Software Boutique Free Software/Proprietary Distinction in Introduction?

I was wondering if perhaps there is a way that we can add a paragraph to the Software Boutique introduction that emphasizes free/open source software along with making the hide proprietary software checkbox more visible. I know that MATE isn’t extremely ideological with free software, but perhaps adding something like this:

"There is an abundance of software available for Ubuntu MATE and some people find that choice overwhelming. This is carefully curated selection of best-in-class applications have been chosen because they integrate well, complement Ubuntu MATE and enable you to self style your computing experience.

Ubuntu MATE Software Boutique provides the ability to download both proprietary and free software. We believe that allowing users the opportunity to download both eases them into Linux, but we hope that in the future, they will find that the free/open source alternatives to proprietary software meets their needs. If you would like to hide the proprietary software, please click here:

[Check box to hide Proprietary software]"


Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll wait and see what @Wimpy thinks to adding a paragraph to the introduction.

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I am also hoping for an extra paragraph and some visual elements to better distinguish them (perhaps a warning when using proprietary software directly next to the introduction of each entry and a clarification in the Software Boutique regarding the difference of open source and free software), that is, more than just a check-box. We could also have a more substantial discussion about these issues with a new tag ethics in our forum. I know UM is a very young project and for some of these non-technical matters there is less time than for development-related technical issues. How about a poll regarding free software vs proprietary software as a start to get a sense of what our community thinks?

Maybe some of us could chat on IRC at some point about these issues and think about a way to make a cohesive statement on this? I would love to help contribute in this way.

Whatever the choice will be, I just ask it doesn’t make an arguable statement like the one suggested in the initial post.

What I mean is that “they will find that the free/open source alternatives to proprietary software meets their needs” is potentially not true to a substantial number of users and may be constructed as misinformation or misguided advice.

I do agree that a paragraph on the merits of open source software is warranted, and it also wouldn’t hurt for the software boutique to start with the hide proprietary checkbox checked on first run. But otherwise, I wouldn’t personally appreciate statements of fact or any pretense of ideology on this matter by the Ubuntu-MATE official wording.

The current Software Boutique is equipped with a small box that you can tick if you want to hide proprietary software and it is not enabled by default. It has been suggested by @marfig to reverse this, that is, to have it enabled by default:

I generally support this, but the point I want to make is a slightly different one and one that is clearly in favour of free software. Ubuntu MATE, I believe, is not agnostic when it comes to proprietary software and free software. This is already indicated by the fact that you can hide proprietary software but you cannot hide free software. Proprietary software is included for pragmatic reasons alone: some of these programs are convenient to use (at the expense of your own freedom, that is, you do not get to check what the program does to your computer and this poses a higher security risk), and sometimes they are difficult to install and the Software Boutique solves some of these potential installation problems.

But when given a choice of equally capable programs, most people in this community will most likely choose open source software for pragmatic reasons (convenience, security, etc.) and/or ethical reasons (and perhaps call it free software to emphasize free software's commitment to freedom). This, I think, must be reflected in the way of how proprietary software is presented not only in the Software Boutique but also as part of Ubuntu MATE as a whole. It is more reasonable to have a box that reads: Show Proprietary Software (not Hide Proprietary Software).

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[quote=“maro, post:6, topic:7445, full:true”]
It is more reasonable to have a box that reads: Show Proprietary Software (not Hide Proprietary Software).[/quote]

That’s a strong one-liner you got right there. Banners are made of stuff like this :ok_hand:
(Although banners are so 00s. The thing today is memes… I miss banners.)

I agree entirely with you. The only thing that was concerning me above was making sure that Ubuntu-MATE doesn’t go down the zealotry road on this matter. The level of irrational intolerance of a representative margin of the FOSS community is one of the reasons I stay away from many Linux based communities.

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I disagree.

Philosophy aside, let’s be realistic for a moment. If Ubuntu MATE wants to gain any form of mass acceptance, I think we need to realize that most users won’t care about this distinction.

Although a great number of us here on the forums are technologically proficient MATE enthusiasts, I would wager that the vast majority of Ubuntu MATE users are very similar to most desktop PC users. They are regular, not technologically-inclined, people.

While hiding proprietary software by default may lead to some sort of philosophical victory for people like us who love and promote open source software, it will only serve as a barrier to the less skilled Ubuntu MATE user.

Often people don’t realize how simply hiding some options behind a menu or checkbox can quickly create a bad user experience. Even when placed right in front of a user, a checkbox will often be overlooked.

As much as it pains me to say this, most people don’t care about where the software comes from; they just want to click one button so they can install Skype.

The current Software Boutique works so well because it makes software installation not just easy, but it allows the user to be lazy. Placing any obstacles between the user and that one-click-install is just making the user-experience worse for a large majority of UM users so we (the vocal minority) can make an ethical statement.

The Software Boutique is one of the first things a new user will see when they install Ubuntu MATE. This interaction should remain simple and unobstructed.


Very good points rev!

It’s easy to forget the matter of usability (true usability, not that other thing they call usability when they change an entire desktop to look like a tablet OS) when we get waistline deep in thought for those things we consider our ideals.

Some other issues are as important, if not more important. Although I’m not particularly sensitive to claims that Linux needs more users (I don’t see why it does, or even that it matters at all), I do agree that making it harder to use for a newcomer for the sake of a misguided sense of pride is nuts.

Besides I have been fortunate enough to have known both the closed source and open source worlds from inside out as both a consumer and developer in both industries for nearly 30 years. So I can detect false claims even in my sleep. And the idea that open source software is better than proprietary software is as flawed as is its opposite.

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Thank you for the comments. I generally agree with you also. I actually think most FOSS activists(and this may just be because I am an academic in real life) have very limited knowledge of the last 50 years of philosophy and academic thought. I do not think most of their arguments are well thought out as a whole. Nonetheless, I do believe that as computers and technology is more ingrained in people’s lives that it is important to take seriously the nature of the computation systems that surrounds us.

I attempted to write my statement in a way that only marginally implied a preference for free software. My original reason for doing so was because decisions like these go into many design and direction decision of Linux distributions. Ubuntu and Debian are not agnostic about open source and free software and because Ubuntu MATE is an official spin of Ubuntu, its design decisions should reflect those surrounding Ubuntu and Debian. Both Debian and Ubuntu of these have code’s of conducts, statements about open source, etc. and Ubuntu MATE should reflect those principles. MATE does this a little with its discussion about open source in the documentation documentation, but, again, it isn’t reflected throughout the decision making process.

I agree, and this is why in my original formulation of what I believed the software center should say, I did not suggest that we hide the proprietary software, merely that we suggest to users that we wish they would eventually move towards free software. Martin Wimpress, for example, states that he is an “open source advocate” and I believe there is a reasonable argument to be made that he hopes people will move towards open source/free software:

I think the argument that open source is better than closed software is mainly made by people that believe the term “open source” will help sell Linux to businessess. Honestly, it is just a technoutopian myth. Nonetheless, there are other reasons for free software. While I do not agree with everything in the video, here is an overview of the many times that free software is not better:

A shorter version is here:

Overall though, I think the sentence I stated did not seem overly zealous and matches the broader design/philosophical stances of both Debian and Ubuntu.

I also believe that adding a tag for proprietary and open source/free software to each of the items in the list is important, if nothing else, for the purposes of allowing users to have a visual que of what exactly will be hidden if they check the hide proprietary software checkbox.