“Ubuntu will always be free, and will not have restrictive licenses associated with it.” (so you don’t think I’m making this up: Opera press release, Ubuntu GNU/Linux press release on the web, Ubuntu GNU/Linux press release PDF file).
Here, “free” really means gratis (free as in cost, not free as in freedom) because Opera is proprietary software. Users are not free to inspect or modify Opera (possibly not even share verbatim copies of Opera with their friends and neighbors non-commercially). The second part of the sentence (how Ubuntu GNU/Linux “will not have restrictive licenses associated with it”) is so obviously contradictory it’s laughable on its face.
It’s actions like this that help people better understand where Ubuntu GNU/Linux’s priorities are.
I’ll be interested to see how they reconcile this should they ever make a GNUbuntu; an all free software variant of their Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution.
Update (2006-07-29): The Ubuntu GNU/Linux “Fridge” has an article on how
Opera 9 installable “with a couple of clicks”. So, you can lose your freedom with just
a couple of clicks. To show that Ubuntu’s representatives actually mean gratis, consider the next line:
Over the years the makers of Opera (also called Opera) have been very supportive of the GNU/Linux community.
Several versions of their browser have been available for us freedom lovers, especially for users on Apple’s PowerPC chips and even a .deb package for Debian on Sparc.
Opera has consistently used our community as a market by distributing their proprietary software for numerous GNU/Linux architectures. This isn’t celebrating freedom, it’s exploiting our community.