Jono Bacon wrote a long blog entry on Planet Ubuntu about his vision of freedom, and how it applies to the proprietary drivers. This is a good opportunity to write sthing I wanted to write for a long time.
Ubuntu’s bug #1 is “Microsoft has a majority market share“. Well, I think that this should be of severity minor or wishlist, not critical. A better bug #1 would be “our priority is our users” (does it ring a bell ?). I find it far more important to improve the satisfaction of people already using a Linux distribution, than to try to convince others to use it.
Most users of Windows have very good reasons for using Windows, like proprietary applications that have no equivalent in the Free Software world. I don’t think that “Linux doesn’t have a 3D desktop” is the major blocker for people not using Linux. Windows doesn’t have a 3D desktop. Many Mac OS X users don’t use the 3D features. I haven’t felt the slightest need to try a 3D desktop, and I’m using GNOME/metacity, so the jump wouldn’t so hard to make to compiz.
I’m not saying that a 3D desktop is not a good idea. Of course, it would be nice to have LiveCDs that just work and start a 3D desktop, so we could show off at conferences. But I haven’t even bothered to google for such LiveCDs.
Sometimes, proprietary drivers are more needed on Linux, for example for people who bought a Wifi card without checking first if it was supported. But I don’t think that 3D graphic drivers are that important. I still hope that Ubuntu will not ship proprietary software by default, and that Ubuntu will try to help the free drivers instead.
Update: I forgot to close the comments when publishing this entry. They are closed now, but trackbacks are open if you want to write your own blog about this (I don’t think it’s necessary, all arguments have been reharsed many times already. Ah, and for the records, the free ati driver works perfectly fine and fast (using MergedFB) in my dual-screen setup (2560*1024), with xv on both monitors.