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Canonical Explains Decision to License H.264 For Ubuntu

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the less-painful-to-pay dept.

Linux Business 372

tux writes with this snippet from The Register: "Ubuntu's commercial sponsor Canonical has tried to clarify how — if not why — it has licensed a closed-source and patented codec for video on PCs running its Linux. Canonical is the first Linux shop to have agreed to license the codec in question, H.264, from MPEG LA. Even though Red Hat and Novell are also available for use on PCs, they have not licensed H.264."

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Good thing (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117150)

It's a great move for the Linux community, even if some "pure" free and open source people disagree. You cant get everything at once and expect casual people to put up with "it's proprietary so we dont support it" if they want to do something, or demand them to add some Russian repositories in the apt-get config file so they can get unlicensed, pirated versions of those and break the law. No, they will just get something that works for them. And H.264 has already clearly won this round, so anyone catering for casual people has to support it.

Like TFA notes, Canonical has also previously licensed well done closed source software for Ubuntu. You aren't losing your soul if you take the best from the both worlds. In fact you are still promoting open source software, and probably way more efficiently when people actually like the system and can use it the way they want to. I honestly dont think every software in the world should be open source, but the underlying system should be. But even if you want software and standards to be open too, after getting the open OS out there the next step is to create competitive, better alternatives for the software and standards.

Be focused on one thing, dont try to fight the whole world at once.

-sopssa

Re:Good thing (1, Flamebait)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117172)

so you psoted that anonymously to avoid serious downmodding? Whats a hoot.

Honestly, H264 is a horrible idea. They're signing up now when this thing isn't even GPL compatible. Do you have any diea what that means?

oh, right, you don't. Way to troll.

Re:Good thing (3, Insightful)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117214)

So use another distro if you object.

Re:Good thing (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117672)

It's not like an iPad where the alternative is to give up everything useful about the platform in the process.

Turning your back on Ubuntu won't turn you into some sort of Linux-Amisher.

You are free to come and go as you like (no vendorlock).

Re:Good thing (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118078)

Exactly. And I am.

... but.

This doesn't exactly map onto "vote with your wallet". So how are we supposed to 'vote' in a meaningful way.

This is a serious question. Not buying a product and advising anyone who will listen to do the same is one thing, but how exactly does one provide negative feedback to an Free Software project?

Critical posts on blogs and forums may have a cathartic effect for those who need to vent, but these days they tend to be either ignored or played down as 'the blathering of the disgruntled'. In many communities, stepping too far away from the groupthink results in being banned from further participation. Banning wears the guise of maintaining order and keeping things on topic, but is quite an effective tool at suppressing dissent. Once the ban hammer falls, it's as if you never existed. Noone else can even come along and read your opinions and decide they agree with you. Chilling.

How exactly does a person communicate in a serious way that an open source project has jumped the shark?

What stick does one wield if monetary punishment is not a viable option? And "fork the code" is not the right answer. This is more about how communities communicate to the 'executive' team to produce a product that folks can be happy with.

Re:Good thing (4, Insightful)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118288)

If you are not the customer they are trying to reach then your voice doesn't matter and money doesn't always determine who they are trying to reach. What makes you think you have anything to say?

Re:Good thing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117318)

I posted it anonymously because I got modded down into oblivion in a Google discussion a few weeks ago and slashdot allows only 2 posts a day with -1 karma, which haven't improved since then because people tend to mod posts already with -1 as troll or redundant without a reason.

-sopssa

Re:Good thing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117494)

Try cracking a Microsoft joke. Something along the lines of Balmer throwing chairs. Maybe add in some insensitive clod, ???? Profit, and soviet Russia, end it with sfm4.@#$@ NO CARRIER

Re:Good thing (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117858)

IIRC, posts modded Funny does not give any karma bonus.

Re:Good thing (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117568)

Yes it means that I can play h.264 video on a Linux distro without jumping through hoops.

Honestly just use Debian if you really don't like it.
Canonical had three choices.
1. Not include it and cause new users problems. Maybe big enough problems that they stop using Linux
2. Just include it anyway and face a long nasty court battle.
3. Pay for it and include it.
Since they already offer Flash and the none GPL video drivers so this not being GPL is no big deal.

Re:Good thing (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117704)

> Yes it means that I can play h.264 video on a Linux distro without jumping through hoops.

Except that is already the case.

You don't have to "jump through hoops" to play h264 on Ubuntu. Just try to play the file and click next a few times.

The kind of mindless FUD you are trying to spread right this very moment is why Canonical is doing this.

If you feel like jumping through hoops, try playing a generic MPEG2 file on a Mac.

Re:Good thing (3, Insightful)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118340)

"Except that is already the case."

Right. The technical aspects of h.264 were never an issue, its always been about the licensing. I don't think this is necessarily any kind of an issue for end users so much. If you to keep your linux rig purely oss, then opt of of installing that driver. This is really an issue if you want to distribute ubuntu in your nifty new thingamabob product, puts in an extra layer of paperwork and licensing for that.
Now on the other hand, creeping non-oss is a little scary, I don't blame those who feel like a near-total freak out is in order. Canonical ultimately can do what it wants, but if it wants to keep serving the oss community (at least better than red hat did), its need to check this kind of activity to a minimum.

Re:Good thing (1, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117676)

code doesn't have to be GPL compatible to be run on linux, otherwise the GPL would be so dead nobody would have heard of it by now

Re:Good thing (4, Insightful)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117682)

They're signing up now when this thing isn't even GPL compatible. Do you have any diea what that means?

It means an Ubuntu PC will work with the majority of sites on the Internet while yours won't. Now you can moan about that as much as you like, but 99% of people just don't care - they just want their PC to work.

Re:Good thing (2, Insightful)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117746)

People like you are the reason that desktop Linux will never really take off. You want mass market? You have to include the things that people want, and with more video going to H.264 online, what are you supposed to tell the consumers? "Sorry, this doesn't jibe with the worldview that we hold and you don't understand or care about. You just want to watch videos online, but we don't want that, so tough luck."

Re:Good thing (1, Insightful)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118204)

People like you are the reason corporations continue to gain control over our lives. People 'want' without being willing to accept the consequences. Or worse, they accept the consequences willingly (if they even understand the consequences of their actions, which is rare), condemning those few left with free will to either give up their freedom or participation in the Faustian bargain that is the mass market. If mass market acceptance is the measuring stick for the success of the "linux desktop", I hope it never succeeds.

Re:Good thing (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118310)

That's what Apple has been saying recently. Look how it's hurting them.

Re:Good thing (0)

armanox (826486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117194)

Unfortunately legal reasons prevent US based distributions from shipping with such codecs.

Re:Good thing (2, Insightful)

mugurel (1424497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117520)

heh, and now you get modded up... but anyway, i disagree with you on fighting the whole world at once. This is about settling a standard video format for the web for the time to come. It's not something you do today and undo tomorrow. If you desire open and license free standards this is not the right time to make a compromise!

Re:Good thing (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117658)

If you desire open and license free standards this is not the right time to make a compromise!

Maybe, but stuff like this needs to happen for widespread adoption of Linux, to make it legit in the eyes of the masses. The purists can always use other distros and/or hack together other working solutions. Remember, the beauty of Linux is that you always have a choice.

As an aside, I'm amused that sopssa has bad karma(excellent FP in this case). If you wanna get constant +5 first posts, you gotta play rough with the big boys, dude.

Re:Good thing (3, Insightful)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117780)

Mod this guy up. A lot of hardcore FOSS advocates want everything to go open source, but they refuse to see things as they are. Right now, there are closed-source codecs, programs, operating systems, etc out there that have the bulk of many different markets. You want Linux to get more desktop market share? You will NOT be able to do it without biting the bullet and supporting some closed standards. End of story.

Re:Good thing (3, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117730)

It's never the right time to compromise, but you have to do it anyway.

Re:Good thing (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117742)

...except there is enough variation in h264 that this still doesn't constitute a standard.

"Standardizing" on h264 just gets you in the general neighborhood. It still doesn't gaurantee that your video will play on any device.

Although if you do manage to find that "lowest common denominator", you will likely find it unsuitable for more robust clients.

This isn't quite like settling on mp3 or jpg.

Re:Good thing (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118094)

And if you're not a FOSS zealot, this isn't even a compromise. It's just a good idea.

Ideals are lovely, but in reality, people get compensated for their work.

Re:Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117754)

What's with the FUD?

add some Russian repositories in the apt-get config file so they can get unlicensed, pirated versions of those and break the law.

In countries not recognizing software patents, it's perfectly legal to provide "patented" codecs for download.

In countries recognizing software patents (or any other patents, for that matter), personal use does not constitute infringment, so downloading and using the "patented" codecs isn't breaking the law.

"Piracy" generally means copyright infringement, which is AFAIK not the norm here -- we have perfectly good open-source implementations.

Re:Good thing (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117824)

I respectfully disagree. The entire point of open source is to foster and encourage it as well as produce it. Canonical would have been better off trying to throw its weight behind Google and VP8. It is not a question of winners and losers. Remember when Linux was the real underdog? Linux proves that an open source battle can be fought and one .... Linus and the FSF proved that community developed, open source applications can compete neck and neck with their proprietary counterparts and, in some cases, come out quite significantly ahead.

Re:Good thing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32118062)

But if you ever want Linux to gain desktop marketshare, you have to compromise something at this point. You can fight for those later, but at this point, casual people will not start using Linux if it doesn't just work.

If you try to fight for it all now, you will lose the whole war. Fight a single battle at a time.

- sopssa

Re:Good thing (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118302)

haha, wtf? throw it's weight behind google?!?! that's like saying that mouse should throw it's weight behind that elephant.

and news flash for you - linux is STILL the underdog, you've got next to no market share on the desktop which is ubuntu's target market. this illusion that linux is somehow winning is hurting you all more then helping, and frankly this is a brillant move by ubuntu because it'll mean their shit finally works with the most popular video format on the web.

Re:Good thing (5, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117866)

Nice pre-written bit of astroturf.

The only thing that's "clear" is that h.264 has hardly won anything yet. The round has not yet begun. Google controls youtube, and if they like VP8, and it happens to be free, look out world.

Just because Shuttleworth is buying some licenses for its OEM hardware partners does not mean you get proprietary codecs for free with your ubuntu download, unless you steal them. But this is like stealing a plastic bag. Why steal what someone else will give you for free?

Re:Good thing (4, Informative)

init100 (915886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117922)

or demand them to add some Russian repositories in the apt-get config file so they can get unlicensed, pirated versions of those and break the law.

Unless the term piracy now also includes patent infringement those codecs aren't pirated. They are simply illegal to distribute in the United States because the US allows software patents, and the software is covered by such US patents. The codecs in questions are perfectly legal in any country where software is not patentable.

Re:Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32118100)

H264 has been playing without much problem under GNU/Linux for years, using free software ffmpeg, used notably by multimedia players MPlayer et VLC... The worst case generally was having to install a more recent version/snapshot, but distributions (like Gentoo) or trusted third-parties (there has always been at least one, for Debian and Ubuntu -currently it's notably Medibuntu) always had them supported, so it was quite easy.

The only real problem is still performances, but it is mostly a problem with older/cheaper machines and netbooks, and high-resolution videos like 1080p, and there are always ways to more or less lower quality to play it, and it's not *that* different on Windows, H264 being well known for being demanding anyway.

The Canonical move is mostly patent-related. It is little related to what is available in free and open source software. And even if you wanted to "respect the law" (if it is properly applied here, and if it is legitimate regarding far more fundamental rights and even simply rational in a good society), patents are not applicable everywhere in the world, so it is not even a global problem.

Re:Good thing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32118350)

Being able to play the media that everyone else is able to for free is a pretty big "thing."

Nice astroturfing for Micro...sorry, CANONICAL though. Cocksucker.

First post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117164)

First post!

WHY? (4, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117170)

Since the general goal of Ubuntu is to reach out to the average computer user, rather than the power user or enterprise as most other distributions aim for, the question of "Why did they license a codec that most major companies are throwing support behind?" shouldn't really need to be asked.

HOW? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117304)

Since TFS is so suckily misleading, I actually RTFA this time. Everybody's been saying it's legally impossible for Mozilla to license H.264 for Firefox, because MPEG LA requires a limit on the number of installs or something. Of course since Ubuntu is freely distributable, all the same arguments would apply. So WTF?

But it turns out this doesn't mean licensing the codec for the installs we end users make from the ISOs we've downloaded and burned or anything. It's about offering OEMs the option of licensing it for preinstalled copies of Ubuntu.

Re:HOW? (1)

silverglade00 (1751552) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117688)

But it turns out this doesn't mean licensing the codec for the installs we end users make from the ISOs we've downloaded and burned or anything. It's about offering OEMs the option of licensing it for preinstalled copies of Ubuntu.

Exactly. This is just like my Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu. It came with Fluendo codecs preinstalled. I had to give them up when I decided to use the regular Ubuntu instead of Dell's old version that rarely saw updates.

Re:HOW? (1, Redundant)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118084)

Since TFS is so suckily misleading, I actually RTFA this time. Everybody's been saying it's legally impossible for Mozilla to license H.264 for Firefox, because MPEG LA requires a limit on the number of installs or something. Of course since Ubuntu is freely distributable, all the same arguments would apply. So WTF?

To answer your "WTF?", the problem is that everybody's been lying about Firefox. There are absolutely no legal reasons why they can't license H.264, just as there are no legal reasons Canonical can't. Which is why they were able to do it. WTF averted, problem solved.

Re:HOW? (1)

rawler (1005089) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118318)

Last time I read the License, MPEG LA has a few steps in the License, where below a certain number of installs it's free, in between it's increasingly pricey, and there's a ceiling of the total amount of licenses in an organisation, where new licenses don't cost more.

Of course though, you're completely right in your OEM assesment. This does in no way improve the situation for the vast majority of Canonicals users (who doesn't get Ubuntu through OEM), it's simply a move for Canonical to improve it's profitability. (Which in itself is of course not a bad thing)

Re:WHY? (1, Interesting)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117334)

Even so, I seem to remember that some years ago, Ubuntu was extremely purist, not even showing the Firefox logo on Firefox because it was a trademark. And now they license patented tech.

Re:WHY? (4, Informative)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117408)

I'm pretty sure they didn't display it because they made changes to it and mozilla said "this ain't our firefox"

Since then they changed it to mozilla's firefox with ubuntu extensions installed.

Re:WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117418)

Even so, I seem to remember that some years ago, Ubuntu was extremely purist, not even showing the Firefox logo on Firefox because it was a trademark.

Wasn't that because of Mozilla's usage restrictions, not some general principle about trademarks?

Re:WHY? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117424)

shit changes get over it

Re:WHY? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117664)

yes, and now Ubuntu offers to download and install my Nvidia and AMD/ATI video drivers for me, which are proprietary.

And Ubuntu's marketshare has been going very much up. I don't miss then days when you had to modify the x11 files to get your NVidia driver to work. I look at it as a benefit.

Thank The FSF/GNU Nutcases (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117338)

The faster the open source world jettisons these FSF and GNU kooks the better.

Re:Thank The FSF/GNU Nutcases (3, Funny)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117516)

Does that mean we have to give up Hurd?

Re:Thank The FSF/GNU Nutcases (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118160)

what, you mean you haven't hurd? [youtube.com]

Closed Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117174)

H.264 is a spec. How can a spec be closed-source?

Re:Closed Source? (4, Insightful)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117256)

Some people are confusing patent issues with closed-sourcedness.

Re:Closed Source? (1, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117782)

Open source represents a freedom to use and create derivative works.

If there is a patent legal landmine, then clearly the freedom to use and create derivatives has gone straight out the Window.

If Ubuntu has to worry about being SUED for including something then it really isn't Free Software. It's not the fault of the coders. However, the problem still remains.

Re:Closed Source? (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118136)

Open source represents a freedom to use and create derivative works.

...

If Ubuntu has to worry about being SUED for including something then it really isn't Free Software.

Those two terms aren't interchangeable. What you mention in the first sentence is not a defining aspect of Open Source, but is a defining aspect of Free Software.

heh (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117188)

Wine all you want, open-source fanatics. Our HTPCs are getting quite a nice boost in usability.

Re:heh (4, Funny)

ClickOnThis (137803) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117276)

Wine all you want, open-source fanatics.

[Emphasis mine.] I think you meant whine. Oh wait, maybe you didn't.

Re:heh (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117492)

Damn right I'll wine [winehq.com] ! It works great!

Re:heh (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117700)

What? You go out of your way to make sure you are respecting software patents on systems that no one other that you is ever likely to mess around with? Really?

Re:heh (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117820)

> Wine all you want, open-source fanatics. Our HTPCs are getting quite a nice boost in usability.

Binary nvidia drivers do that, not a rather redundant patent license.

Don't let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117198)

The writing's on the wall here, kids. H.264 is where web video is going.

Theora's a non-starter, and unless VP8 is stunning as fuck and Google indemnifies everyone and his kid brother against lawsuits, it's not going anywhere either.

Re:Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (4, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117248)

It'd be easier to fight h264 if it weren't so damn good.

Re:Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (2, Insightful)

Big Boss (7354) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118278)

Not the mentioned hardware accelerated on EVERYTHING. My cell phone has hardware acceleration for h264. OGG? no. VP8? no. Can the CPU do it? no. Well, h264 it is then. It's fine to say we should push for open codecs, but when I can't play the videos encoded with them on my equipment...... Google and VP8 are probably our best chance here, if Google can push for hardware supported VP8 in Android equipment, they might be able to stem the tide. If they care. They already have h264 licenses.

Re:Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (0, Troll)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117574)

"H.264 is where web video is going."

That's what you think. I don't know about you but I was in direct contact with MPEG-LA lawyers recently about their licensing terms (confusion over what constituted commercial use,) and given the terms of their licensing as stated and clarified directly to me, I'll not be surprised to see many, many sites ditching H.264 in favor of something free. You may think theora's a non-starter but you know what, you're all focused on technical limitations and other bullshit when you should worry about "DOES IT FUCKING WORK OR NOT?" That answer is yes, and since it does work, it's viable enough.

Re:Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117642)

Cool story, bro! Tell it again!

Re:Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (1)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117836)

This old rubbish AGAIN. I wish people would stop spouting such misinformed garbage. From Wikipedia:-

In countries where patents on software algorithms are upheld, vendors and commercial users of products which make use of H.264/AVC are expected to pay patent licensing royalties for the patented technology[8] that their products use.

Basically, MPEG-LA only has jurisdiction in the US, so whilst that tough for you guys over there, in the rest of the world no-one has to pay them a bean. It is free to use on your website. And given that the rest of the world is clearly a majority of the people on the internet, firstly you're pissing into the wind, and secondly your mistaken in the fact that you think that the rest of the world cares.

Re:Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (1)

roca (43122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117994)

The MPEG-LA pool has many H.264 "method" patents in Europe and other countries. Many European companies pay royalties to license those patents. You can argue that all those patents are invalid, but you'd probably have to fight a very large lawsuit to prove it.

Re:Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (3, Insightful)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118290)

You're forgetting ACTA which is the attempt to transform 'misinformed garbage' into reality without anyone realizing it until it is too late. Do not underestimate those who wish to control you. Sticking your fingers in your ears and chanting "la la la la" will not be enough to ward them off. Take this seriously and make sure this does not spread to where you live. The first step is not to smugly point out that it doesn't apply to you where you live, but to help those trying to fight it before it spreads to you.

Re:Uh, cause that's where everyone's headed? (2, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118262)

I don't know about you but I was in direct contact with MPEG-LA lawyers recently about their licensing terms (confusion over what constituted commercial use,) and given the terms of their licensing as stated and clarified directly to me, I'll not be surprised to see many, many sites ditching H.264 in favor of something free.

H.264 is not going away. Those that make money from it can afford the license. For those that don't, it is free. There's no way at all that any major commercial site is going to ditch H.264 for Theora. None. At. All.

You may think theora's a non-starter but you know what, you're all focused on technical limitations and other bullshit

Not technical limitations. Quality. Theora just doesn't have it.

when you should worry about "DOES IT FUCKING WORK OR NOT?" That answer is yes, and since it does work, it's viable enough.

But it doesn't "fucking work". Well over 99% of computers in use today cannot play Theora over the web. If you ditch H.264 in favor of Theora, congratulations, you just ensured that the overwhelming majority of users can not use your site. That would have to be the single most idiotic business move imaginable. While you're at it, you might as well only offer your content in Klingon.

Lawyers win-win (2, Insightful)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117258)

It would be more sustainable and cheaper to invest in patent reform than to license trivial patents of course...

Misleading title and summary (5, Informative)

armanox (826486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117260)

Reading the article and linked articles points out that this only applies purchased copies of Ubuntu and not the downloaded version that everyone seems to adore.

Re:Misleading title and summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117324)

Reading the article? How dare you! What are you trying to do, start a trend?

Re:Misleading title and summary (0, Offtopic)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117356)

Reading the article and linked articles points out ...

But I'm illiterate, you insensitive clod!

Re:Misleading title and summary (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117852)

...and where does one purchase copies of Ubuntu exactly?

They don't sell such a thing. They sell support contracts but they don't sell a boxed version like Redhat used to.

You can get cheap install CD's but that's something else.

It sounds just like Shuttleworth (5, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117298)

He's willing to compromise on doctrinaire software freedom issues in order to grow his marketshare. I'm impressed he can afford to buy it and give it away even to their OEM vendors. One wonders what terms this was made on, and how sustainable it is. But to be clear - this does not come free with each download of Ubuntu. It's part of a deal where money is getting made through the sale of hardware.

You can look to Android for similar policy, I'm sure.

It might also have the effect of embarrassing some of the folks who had aspirations of hurting Linux adoption by trying to lock the world into a proprietary video codec. It will hurt, but the effect will not be as black and white as it was in the past.

The real endgame here is still getting an open codec in an open standard for web video. I think the commercial interests have finally woken up to how much the proprietary codec world has hurt them, and how much they have to gain by escaping. It's not just a problem for Linux and the FSF - proprietary codecs are a big problem for everyone who produces and consumes video.

In a perfect world, where users could unbundle and pay ala carte for commercial vs. free codecs, they would not buy them (they're not worth much vs. what we can do for free), and producers would not be saddled with encoding for them, and everyone would be quite a lot happier.

Re:It sounds just like Shuttleworth (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117482)

"I'm impressed he can afford to buy it and give it away even to their OEM vendors."

I dunno. Apple gives away tons of free H.264 licenses with their software (QuickTime, iTunes) on Windows. H.264 licenses aren't that expensive, even though I'm pretty sure they are per machine/download. (The max license fee for the encoder is two cents a disk.)

Re:It sounds just like Shuttleworth (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117842)

Yeah, but Apple can easily absorb the cost. They have about $42 billion in the bank right now.

Re:It sounds just like Shuttleworth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117578)

The real endgame here is still getting an open codec in an open standard for web video. I think the commercial interests have finally woken up to how much the proprietary codec world has hurt them, and how much they have to gain by making their own proprietary codec the "winning" codec next time..

FTFY

Think like them, not like you.

Special Slashdot Memo: I, Hereby, (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117306)

introduce gNewSense [gnewsense.org] as a fully free alternative to the NONSENSICAL non-free alternatives.

Yours In Novy Urengoy,
K. Trout

Focus (2, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117392)

Canonical can focus on keeping the FSF happy, or they can focus on trying to someday turn a profit and brining sustainability to their company.

Why do they need to justify this decision? It seems like a no-brainer to me.

Re:Focus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117514)

Remember XFree86? Barely anyone does. Why? Because when the people behind it started to pull licensing tricks that put users off, they forked it, created x.org and said a very polite "fuck you" to the newly licensed XFree86. Now barely any distribution uses it.

They need to justify their decision because if it looks like they're trying to burn the OSS community rather than contribute to it, it's going to piss a lot of people off. They're giving out a product that most people are never paying a cent for, they need people USING Ubuntu to be able to make these revenue-sharing deals, license codecs needlessly, etc. If those people suddenly decide to switch over to ANOTHER product that's being given out for free (Gentoo-Ubuntu exodus, anyone), there goes their mindshare and the potential for turning a profit.

I can only assume you called the problem a "no-brainer" because you didn't even put yours to use before making that post. Judging by your posting history, I'm guessing you're just a troll anyway, and I've just given you what you want. Alas.

I can certainly give you something in return though -- spam. Enjoy!

enderandrew@gmail.com
enderandrew@gmail.com
enderandrew@gmail.com
enderandrew@gmail.com
enderandrew@gmail.com
enderandrew@gmail.com
enderandrew@gmail.com
enderandrew@gmail.com

Let's see how long it takes some bots to pick that up.

Re:Focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117524)

Red Hat does both. In general it's exactly this sort of thing that has always bothered me about Ubuntu. The contrast between Canonical and Red Hat couldn't be more stark in this case and it's regrettable that Canonical is prepared to compromise on what really should be a core principle of free software distributions.

Shuttleworth is a businessman. That explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117444)

He made several hundred thousand pounds selling certificates of dubious value (that's CA certificates in general, not just Thawte's) off the back of an open source project he happened to be involved in (Apache).

If you believe he is in Ubuntu for freedom, peace and democracy you must be a crackpot.

Closed source? No. (5, Insightful)

nielsm (1616577) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117594)

Huh?

H.264 is not "closed source", it's an open standard with open source encoders (famous x264, everything points to it being the best quality encoder available anywhere) and decoders (libavcodec), it's just that a bazillion companies have patents that cover every corner of video coding. It might be "unfree", but it's certainly not "closed source" or "closed standard" or "proprietary".

Ogg for Ubuntu One Music Store & this won't ma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117612)

I'm going to go out on a limb and say I'll accept Canonical's non-free components in a separated section as long as you are clearly notified whenever something non-free is going to be installed, but Canonical makes it a primary initiative NOT to market non-free software/components/services, and the only the only reason they offer "critical" non-free software at all is to increase resources in the free software camp to drive programs in developing alternatives to non-free software that don't currently exist. What Canonical needs to do differently for instance is offer music in Ogg Vorbis format through their Ubuntu One Music Store. I'm wondering why they don't. I suspect it has to do with licensing or contractual issues. Otherwise it probably would have been done already. A few lines of code and the back-end could convert any Mp3 to Ogg Vorbis before the user downloads it even.

this will help (1)

metasonix (650947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117662)

....all those unsophisticated Ubuntu users who just want their multimedia playback to work, without messing with "multiverse", and sources.list edits, and .deb packages, and dire warnings about violating copyright laws in the US. Everyone installs that stuff anyway, so Canonical might as well pay the fees.

And BTW, can we please be free of Flash now?.....

H.264 IS OPEN SOURCE!!!! (1)

halfdan the black (638018) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117666)

There are countless open source H.264 encoders and decoders available for Linux.

H.264 may be patented in the US (for now), but is most certainly IS OPEN SOURCE!!!

The US and possibly Europe (could be wrong) are the only places where the patent is even valid.

I APLAUD Shuttleworth for making the lives of his users more enjoyable without having to go out and track down codecs. I for one am more than happy to pay the small cost to license these as long as I can watch video without trouble.

Re:H.264 IS OPEN SOURCE!!!! (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117876)

We can argue symantecs till the end of time but isn't a patented, open-source piece of software an oxymoron? I mean I am not exactly jumping for joy and screaming yay that I can use it because I might have the patent trolls jump all over me.

Re:H.264 IS OPEN SOURCE!!!! (1)

kidjan (844535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118002)

We can argue symantecs till the end of time but isn't a patented, open-source piece of software an oxymoron? I mean I am not exactly jumping for joy and screaming yay that I can use it because I might have the patent trolls jump all over me.

No, it's not even remotely an "oxymoron"; open source isn't about giving up your property rights. It's about _respecting_ property rights. This is why open source projects _include a license_, and that license stipulates how people may use the project in detail. How is me requiring people open source projects that use my property any different than me requesting they pay me to use my property? In either scenario, I am putting forth the stipulations for use. If you're against paying to use property, so be it, but don't make the mistake of thinking open source code is devoid of property rights.

Re:H.264 IS OPEN SOURCE!!!! (3, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118114)

We can argue symantecs

Or, we could argue Nortons and McAffees.

symantecs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32118222)

That's the best misspelling of semantics I've seen yet.

Re:H.264 IS OPEN SOURCE!!!! (0)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118076)

The US and possibly Europe (could be wrong) are the only places where the patent is even valid.

That's nonsense. Heaps of countries have trade agreements where they respect each other's patents. A US patent is basically valid in most of the world where patent law is respected.

Re:H.264 IS OPEN SOURCE!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32118352)

No. Software patents are not valid in Europe, so the US is the only place in the world these patents are valid, except maybe for some country I don't know about.

A few individual country's payed off politicians are trying to act as they are, but they are not. Not a single software patent has ever been held up in a european court.

You are correct about hardware patents though. Those are valid in many parts of the world.

Only in uhhmericuh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117708)

Seriously, are people bitching that someone went out and gave them a new capability? Not being able to play h.264 is, in some bizarro freetard world, _better_ than being able to play it??

That article is wrong. (2, Informative)

kidjan (844535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117774)

First of all, H264 is not a "closed-source..codec"--this is complete nonsense. The standard itself is completely published and documented, and there is nothing stopping open source projects from creating H264 encoder and decoders. And have they ever--hands down, the best H264 encoder implementation today is x264, which is licensed under the GPL. The patent issue is totally separate, but let's not conflate "patented" with "open source." The real issue with H264 is who will pay royalties for the patents. For Windows 7 and OSX, MSFT and APPL pay those royalties. In the case of Ubuntu, it makes it easier for commercial entities to distribute Ubuntu if they know royalties and licensing fees are already being handled. So to be honest, this just makes Ubuntu an easier sell to PC manufacturers because they aren't liable for royalty costs or hidden "gotchas"

The pragmatist (4, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117844)

H.264 licensors include fifteen of the biggest names in global manufacturing and tech.

Mitsubishi. NTT. Philips. Samsung. Toshiba....

The 817 licensees include hundreds of other names the geek should recognize.

H.264 support is in the cell phones they make.

Web cams. Camcorders. Video game consoles. Mobile Internet devices and PCs of every description. Industrial and security video. Broadcast, cable and satellite technologies.

Theatrical production and home video. The set-top box. The Internet enabled HDTV.

Mozilla's Firefox can ignore H.264 in the browser.

But Mozilla can't keep Amazon.com from stocking 3,500 flavors of the H.264 HD camcorder, priced from $125-$5,000.

It can't get shelf space for the non-existent Theora or VP8 product in WalMart.

There are some things a commercially viable OEM Linux PC must deliver at retail. H.264 support is one of them. It needs to be in hardware. it needs to competitive - and it needs to be there today.
   

Great news for Ubuntu (1)

gig (78408) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117908)

H.264 is the online successor to the DVD. It's quality and universality is worth paying for. This is great news for Ubuntu.

why? (1)

chowdahhead (1618447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117916)

I don't really see why this is necessary. Canonical already sells the Fluendo codec pack in their store, and packages can be purchased online directly from Fluendo as well. It could have been left to the user to decide to purchase a license or not.

A great step forward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117946)

Somewhere along the way in the last few decades, people seem to have forgotten the original idea behind open-source software development. At some point, it no longer was enough that algorithms be published and readily available, or that the code to some cool application was available in case someone wanted to see how it worked, or perhaps improve it even if they weren't working for the company that produced it: everything must also be available free of charge for anyone to use under the surprisingly strict terms of the GPL.

It's not difficult to see why H.264 is in use basically everywhere these days: it's a technically superior format with plenty of corporate backing, an outstanding open-source encoder, widespread hardware support, a sound legal basis, and the codec has been carefully and successfully marketed to content providers, consumer electronics manufacturers and amateurs alike. It has won out over its competitors for a good reason, and despite the licensing fees associated, the specifications are available for anyone to inspect. In short, it's the superior product, and in the end, isn't that what matters?

Now if only Mozilla would follow suit. They claim to be championing the cause of open Web standards, but Flash is basically an automatic download these days.

THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32117960)

Debian Project should IMMEDIATELY cease allowing Ubuntu to use all Debian assets until such time as they reconsider this move.
Open Source is for OPEN SOURCE and not SELLING OUT!
Anyone who uses closed source code on Linux is a HYPOCRITE!

GIVE ME SOURCE (FREEDOM) OR GIVE ME DEATH!

I have seen the comparisons... (1, Insightful)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32117992)

...and found nothing superior about H.264 over Theora.

This "H.264 is superior" is a myth, astroturfing at it best.

I have no doubt the main drive for H.264 is political, specially since they are insisting on codec exclusivity. Codec always used to be pluggable but now Apple and Microsoft have decided that they are only going to allow their codec. How am I not to guess this is yet another underhanded stab at open source?

Re:I have seen the comparisons... (5, Insightful)

kidjan (844535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32118274)

Are you serious? http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=102 [multimedia.cx] In particular, http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/quality_chart1.png [multimedia.cx] No contest, Theora gets whooped. So do most h264 implementations, compared to x264 for that matter, which is probably why most companies these days are moving towards that encoder implementation.

Ffreaking Market Share $$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32118238)

Ubuntu Linux the new monopoly.

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