Bear in mind that I am not suggesting we stop supporting other chipsets, rather that we rethink where the Ubuntu development puts their wi-fi chipset support focus. I guess this will be added to the list of gripes new users will have, rather than actually providing a duplicable solution.
Ubuntu going forward
Aside from a couple of minor gripes, I'm quite happy using Ubuntu. As a Linux distribution, it's providing me with the features and functions that I want from an operating system.
Here in the very near future, however, I see Ubuntu needing to make a difficult choice. At some point Ubuntu as a project will need to decide where its priorities really are.
Will the project remain focused on making itself freely available for the end user, while also endearing itself to the open source or FOSS ideals that brought up Linux in the first place?
I think there will come a time where we will see a more commercial approach making its way onto Ubuntu desktops. Not because they are trying to be like Linspire, taking on the goal of maximizing market share. Rather due to the fact that it's already happened.
A music store that uses IP licensed codecs to play music is now one of Ubuntus funding sources. Interestingly, when Linspire offered IP-licensed codecs, people freaked out. Yet when a non-U.S.-based company does the same for Ubuntu, less people seem bothered by it. I'd even go so far as to say most Ubuntu users are okay with Fluendo's mp3 playback options.
But wait, it gets better.
Now Ubuntu has iPhone support. You heard me, I said Ubuntu can now sync your mp3 music to the portable Apple-lock-box known as the iPhone.
I know for a fact that Linux purists must be chomping at the bit when they stop to think about where Ubuntu is headed currently. The Ubuntu of today may not be offering much in the way of a proprietary experience, but mark my words, the day is coming. I suppose Canonical's philanthropy can only go so far. Eventually, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has to begin earning enough on his investment to make all this worthwhile.
Either Canonical reduces its paid development and support for the Ubuntu desktop completely at some point, or a cash-earning business model needs to rear its ugly head. Linspire knew this from day one.
Apparently the Ubuntu desktop, as a project, believes it can avoid this for a bit longer? It's possible, though limiting on some fronts considering the paid development already involved in Ubuntu's success. At least Ubuntu is able to build up a strong server business. Not sure how long this is going to carry their efforts on the desktop though.
I'd like to point out a few minor things. First, I am not advocating we put up a virtual statue in honor of Linspire, nor am I saying that Ubuntu is how we should expect desktop Linux to behave.
No, this is something that has to be decided by the individual and to a larger extent, the community itself. But I am saying that Ive grown tired of how we collectively demonize anything that does fit into the community's scope of thinking.
In the end, the Linux community will decide collectively what distributions of Linux will be successful and which will fall to an unfortunate fate. Understanding this, I do stand by my belief that even distributions that other Linux users might find distasteful can, in some cases, leave behind lessons for other projects.
Ubuntu, in my mind, did indeed takeaway select lessons from the Linspire legacy. I encourage you to respectfully disagree, but realize that this conclusion did not come without looking honestly at the big picture.
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