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Automatix 'Actively Dangerous' to Ubuntu

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the don't-tread-on-me dept.

GUI 284

exeme writes "Ubuntu developer Matthew Garrett has recently analyzed famed Ubuntu illegal software installer Automatix, and found it to be actively dangerous to Ubuntu desktop systems. In a detailed report which only took Garrett a couple of hours he found many serious, show-stopper bugs and concluded that Ubuntu could not officially support Automatix in its current state. Garrett also goes on to say that simple Debian packages could provide all of the functionality of Automatix without any of the problems it exhibits."

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284 comments

Illegal? (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116317)

Illegal for them to distribute, or illegal for the user to download?

Re:Illegal? (5, Informative)

solcott (1002711) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116373)

Illegal for them to distribute, or illegal for the user to download?
Neither, in some countries it can be used to obtain illegal software. For example giving residents of the United States the ability to play copy protected DVD's or audio compressed with mp3 without the user paying a royalty fee. Automatix in itself is no more illegal than Firefox or Internet Explorer, they are also just tools that "could" be used for illegal purposes, like viewing child pornography.

Re:Illegal? (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116591)

Neither, in some countries it can be used to obtain illegal software...Automatix in itself is no more illegal than Firefox or Internet Explorer
Exactly. I can download the same packages that it does with any Web browser or wget. The summary is inaccurate when it says that the package is 'illegal'. If the package is illegal, then so is Firefox and wget, both of which can be used to download packages that may be in violation of the DMCA or of patent laws or of the GPL (as in the case of nVidia or ATI drivers).

As TFA points out, it also gives dubious legal advice. Downloading MP3 codecs or Win32 codecs is far from a crime in the United States. For example, for the Microsoft-created codecs like WMA or WMV, Microsoft only requests that you have a Windows license in order to download them, but does nothing to prevent you from downloading them (WGA checks are not required, for instance.) It could be argued that as long as one has a valid Windows license, using them on Linux is not illegal. As for MP3 or other patent-encumbered codecs, it is a violation of patent law to distribute such codecs. Whether it is a violation of patent law to use or download these codecs without paying a license is a legal gray area.

OTOH, downloading libdvdcss may, in fact, be a violation of the DMCA.

Note that I'm not a lawyer, and if you're looking for legal advice, go pay one.

Re:Illegal? (3, Interesting)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116891)

What if libdvdcss was made before the DMCA? Wouldnt that make it legal?

Re:Illegal? (4, Interesting)

jZnat (793348) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116925)

Besides the fact that it wasn't, I believe the problem is distributing the software today as the action that violates the DMCA. As confusing as it is, it is not illegal to use libdvdcss, DeCSS, or anything like that, but it is illegal to distribute it (as far as the DMCA says; it could be legal to distribute it as protected free speech, but I don't know if anyone has tried to use that defence since the MPAA backed off in the DVDJon case).

Re:Illegal? (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116697)

The summary said "illegal software installer", which could be read as not implying that the "software installer" is illegal, but that it installs illegal software.

Now the "illegality" depends on which software you install and your local laws. I think that the DVD decoder violates the DMCA (is that right?), and MP3 encoders/decoders is a dicier issue. IANAL, but AFAIK you are not required to pay for an MP3 patent license for using an MP3 encoder or decoder, but only if you're distributing MP3 encoders, decoders, or MP3s. So there it's probably legal for users to have and use, but possibly illegal for distros to include.

However, I think sometimes distros steer clear in just to be on the safe side. I don't know-- like I don't really understand whether LAME is legal or not. They used to distribute it uncompiled and say it was for educational purposes, because otherwise they would have to pay a license fee for distributing (hence the name Lame Ain't an Mp3 Encoder, right?) But then they said they engineered their way around the patent issues and they have been distributing it for a while now. Still, some distros seem hesitant to include it.

So yeah, I don't get what the deal is with all of this stuff, legally.

Re:Illegal? Misleading and Misconstrued FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116569)

Legal issues associated with Automatix are complex, but to refer to Automatix as wholly being 'illegal' is far from accurate.

The majority of legal issues deal with the use of proprietary software in conjunction with the GPL.

Some legal issues are relative to the end-users physical location. IIRC, Automatix offers access to a few video codecs that may be illegal to use in the U .S. but are perfectly legal in other countries.

Garrett's complaints are actually relatively benign and reflect the views typical of certain Linux developers who consider themselves 'purists'.

Yes, Automatix has some bugs and a few 'security' concerns relating to user privileges. It is not, however, inherently dangerous or illegal.

Re:Illegal? Misleading and Misconstrued FUD (4, Informative)

cortana (588495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116599)

Erm, did you even read the analysis? Automatix craps untracked files all over the user's system. It makes to effort to interoperate with Ubuntu's package manager (dpkg) and is even prone to race conditions that could leave the system unbootable!

Re:Illegal? Misleading and Misconstrued FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20117051)

Yes I read RTFA. I also use Automatix. If it scares you, don't use the fucking software.

Alternately, learn Linux so that you might know what you're talking about.

Re:Illegal? Misleading and Misconstrued FUD (5, Funny)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117111)

... craps untracked files all over the user's system ... makes [no] effort to interoperate with Ubuntu's package manager ... could leave the system unbootable
So it's a K-Lite codec pack for Linux?

Your sig is wrong (3, Funny)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116739)

First, some of my ex GFs have been happy to show me other naked women. It has worked well. You just need to find the right ones.

Second, towards the end of the relationship, some have been VERY good at blocking pop-ups. All have been good at creating pop-ups. So, I would say that your sig is incorrect.

Re:Your sig is wrong (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116899)

Somehow, I don't think your mother throwing a stack of Playboys into the basement counts as 'ex GFs showing you other naked women' ...

Re:Your sig is wrong (1, Funny)

jZnat (793348) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116945)

Tell that to the guy I quoted in there. I believe he goes to GameFAQs.

Re:Illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116951)

It depends on what country you're in. The author of the slashdot submission as being an idiot.

Re:Illegal? (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117021)

The guy who made the summary is an expert at bastardizing terms, either way, it is for proprietary things that are free and non-redistributable...

FUD (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116319)

I have used automatix on 50+ installs of ubuntu edgy and feisty... Not one problem yet.

Re:FUD (5, Funny)

e5150 (938030) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116663)

Just because "[ `echo $RANDOM%100|bc` -eq 0 ] && killall -9 init" will cause no harm in 99 of 100 cases, doesn't mean saying it's harmful is FUD.

Re:FUD (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116699)

Have you tried upgrading those systems? or have you looked at the source code? Apparently it does things like kill dpkg indiscriminately before installing something, rather than actually handling the error. This isn't the first time I've heard people rant about automatix.

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116809)

I have used this on tons of installations, no issues. If you guys hate it so much the source code on the project is open. Fix it yourself.

Illegal software installer? (0)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116323)

Why would Ubuntu consider looking at such a thing?
Am I missing something here?

Re:Illegal software installer? (4, Informative)

MrFlannel (762587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116987)

The 'illegal' part of this thing is nothing but a footnote.

The important thing is that it's a stupidly dangerous (to your system) piece of software, that most members of the Ubuntu community are trying to inform everyone about. A lot of community sites swear by it, and when anyone argues they give the 'it works fine for me' argument.

This is not the mentality we want to have as a linux community. The automatix team refuses to make their software better, and launced a few all-out assaults on the communities that warn against it. Even going as far as to say (on their website, up until a few months ago) if you go ask help for automatix in their IRC channel, and claim that the people in the ubuntu channel sent you there, they (automatix team) won't help you. Which is stupid in and of itself, but that's the mentality that the automatix people have exhibited time and time again.

Because of this, and in some random attempt to clear their piece of software (and argue about it's proper terminology whether 'package manager' or 'packaging script' or whatever), and to get their lead developer (arnieboy) unbanned from the ubuntu forums (for trolling, more or less), they went to the Forum Council and petitioned, the forum council rejected some stuff, and said that they shouldn't make a decision on the technical merits (since they're not technically qualified or whatever). I imagine this is the fruit of their lack-of-verdict, someone higher up (who was qualified to assess its technical merits) finally took a semi-official look.

I wish I had links for the meeting, here it is: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MeetingLogs/ForumCouncil/2 007May18/Logs [ubuntu.com]

Old News (5, Informative)

solcott (1002711) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116329)

This is old news, well Automatix being dangerous in general I mean not Mr. Gattett's report. Automatix has been referred to by many as a tool to "enhance" Ubuntu by lazy users who do not care about system security or stability since Breezy Badger.

Re:Old News (2, Insightful)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116793)

Automatix has been referred to by many as a tool to "enhance" Ubuntu by lazy users who do not care about system security or stability since Breezy Badger.
Or in other words, people who quite rightly find installing things like codecs and then having to modify countless config files so the media player and the browser can use them either difficult or, quite rightly, a bloody ridiculous thing to have to do.

When Linux distros finally sort out the farce that is installing vendor provided graphics card drivers, software and codecs etc, then tools like Automatix won't be needed.

Re:Old News (2, Informative)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116919)

When Linux distros finally sort out the farce that is installing vendor provided graphics card drivers, software and codecs etc, then tools like Automatix won't be needed.

I use Linux, have all of those things, and I've never even heard of Automatix. I'm not using Ubuntu though.

Re:Old News (2, Informative)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117101)

When Linux distros finally sort out the farce that is installing vendor provided graphics card drivers, software and codecs etc, then tools like Automatix won't be needed.

Ubuntu handles all that stuff with less problem than finding and installing Automatix.

Automatix *isn't* needed.

I think it screws up when upgrading. (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116345)

Automatix is a really nice idea.

But I noticed that all the Ubuntu distros, which it is installed upon, get a range of problems with upgrading to the next release of Ubuntu.

Automatix is not as necessary as it once one, codecs are done by Ubuntu itself in the meantime - Automatix was good two years back when it was a PITA to get DVDs and mp3s to play without editing files and going crazy on the command line.

It still is nice to use to install some programs like virtualbox, but the problems it causes are not worth it.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (-1, Flamebait)

mboverload (657893) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116385)

Linux can not become mainstream if it can not even play MP3s out of the box. That's fucking lame.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (1, Insightful)

solcott (1002711) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116409)

Linux is a kernel sir, not an operating system. What kernels do you know of that can play mp3?

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116527)

solaris. Sending an audio file to /dev/audiof will play it. They use a plugin architecture to play the files, but wav, aiff, au, and mp3 support are standard.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (3, Insightful)

jZnat (793348) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116967)

Does this run in user space or kernel space? If kernel space, I hope they've developed the most secure decoders possible without any side-effects!

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (5, Informative)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116439)

I appreciate your zeal on the subject, but if Ubuntu distributed MP3 without paying for the license in certain countries (like USA), they would be in serious legal trouble. However, in Ubuntu 7.04, it will automatically install the proper decoder for you the first time you try to play an MP3. It works, it's painless, and it's the best we can do until we get someone in Congress (or your respective national legislature) brave enough to destroy software patents.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (2, Interesting)

OmegaBlac (752432) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116489)

I highly doubt the ability to play mp3s out the box is what is keeping GNU/Linux from reaching mainstream acceptance. More like a certain software company in Redmond engaging in illegal/unethical business practices to keep its OS the main preinstalled OS on OEM machines, lack of commercial software that is only available for Windows that users require, slow (but steadly growing) desktop adoption rate by businesses and government, vendor-lockin, ease of Windows piracy, desktop monopoly in most US schools, and hardware compatibility. The ability to play mp3s is very low on the list of things keeping GNU/Linux from mainstream success. It will get their one day, just takes time and everyday that list gets shorter.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (1)

Nosferatu Alucard (713350) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116627)

I listen to music constantly while on my computer. It took me several hours to figure out how to install MP3 support when I first tried Linux. Even then, I couldn't play my videos either, which annoyed me. I dropped it because i had no reason to switch yet. My sister was forced to use linux when I lost my windows disks. The only reason she gave me for not wanting to keep it? She couldn't use flash on 64bit linux, which prevented her from listening to music on Purevolume. She even told me today that she misses the OS, but wished she could use flash. Music means a lot to some people.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (2, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116719)

Why'd you give her 64 bit Linux? Does her computer have more than 3 gigs of RAM?

In a year or two we may be to the point where a 64 bit OS is essential, but we're not there yet. Give your non-technical friends the 32 bit version.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (1, Informative)

jonom (109588) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117337)

Mod parent up!

On a lot of support forums I see people having trouble with 64 bit Linux, I guess they figure they have a 64 bit chip so they have to install a 64 bit OS -- even though there are warnings all over the place about compatibility issues.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (4, Informative)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117043)

I listen to music constantly while on my computer. It took me several hours to figure out how to install MP3 support when I first tried Linux. Even then, I couldn't play my videos either, which annoyed me. I dropped it because i had no reason to switch yet. My sister was forced to use linux when I lost my windows disks. The only reason she gave me for not wanting to keep it? She couldn't use flash on 64bit linux, which prevented her from listening to music on Purevolume. She even told me today that she misses the OS, but wished she could use flash. Music means a lot to some people.

To get Flash working on 64-bit Linux, try searching your distro's software repository for "nspluginwrapper". Technically it's a bit of a hack, but from a user's perspective it's fairly transparent at getting 32-bit browser plugins to work on 64-bit platforms.

Debian, at least, has it.

Also on Debian, to get MP3 and video codecs add http://www.debian-multimedia.org/ [debian-multimedia.org] to your list of repositories, either in the Synaptic GUI, or in /etc/apt/sources.list. It's been a while since I first started using it, and I think you might have to reinstall or upgrade some packages that depends on the codecs, but after it's setup it works just like the official repositories.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (2, Informative)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117065)

> She couldn't use flash on 64bit linux

I know you're just trying to rant, but in case anybody else is interested:

sudo su -
echo 'deb http://janvitus.interfree.it/ubuntu/ [interfree.it] feisty-upure64 main-amd64' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/jantivus.list
apt-get update
apt-get install nspluginwrapper

and voila, you can use the flash plugin on 64bit linux.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (2, Interesting)

poolmeister (872753) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116587)

'Linux' will never play MP3s on it's own as Linux is a kernel and there are no built in kernel modules that play media files.

Then again there are plenty of Linux distributions that play MP3s on a fresh install, my personal favorite being Linux Mint [linuxmint.com] which is a reworked Ubuntu distro with non-free software included by default.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116619)

Which of course contradicts the other lemma of Linux popularity: Linux can not become mainstream if I have to pay for it.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (1)

poolmeister (872753) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116727)

"Which of course contradicts the other lemma of Linux popularity: Linux can not become mainstream if I have to pay for it."

I meant non-free as in freedom, it is still free as in gratis (zero-paid).

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116655)

Linux can not become mainstream if it can not even play MP3s out of the box. That's fucking lame.
Pfffffffffft. MP3s are so 1999, real men use FLAC!

Destructive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116407)

You might as well run

sudo /usr/lib/klibc/bin/nuke /

beofore upgrading.

Re:I think it screws up when upgrading. (1)

forgot_my_nick (1138413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116773)

I've used, and discarded, every version of Ubuntu since 5.04, except the most recent. Despite my growing irrational dislike of Ubuntu (it's so brown!), one thing I have never found difficult was installing multimedia codecs, libdvdcss and the like. They even have step by step instructions in their wiki!

Their really is no excuse and never was one for using Automatix. It usually took me longer to get X running at the correct resolution in Ubuntu than it did installing the multimedia stuff. If I remember correctly it just takes adding "universe", "multiverse" and possibly a 3rd party repository, depending on the version.

       

warez? (2, Funny)

muridae (966931) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116351)

Wait, Ubuntu has a warez installer? Isn't the point of Linux to not need to pirate a copy of Office 2009 Blue Screen Edition?

Re:warez? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116435)

Duh. Linux is made up of nothing but warezed commercial software, most from Microsoft. Everyone knows that.

Re:warez? (2, Informative)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116445)

It is not warez. It is codecs, closed source software and other stuff you don't get in your basic install. But with 7.04 most the things Automatix does is useless, since it is equally easy to do the same thing in add/remove.

Could someone clarify why it is illegal? (1)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116355)

Neither automatix site or the article clarifies where the "illegal" comes from.

Re:Could someone clarify why it is illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116421)

Its your national bird. The golden eagle, chicken hawk or one of those birds. Its sick, really poorly. It could die and needs your help. Support the World Wildlife fund!!

But seriously... its a metaphor for the sad state of the copyrights system in the US.

Re:Could someone clarify why it is illegal? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116453)

From Automatix [getautomatix.com]:

AUD-DVD codecs (NON-FREE Audio and DVD codecs) (Installation of this option is illegal in the United States of America)

Re:Could someone clarify why it is illegal? (2, Informative)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116715)

Automatix provides w32codecs, a package that's likely to be illegal in most countries that respect copyright. It's a set of DLLs and other code libraries used for decoding videos in Windows. It has about 60 codecs from unidentified sources with no particular attention to licensing that I can see. This package is often used as a workaround for Linux's generally poor support for video playback.

It's a question of whether you want to gamble that large software companies will continue to look the other way on your infringement or not.

Re:Could someone clarify why it is illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116897)

Thanks to the great work by the Gstreamer guys, it's not really neede anymore though. Just one or two releases ago, it was more or less a must have to play a lot of stuff, but I've been running Ubuntu 7.04 since the release in April and haven't needed it yet. :)

Note: it's not that Gstreamer can play everything, just that I haven't encountered anything it couldn't yet.

Why? (3, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116367)

I read this while it was in the Firehose, and came up with one question: Why?

What would this tool provide above apt and dpkg? A graphical way of installing programs? There are front ends for dpkg and apt like Synaptic that don't have any of these downsides. Is this just to get things like some of these codecs? That has always been available through other package repositories. You just add a line to the config file (or use a program like Synaptic which lets you do the same thing) and all those packages just show up and work great.

I could see it a bit if it helped with commercial applications (like Click-N-Run does). But reading this stuff I just wonder... what was the point of using a program like this on a Debian based distro? Even with it's faults, even Yum makes these seem quite unnecessary.

So I ask: has anyone used this? Why?

Re:Why? (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116601)

Commonly, because it offers point and click access to w32codecs, mp3 playback and stuff like opera that is not packaged by Ubuntu. Canonical tried to solve this by hosting a commercial repository, but some of the things users want are simply not legally compatible with distributing software for free.

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116733)

The summary is misleading... in particular the use of the word "illegal."

Automatix is a utility that automates the installation of a bunch of software that is considered "must have" for people just switching to Ubuntu. For instance, it installed Firefox, mplayer, wine, DVD playing software, and multimedia codecs. (Actually the installer would just give you a list of things you could install, you select the ones you want and click "next.")

I don't really understand why this is being characterized as "illegal software." The packages are already in the usual repositories. The utility would just automate the installation for you. If you live in a country where installing one of those packages is somehow illegal (is this actually the case?), then that's your responsibility. The tool is just an automator intended to ease the transition for new users. It really provides nothing above and beyond the standard packaging interface, except that it was easier (in some people's opinion) to tell new users "install automatix" rather than telling them to open the package manager and list the software they should install.

In any case, the whole argument seems rather pointless. Automatix was created a few years ago, at a time where installation of things like multimedia codecs was perhaps non-obvious. New users were flooding forums with repeated requests like "my mp3s don't play! why?" and "how can I play DVDs on this Ubuntu thing?" Automatix was created as a simple response to that.

In the meantime, Ubuntu has, from what I can tell, cleared up these issues. Installation of codecs is straightforward and pretty obvious. The package manager is very user friendly. In short, there is no need for Automatix. Basically, Automatix was an ugly hack. It's always been recognized as such, and developers have always discouraging people from using it. On the Ubuntu forums, the standard advice is no longer "install Automatix," since it is recognized to be a non-optimal solution.

So, in short... I think this issue has already passed us by.

Re:Why? (0, Troll)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117331)

The term "illegal" was used to mean "Software which is being used in a manner which is not allowed by its owners and in many cases is expressly disallowed by the license agreement". Automatix was conceived so that it could violate the licenses of almost everything it installed and Ubuntu wouldn't have to.

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116753)

The reason for Automatix is to make a freshly post-Windows user happy. Automatix configures + installs everything as close to what a Windows user would want. That means p2p, proprietary codecs, FileZilla and other nice GUI applications for everything. It's what Windows users are used to, they don't really know any different, this application is meant to make them at home. Of course YOU don't understand because having used Linux for a while (or read about it or understood it), you have different user habits than the traditional Windows using YouTube/MySpace crowd etc.

Personally I'm happy that these people are trying out Linux, and if they find it suits them, than great. Sure, they're using stuff that might infringe, just like they would be on Windows. There are even "illegal codec packs" for Windows as well, it's impossible to properly license every codec to play every file released, but Windows users are used to having everything bundled so they don't have to worry about dependancies. Programs in Windows are not normally so modular so users expect all claimed supported functionality to be implemented and present in every application.

However, they may eventually get used to different Linux applications and doing things the OSS way and like that experience, so why prevent them from getting settled and discovering these other elements as they slowly ween themselves from the Windows world? They may just eventually change their ways. If we make them comfortable, they'll be more likely to do so. If we just yell "no!" and put a gun to their head, they might just act resentful and not open their minds. WE don't have to use the software, just don't download it, it's a choice. I'm not even developing that software, I wouldn't use it, and I don't PREFER the idea that others are, but it's leading them to Linux in ways that they wouldn't have experienced had people just said "no", and the more ways to experience Linux, the better.

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117187)

That stuff is exactly what the "ubuntu-restricted-extras" package is for.

Rather than screw around with Automatix, perhaps someone should post the following script instructions:

  1. Enable the universe and multiverse repositories. (System -> Administration -> Software Sources ; Check the "Universe" and "Multiverse" checkboxes. ; Press the "close" button. )
  2. Install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package. (Applications -> Add/Remove... ; Set the "show" drop down in the top right to "All available applicatons. ; Type "ubuntu-restricted-extras" into the search box. ; Check that package. ; Press OK. )
  3. (Optional) Activate encrypted DVD support. (Open a terminal window. Type "sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/install-css.sh" and press enter.)

I really don't see how installing some random script off a website and then messing with a new GUI program is any easier than that.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20117173)

With the default repository list "apt-get update" takes about one hour and forty five minutes to complete over dial-up! Pretty ridiculous if you just want to install one 1.3MB package like libmotif3 which itself only takes about 7 minutes to download. It is far more practical to search the web for the package you want, download it and then install it with dpkg.

The default repository list in QNX only takes a few minutes minutes to update on dial-up, why does apt-get update need to download approximately 20MB of data just to get a list of packages? I would think only a few hundred kilobytes of data would be all that is needed to contain a list of packages and their locations.

If automatix can provide a list of packages over dial-up in less than 1h45m then it is an improvement over apt or any guis that use it.

"...could provide..." (4, Insightful)

haeger (85819) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116369)

Garrett also goes on to say that simple Debian packages could provide all of the functionality of Automatix without any of the problems it exhibits.

Automatix only exists because there is a need for it. If it's so simple to make the package provide the functionality, why hasn't anyone done it? Automatix seems to be the (only?) ones who have tried to do something that many people need.

.haeger

Re:"...could provide..." (4, Informative)

imroy (755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116629)

If it's so simple to make the package provide the functionality, why hasn't anyone done it?

They have. There's Debian-Multimedia [debian-multimedia.org], which has been around for a few years. I know there's one or two specific to Ubuntu, five minutes Googling will probably find one. I've been using D-M for years now and have not had a problem. Automatix is an ugly hack and should be avoided at all costs.

Re:"...could provide..." (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116651)

I imagine it's because of the legal issues involved. Debian/Ubuntu doesn't want to create the packages because they like not being sued/arrested/whatever, and nobody else has simply because they aren't used to making them.

Whoever wrote Automatix is probably a programmer and not a package maintainer, and simply did what he was most comfortable with.

Creating packages would have been the -proper- way, but we all know how much the 'proper way' is enforced when the product is questionably legal at best. (Alright, maybe some of us dont'... Here's a hint: It isn't.)

Now that an 'official' developer has pointed out the 'proper' way, you can pretty much bet someone will do it just to prove whether it can or cannot be done. I really don't -care- and I'm considering it already. I've managed to set up my Kubuntu just like I like it without tedious command line editing (admittedly, I don't find it tedious) or using Automatix. Add an apt source for codecs, uncomment a few for multi-verse, add the commercial repository line... Voila. Happy as a pig in shit.

Re:"...could provide..." (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116747)

The problem's that Automatix was designed to solve no longer exist. Installing all that stuff the official way is trivial in any recent version of Ubuntu.

The only reason people still use Automatix is this: Either they remember using it before when it served a purpose and don't know any better, or someone who doesn't know any better tells them to use it.

I never understood (2, Insightful)

Tom9729 (1134127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116389)

I never understood why Automatix was necessary. Why not just make a "Proprietary software" repository?

Re:I never understood (4, Informative)

cortana (588495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116649)

They already have; the repositories are called 'restricted' and 'multiverse' (the former is supported by Canonical, the latter is not).

Re:I never understood (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116749)

Canonical did exactly that, but it turns out there's two problems.
* It's hard to get people to give you permission to redistribute their software
* It's hard to get people to allow the above without per copy costs

Many of the people who follow both those guidelines already have their own repos set up. Opera hosts a debian repo, for example. Arguably, it's much better for these descriptions to be available in one place, like Canonical's commercial repo, and some smart companies get that. But I doubt you'll ever see w32codecs available like this.

Illegal? (5, Funny)

fuffer (600365) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116393)

What, if you use it do a bunch of pale-skinned 100 pound guys with electronics-laden belts show up at your house, and after they fail at kicking in your door stand outside your house and yell things about RPM's and VI and stuff? Cause that would be cool...

If its broken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20117069)

then hurry up and fix it, you open-sourced bitches! Seriously, get on it so I can reap the benefits.

Actively Dangerous? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116403)

Using Ubuntu is also actively dangerous to your anal virginity [gaybuntu.com].

Automatix not needed anymore (3, Informative)

realdodgeman (1113225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116459)

After the launh Ubuntu 7.04 Automatix isn't worth using anymore. Codecs are easily installed with add/remove, as is most of the other software in Automatix' repositories. And the few programs that you can't find in add/remove are mostly published as .deb packages. Google has even made a .exe like installer for google earth.

Money quote (2, Insightful)

Yath (6378) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116461)

A more reasonable method of integrating Automatix's functionality into
Ubuntu would be for the Automatix team to provide deb files to act as
installers for the software currently provided.


Duh

Slashdot Spin, as per usual... (4, Informative)

gunny01 (1022579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116473)

There nothing inherently illegal about Automatix: it just allows you to break the DMCA.

The article is a technical crictism of Automatix, how it doesn't follow proper package rules, etc.

This is the conclusion to the article, which sums it up pretty well

Automatix exists to satisfy a genuine need, and further work should be
carried out to determine whether these user requirements can be
satisfied within the distribution as a whole. However, in its current
form Automatix is actively dangerous to systems - ranging from damage
to small items of user configuration, through removing user-installed
packages without adequate prompting or warning and up to the (small
but existing) potential to leave a system in an unbootable state.

The current design of Automatix precludes any reasonable way to fix
some of these problems. It is attempting to fulfil the role of a
high-level package manager without actually handling any sort of
dependency resolution itself.

A more reasonable method of integrating Automatix's functionality into
Ubuntu would be for the Automatix team to provide deb files to act as
installers for the software currently provided. These could then be
installed through the existing package manager interfaces. This would
solve many of the above problems while still providing the same level
of functionality.

In its current form Automatix is unsupportable, and a mechanism for
flagging bugs from machines with Automatix installed may provide a
valuable aid for determining whether issues are due to supported
distribution packages or third party software installers.


Automatix is barely needed anymore. You can do just about anything through the standard repos these days.

Re:Slashdot Spin, as per usual... (4, Informative)

theantix (466036) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116687)

"There nothing inherently illegal about Automatix: it just allows you to break the DMCA."

Incorrect. Distributing w32codecs and other proprietary software without permission violates traditional copyright law, not just DMCA provisions.

Bigger Question (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117277)

Who cares?

No, not trolling, asking a serious question. What end user really cares its 'illegal' in some jurisdictions for them to use their PC as they wish?

(jesus fish here) (5, Funny)

weak* (1137369) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116559)

As long as it doesn't damage my Ubuntu Christian Edition install, which it won't, because God doesn't want it to.

You wish your system had security like that.

Re:(jesus fish here) (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116609)

Brahma created my version of ubuntu, vishnu maintains it with security updates, and shiva destroys the non-beleiver programs.

Re:(jesus fish here) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116893)

yeah.. but who provides tech support for *that* distro ????

Re:(jesus fish here) (3, Funny)

Count_Froggy (781541) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116971)

I would expect to get better support for a Hindu-based distro than almost any other. Have you called a tech support line lately??

I wish I had mod points right now (1)

mad zambian (816201) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117215)

for I would surely have modded you up, Anonymous cow herder.
Still cackling quietly to myself. Excellent comment.

Re:(jesus fish here) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20116683)

Mwahaha ... I had a good laugh when I first saw that distro available on distrowatch.

Re:(jesus fish here) (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116931)

My Ubuntu Christian Edition is great. Reinstalling every three days sometimes gets a little annoying though.

It begins.... (-1, Redundant)

shird (566377) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116659)

All the "problems" of MS Windows which really are the fault of third party apps are starting to show signs in other OS's too. Hopefully this will start to shut those fanboys up who think that an OS is broken just because someone wrote a buggy application to run on it.

One of the many reasons I moved back to Fedora... (1)

bealzabobs_youruncle (971430) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116705)

was the way the Ubuntu community is currently leaning on stuff like this (and the envy installers, and a few other items). The quality of HOW-TOs and user created documentation has plummeted since Dapper Drake and there is little interest in the community to acknowledge this. Instead of answering questions and fixing problems a lot of the community has taken to relying on stuff like this; this doesn't teach the user or provide feedback for developers. In the rush to be all inclusive and the "everyman" distribution Ubuntu's community has dinged it's technical image in the eyes of some users. I still think Ubuntu is great and I'm glad someone with some technical weight is making these points. I hope I don't have to point out that I am not condemning all of the Ubuntu community or the many fine contributions a lot of people at Canonical, Debian or the Linux community at large is providing.

The core value of making Linux easier to manage for the masses is a great cause and you can see many distros making huge gains in usability thanks to the popularity of Ubuntu. That said, the current state of the community and user made docs has gone down over the last year, let's hope comments like this turn it around as I really miss my apt-get (and yes, I know there is an apt tool for RPM distros, but when in Rome...).

Re:One of the many reasons I moved back to Fedora. (1)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116759)

In the rush to be all inclusive and the "everyman" distribution Ubuntu's community has dinged it's technical image in the eyes of some users.
That was the ENTIRE POINT OF UBUNTU - to make a distro easy for everyone to use. If you want technical, go somewhere else. As Loonix zealots keep bleating, the reason there's 50 million distros is so you can choose one you like.

And the reason Automatix exists? (-1, Troll)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116741)

And the reason Automatix exists? Because Linux is fucking hard to work with as a newbie, especially installing CODECS and making sure everything can find them, so someone came up with a GUI point'n'clicky tool.

The people I think who are trying to de-rail Automatix are the very same Loonix nutjobs who say everything should be done by CLI and if you can't do that, stick to Windows.

Re:And the reason Automatix exists? (1)

Count_Froggy (781541) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116983)

Why not just use a distro that HAS the codecs in the default repositories? It just takes a little research to find one of the MANY.

Re:And the reason Automatix exists? (4, Insightful)

mjg59 (864833) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117099)

Given that I'm the one who wrote that article, and given that most of the code I've recently written is designed to avoid the need for users to touch the command line, that doesn't seem likely.

What about EasyUbuntu? (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116755)

http://easyubuntu.freecontrib.org/ [freecontrib.org]

Seems to have the same goals - but does it have the same issues?

Re:What about EasyUbuntu? (1)

Conor Turton (639827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20116855)

No because Brahma approves of EasyUbuntu :(

If it were all about illegal CODECS and packages, then Brahma would insist on them not being available through Add/Remove in 7.04 but here they are.

The bloke is as two faced as hell.

Re:What about EasyUbuntu? (2, Interesting)

thephotoman (791574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117079)

EasyUbuntu is better, but it's still not ideal. It retrieves the .debs from upstream and installs them, then leaves everything alone. Unfortunately, it doesn't grab updates.

The ideal solution would add universe and multiverse and then grab everything from there, w32codecs be damned (or installed a la EasyUbuntu. I'm thinking about writing something that does just that.

Ubuntu has its own problems (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117139)

Before the Ubuntu team criticizes add-ons that make the system useful to many more people, they should get their own house in order.

I recently installed a 7.04 system and I found that:
1. The version of RealVNC is broken and possibly insecure.
2. The CDFS-src package is broken, and has been for months.
There are bug reports on both of these issues, yet it does not seem that the Ubuntu team has any interest in fixing them.
3. There does not seem to be any good and easy way to install a firewall. Red Hat seems to have a simple IPTABLES firewall installed as an option in the installation process, why can't Ubuntu do this?

There may be other problems, These are just 2 that I have found. Also my 6.06 LTS system has been unable to connect to open wireless networks since upgrading from 5.10.

So: my message to Canonical is: get your own house in order. Only then should you criticize third-party solutions.

Re:Ubuntu has its own problems (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 6 years ago | (#20117289)

I think IP Tables is installed by default. Is firestarter to control IP Tables from the GUI in the repos still or not?
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