The respect re-build

I was starting to worry a bit about Canonical and Mark Shuttleworth — my fears that Ubuntu was becoming just a little bit more non-free every day, that they weren’t really pursuing the goals that I’d like to see them pursue. Obviously, they aren’t obliged to do what I say — I suspect that Shuttleworth’s opinion would be that I am welcome to make myself eight hundred million dollars and start my own Linux distribution if I don’t like the way he does it — but I’m deeply, deeply pleased to see that I was wrong all along. First, there’s Gobuntu, the promised totally-free version of Ubuntu, as part of the next Ubuntu release. (I’ve already tried a nightly, and, er, tasksel failed during the installer. I’d file a bug but I’m not sure where to put it; there seems to be no Gobuntu product in Launchpad.) Fantastic news; I’ll leave it a little while to stabilise and then try it (or I’ll try it very soon if someone can tell me where I should send bug reports). It’s Guadec this week, so I can’t afford to sod up my (working, free-drivers only) laptop before I do my talk, but I want to help with Gobuntu. Second, Mark’s also flagged the idea of being able to buy a laptop filled with free-software-supported hardware. Those of you who listen to LugRadio will know that I’ve whittled on repeatedly about how people don’t want to install Linux, they want to just buy a computer that works. It’d be so good if I could just go and buy a laptop that works, the next time I need a laptop, something which supports all the cool stuff that the free desktop can do. I’m pretty tired of people saying “I don’t like Linux, my OS X just works”, when half the problem there is that if I tried to install OS X on some random arbitrary computer it wouldn’t have any drivers there either. Having “Linux-specific” laptops isn’t by any means the only approach we should take, but if they existed it’d be such a good way to get things out to people — someone says “I’d like to try Linux, I’ve booted it a bit and it seems good and I want to buy a machine” and I point them at this. Greatness. I’ve signed up to the mailing list; hope there’s some discussion there soon. In brief, then: sorry for doubting you, Mark. Those of you reading who are busy preparing the word “fanboy” in a retort — yeah, I am a fan, a fan who’s just had his faith renewed. Now, when can I buy an OpenMoko phone that seamlessly integrates perfectly with my Ubuntu desktop?

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