When co-optation is called “rival[rous]”, where is user’s software freedom?

Mark Shuttleworth, owner of Canonical (which publishes the popular Ubuntu GNU/Linux system), recently gave an interview to More4 News in which Shuttleworth is said to be a “rival” to Microsoft.

The interview is available exclusively in Windows Media.

In order to see the interview on Ubuntu GNU/Linux one must

  • run an i386-compatible build of Ubuntu GNU/Linux
  • install the proprietary Windows Media codecs

That doesn’t strike me as a rivalrous relationship. It strikes me as Microsoft dictating terms and Ubuntu GNU/Linux users being asked to take on those terms regardless of what they are.

Ubuntu GNU/Linux is building a reputation for standing by non-free software.

Ubuntu GNU/Linux’s “fridge” blog is now recommending that users install non-free codecs to see the interview.

Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement, takes software freedom more seriously. He stood up for software freedom at a talk he gave in 2001 when MIT wanted to webcast the talk live via RealMedia, another proprietary software program employing a secret codec. The first few minutes of the recorded talk tells the tale—around 6m30s into the talk Prof. Thorburn, someone who is operating the RealMedia encoder, and Stallman discuss this matter.

This speech is copyright © 2001 Richard M. Stallman

Verbatim copying and distribution of the entire speech recording are permitted provided this notice is preserved.