: Can someone explain to me the point of Gobuntu?

SHARE:
49

A couple of days ago Mark Shuttleworth (the founder of Ubuntu) announced the release of a new flavor of Ubuntu called Gobuntu. 

What's Gobuntu?  Here's how Shuttleworth describes it:

It is a flavour of Ubuntu (like Kubuntu or Xubuntu) that is basically the same desktop environment as Ubuntu (a GNOME desktop) and a very strict set of restrictions on the licences of code and content. This means that we try to strip out ANYTHING which is not modifiable and redistributable, including firmware, PDF’s, video footage, sounds etc. We are trying to apply the FSF “rights” definition to everything in the platform. Gobuntu will not correctly enable much hardware today - but it exists as a banner for the cause of software freedom and as a reference of what IS possible with a totally rigorous approach. The goal is to make it a real point of pride to be able to run Gobuntu on a laptop or desktop or server, because it means that all of the stars have aligned to ensure that you have complete freedom to use that hardware with free software.

OK, maybe I'm missing the point, but what's the point?  Even if I overlook the phrase "Gobuntu will not correctly enable much hardware today" I still can't get my head around "all of the stars have aligned to ensure that you have complete freedom to use that hardware with free software" bit either.  When people have difficulty running Ubuntu on notebooks now, this kind of project seems to me like it's going to make things harder and support for new hardware will always be severely lacking.  Am I wrong in thinking that the "complete freedom to use that hardware with free software" will only apply to older stuff?  I'm a big fan of Ubuntu but I don't understand the logic behind Gobuntu.

It all sounds too much like a religion to me ...

Thoughts?

Topics: Hardware, Open Source

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

49 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Debian

    Keep in mind that Ubuntu is based on Debian, which is the all-the-way-to-the-limit [i]software libre[/i]-only distribution. Reading between the lines, Shuttleworth has been catching flack from the hard-core Debian faithful and decided to give them what they've been asking for: a pure-[i]libre[/i] version of Ubuntu.

    Useful? Not part of the job description.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • In addition...

      I'm quite sure that the Canonical/Ubuntu would very much like to have a distro that shows up in the FSF's list of completely free OS'. Since some people care about such things, it doesn't hurt.

      Kind of like your local supermarket selling kosher food; only those following the biblical dietary laws will care, but nobody else is going to be put off by it.
      John L. Ries
  • Maybe religious

    But it's worthwhile to try achieve such a distribution. It won't be for the average user, but together with the open laptop they're trying to achieve, this could be something totally free of any proprietary stuff.

    See it as a preparation for a totally open sourced environment.
    tombalablomba
  • Well duh...

    There are some people who are absolutely passionate about using only free software. For example, when you need a new car, I suppose you aren't going to steal it even though that's difficult enough already, mind you saving up the money to buy it! Well, some people feel exactly the same about free software - even though it might be more difficult, more expensive and more work, they still very much feel they need to protect and fully utilize their freedom.

    I don't, by the way ;-)
    Vinko_z
  • Gobuntu?

    Personally - I've been observing this "free software" movement for a little while. I've played with Ubuntu and a few other Linux distros just to be fair about it. Yeah, there's some interesting stuff there - but nothing to change my opinion which is this: "You get what you pay for".

    Some people have a problem paying for software. OK, that's fine. Offhand, though, people that have trouble paying for stuff usually get about what they've paid for - which is usually not all that great. Ever see some of these guys drive cars around that they didn't pay for? Same thing.

    Let the flames begin.

    -CB ;)
    CodeBubba
    • That useless open source stuff

      [i]'but nothing to change my opinion which is this: "You get what you pay for". '[/i]

      I presume then, that you will be careful never to use an Apache server, a SAMBA server, Firefox or OpenOffice.


      [i]"Ever see some of these guys drive cars around that they didn't pay for? "[/i]

      Yeah - they are usually called Police, Gov.t employees, Formula 1 drivers, company directors, etc. etc. Did you have a point?
      bportlock
      • Your examples prove his point

        You've come up with four software titles that are good open source products. One of those, SAMBA is nothing more than copying a commercial networking protocol. Another one, OpenOffice, is nothing more than copying a commercial office suite. The third one, Firefox is a derivative of a commercial package, Netscape. The fourth one, Apache, is really the only one you can say is an original open source project. Everything else is an attempt to copy a commercial success. Let me give you some more. GIMP. A copy of a commercial product. Linux itself. A copy of a commercial product.

        Open source copies commercially successful software. With extremely rare exceptions (Apache, maybe Asterisk), it doesn't create anything new.
        frgough
        • You're proving nothing

          [i]"SAMBA is nothing more than copying a commercial networking protocol."[/i]

          SAMBA implements Microsoft's SMB which *they* copied from IBM's original project.


          [i]"OpenOffice, is nothing more than copying a commercial office suite"[/i]

          Look at Excel - a copy of visicalc, Word - a copy of Bravo.


          [i]"Firefox is a derivative of a commercial package, Netscape"[/i]

          Internet Explorer - a copy of Netscape which was a copy of Mosaic which was free.

          There is very little ORIGINAL software, either open or closed source. All the major ideas were mapped out decades ago. That is why patents on software are so stupid.
          bportlock
          • you'd have a point

            You confuse copying with building on.

            Now, if Open Office actually did things, feature-wise, that Office does NOT do, you'd have a point. Instead it tries to mimic as many Office features as possible.

            The whole open source community is stuck in "me-too-ism."

            Ubuntu didn't come out until AFTER Apple showed how to marry UNIX with a GUI. The cool dekstop effects in Ubuntu didn't come out until AFTER Apple showed them how to do it with Quartz and Quartz Extreme.

            It will always be this way for one simple fact. Apple and Microsoft and commercial software companies have an incentive called $$$ to create software that people will want to buy.

            Open Source is generally written by a bunch of people who have an itch to scratch, and once they've scratched it, they are done. That's why 99% of all open source software is amateurish, half-finished and sits at a .9 version for years.

            I hear it over and over again. Open Office is just as good as Office. GIMP is just as good as Photoshop.

            When Open Source comes up with something like iMovie or iDVD BEFORE a commercial firm does, call me.
            frgough
          • You know nothing of what you speak

            [i]Ubuntu didn't come out until AFTER Apple showed how to marry UNIX with a GUI.[/i]

            Who cares when Ubuntu came out? X came out in the middle 1980s. Gnome and KDE came out in the late 1990s. OSX came out in 2000. So sorry to break your RDF but Apple did [b]not[/b] show [b]anybody[/b] how to marry UNIX with a GUI. As always, it is [b]Apple[/b] that has a bad case of the "me-too-ism" (iPod, AppleTV, iPhone, etc.).

            [i]The cool dekstop effects in Ubuntu didn't come out until AFTER Apple showed them how to do it with Quartz and Quartz Extreme.[/i]

            First off, those "cool" desktop effects are available in any Linux distro. Second, those "cool" desktop effects make OSX look like it was severely beaten with the ugly stick. When it comes to making nice desktops, Linux [b]crushes[/b] both OSX and Vista.

            [i]That's why 99% of all open source software is amateurish, half-finished and sits at a .9 version for years.[/i]

            So what if 99% of open source software is like that? Considering there are hundreds of thousands of open source projects, even if only 1% are useful, that is still thousands of great open source programs. Amarok is so much better than iTunes, it isn't even funny. SAMBA is really, really, really well done and is used all over the place in production settings. Even Apple uses things like Apache because Apple developers are totally incapable of coming up with [b]anything[/b] better. Care to tell all of us why Apple would include [i]amateurish, half-finished[/i] software on its install media?
            NonZealot
          • FOSS Works At < 1.0, Microsoft Works(?) at 3.0+

            [i]That's why 99% of all open source software is amateurish, half-finished and sits at a .9 version for years.[/i]

            As we all know, 68.5% of all statistics are made up. :-D

            As for the potshot about FOSS projects remaining at a version < 1.0, much of that is because it's WORKING at that version. I routinely use various FOSS programs that are below the version 1.0 level, and they WORK! Whatever is keeping 'em from going to 1.0, I don't know, but it's not interfering with my productivity anything like a Microsoft program does no matter how many version numbers it has.

            You may remember the old bromide that Microsoft never gets anything right until (at least?) version 3. There's a lot of truth to that. I've been computing (mostly in the Microsoft environment) for 20 years, and I can't think of a thing from them that I had any serious appreciation for until at least version 3.

            So you can keep your Microsoft Whatever version 4, 5, 6 or even 10, bug-infested and security hole-ridden as they are; I'll keep my < 1.0 FOSS programs that WORK.
            dumptux
          • You know nothing of what you speak

            Not forget to mention that Apple uses CUPS (printer system which is an original OSS) and lots of apple software uses other OSS libraries like Firefox rendering engine for web browser and Pigin for IM clients etc.
            Apple are using lots of OSS, and that is good.
            Jxn
          • I see that more lessons are needed

            [i]"Ubuntu didn't come out until AFTER Apple showed how to marry UNIX with a GUI."[/i]

            And Apple did not come up with a GUI until Xerox/PARC showed them how to do it. Your point is....???


            [i]"Apple and Microsoft and commercial software companies have an incentive called $$$ to create software that people will want to buy."[/i]

            And FOSS is about creating software that can be sold OR given away free. Once again, your point is????


            [i]"That's why 99% of all open source software is amateurish, half-finished and sits at a .9 version for years."[/i]

            It is true that much FOSS does not meet the standard of Apple users in terms of presentation, but that software works. Many people who use Macs are highly concerned with presentation. To many Mac users, image isn't important - image is EVERYTHING. To a geek/FOSS type functionality is everything.

            Finally, answer this - if Open Source is so useless, why is your precious OSX based on a BSD distro?
            bportlock
        • Re: Your examples prove his point

          [i]Open source copies commercially successful software.[/i]

          More or less. Anyway, I won't quibble because it matters not.

          There are lots of reasons to welcome open source even if you never use it.

          Open source is itself an innovation, as a method of production.

          Open source leads to the commodification of the proprietary software it copies and that forces proprietary producers to innivate. If you don't believe me consider the turnaround MS made with respect to developing IE7 when Firefox starte gaining traction. IE was stagnant. MS won't innovate for innovation's sake when there is no competition and why would it?

          Open source stresses interoperability, and it walks the walk, too. Proprietary companies will talk the talk when it suits them but behind the facade they view interoperability as harmful. To the extent they are making interop noises (even just to be mischievous) they are doing so as a response to open source.

          Finally, if open source isn't innovative then the web isn't an innovation. The web was built on open source innovation like httpd, named and sendmail.

          I'll give you your Word and Photohop if you'll give open source the ability to share their fruits without having to put a floppy in the mail.




          :)
          none none
        • A point, but not 4 points

          It could fairly be said that OpenOffice was created from the mindset of matching functionality - but your premise is a little harder to swallow with the other 'examples'. Firefox may have started with Netscape, but certainly no more than IE started with Mosaic. Not much of a factor with either one at this point - they both have evolved far beyond that now.

          Just what commercial product is the GIMP based on? It has been around longer than the OS it now mainly runs on, and somewhat longer than the product you are probably thinking of. If it was driven by another product, why is the interface so different?

          As for Linux itself - it is based on a pre-existing NON commercial product, one which has also had commercial branches. Hardly a compelling example for your point!

          Closed source has not come up with anything 'new' for quite a while either, that I can see - so THAT problem is rather widespread. What people are DOING with open source, however, *IS* new in quite a few cases - you have been loooking around the web??
          Freebird54
          • A point, but not 4 points

            I'm currently enrolled at school working toward my BS in Computer Science. I'm going to owe a lot of money by the time I graduate. If I'm going to pay those loans off, I'm going to need to get a job writing software. Now most of the open source elitists that TalkBack at ZDnet seem to only want to put Microsoft out of business. I don't think it will end there. Open Source elitists take it personally that a company would dare make proprietary software. As if software capitalism itself were an evil that needed to be expunged (does that make open source elitists communists?). What kind of world would there be if no one could get paid writing software. You open source elites may have the time and funds to write free software, but the rest of us do not. Software engineering will not be a hobby for me, it's going to be my career.
            DrConnors
          • Aren't you confusing Free software with Free of charge?

            GNU doesn't talk anything about not charging for the programs you make. Did you ever wonder why? I been thinking this for quite a while.
            arielenter
    • "You get what you pay for".

      Sweet!

      I have some land I'll let you have for only a few million. With a price like that it [b]must[/b] be great, right?

      On the other hand, you won't miss that air you've been getting for free -- it is, after all, worth only what you pay for it.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
    • When it comes to OSs, you don't get what you paid for

      Case in point:
      - it would cost me ~$2,000 to buy OSX (I don't currently have a Mac and Steve Jobs has [b]artificially[/b] and [b]onerously[/b] locked OSX to the Mac)

      - it would cost me ~$300 to buy Vista Ultimate

      - it would cost me nothing to "buy" Linux

      OSX is the most dangerous and the least useful (have you [b]seen[/b] how many vulnerabilities they've had so far this year?????!!!!!!), Linux is the best for the server, Vista is the best for the desktop. With Linux, you get [b]far[/b] more than you paid for and with OSX, you get [b]far[/b] less than you paid for. Like I said, OSs are all backwards when it comes to "getting what you paid for".
      NonZealot
      • $2,000.00? Really?

        Hmm I found from the [url=http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore?family=CertifiedMac&cid=OAS-US-KWG-CPUDiscount/Refurb-US&esvt=GOUSE&esvadt=999999-1011523-54046-1&esvid=1989]Apple store itself[/url] complete and refurbished macbook pros for less than $1300.00... for a complete system. The OS costs $129.00 AND there are iMacs (17" screen) for under $900.00 with quite nice specs.

        Maybe if you actually did a little Googling and less frothing at the mouth you would see your rants are quite utterly ridiculous. Sometimes entertaining, but still ridiculous. ]:)
        Linux User 147560