27 January 2008

Making Ubuntu Linux Easier to Use

If Ubuntu Linux wants to be a serious contender for use on desktop and laptop computers, then it needs to improve wireless networking support, DVD playback support, and proprietary multimedia playback support.

For example, the "native" audio format for Ubuntu is the "ogg" open-source format. Yes -- I've been told that the ogg format technically superior to the "mp3" format that is commonly used for internet audio. However, ogg's use is limited mostly to the open-source Linux community. Yes -- it's technically true that the mp3 format is a proprietary format.

However, most Windows and Mac OS users are expecting mp3 audio for podcasts and other online audio recordings. If a church wants to publish sermon podcasts that can be used by a majority of computer users, support for proprietary formats like mp3 is essential.

Automatix is a system utility that automates the setup of these proprietary multimedia formats on Ubuntu Linux.

And the Automatix and Ubuntu teams are starting to work together in order to improve the ease of use for future Ubuntu Linux users (target release for this is Ubuntu Linux 8.04 due to be released on 24 April 2008).


Boy in the Bands (Scott Wells) said...

It should be noted -- I'm sure you know this -- that Ubuntu Linux's limitations you mention are more legal than technical. Certain countries (like, ahem, one with fifty states) allow software patents, limiting the range media decoders.

That said, I don't like Automatix though that's perhaps because of the past conflict between its developers and official Ubuntu. I prefer Medibuntu (http://www.medibuntu.org/) though the best solution for those in countries with software patents would be a clear licensing scheme, as Fluendo has proposed.

Dr. X said...

Canonical could indeed start including proprietary codecs, but then they would have to start charging for Ubuntu. In the US, many of the codecs must be payed for to legally use. We never see this with Windows and Mac, because the price is bundled in with the price of the OS.

Steve Caldwell said...

Automatix and Medibuntu still have the same "legal" issues for USA Ubuntu Linux users -- the end user still has the legal responsibility to make sure that the software being installed can be legally used in one's country.

That being said -- I'm glad that the Ubuntu and Automatix teams are making nice -- regardless of legal issues, this will improve ease of use for Ubuntu Linux and ensure wider use of Ubuntu.