Big Ubuntu Linux news

This is something that really looks interesting. Recently Linspire announced their intent to open source the CNR (Click N Run) concept for installing software, launching a wiki based web site that would allow supported linux distributions to install software (open source or commercial) with as easy a process as possible (visit web site, browse, click). Well, today Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) and Linspire have announced how some of this will look and then some. For starters, Freespire and Linspire are going to be based upon Ubuntu in the future (instead of directly based on debian linux.) That is a fair enough shift. The other part of the news is that as of the release of Fiesty Fawn (The Ubuntu Linux release due in April), Ubuntu users will be able to access Click N Run. So what does this mean?

The most impactful meaning is… new Ubuntu users will have a very quick and easy way to LEGALLY install proprietary video codecs and DVD playback software, as well as yet another way to install the plethora of free software available for linux. Additionally this opens up the possibilities of delivery channels for proprietary software for linux. I know, some people convulse at the thought of proprietary software running on linux, but…. ultimately freedom is being able to choose either open source software or proprietary.

This does NOT replace the current ways of installing software in Ubuntu and from the sound of it will not be preinstalled (i.e. no NON free software preinstalled – it’s up to the user.) But it sounds as though it will make getting the proprietary drivers and codecs much easier for the end user.

What this means for linux in general…. as we see CNR supported on more distributions this could be HUGE for greater software industry support for linux. The current environment is as follows… if I’m a big company making computer software I look at people pestering me for linux software support and say, which distro should I support?… some use deb binary packages, some use rpm. I DON’T want to distribute MY source code…. There is the loki based installer approach that codeweavers uses (and Google?), but I see CNR opening some doors there that may make for wider software availability for linux, which translates into more people willing to try and use linux as their base OS.

This could be disastrous though for those that take pride in the exclusive feel of running an OS that most people consider foreign or “too hard” to use…. but… if it can get us to a point where there is greater software portability for various operating systems AND data formats are treated as client software independant… computing may be much better for it.

Here’s the summary of the story, and a FAQ on the agreement.

As a side note, one of the things that linux distributions have been sorely lacking is good marketing savvy of putting out press releases to keep their names and the concepts of free software associated with desktop use in the publics awareness. Hopefully with backers like Canonical behind linux distributions we’ll continue to see better utilization of media press releases to “advertise” the presence of a Windows alternative.

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