Ubuntu, Dell PC Multimedia Codec Issue

dell linux notebookIt’s been a bit annoying reading all the blogs and news outlets quoting Direct2Dell’s statement that Dell Ubuntu-based PCs will not have built-in support for playback of MPEG-1/2/3/4, WMA, WMV, DVD, Quicktime, etc. and spinning it as if it were a crippling attribute and a non-starter for newbies. Guys… all those codecs are proprietary! As such, any free/libre operating system would never include them because they require licensing.

FYI, last time I checked Windows OS natively never supported DVD, MPEG-4, Quicktime, or Flash playback either without licensing and installing third-party software.

However, Ubuntu, in its latest Feisty 7.04 release (which will be loaded on Dell’s upcoming Linux PCs), allows users to install appropriate codecs on-the-fly – in most cases – with a simple pop-up (via the “codec wizard”) when clicking on a file (see press release, screenshot via Ubuntu Geek). Yes, the codecs are coming from the community repositories which are not officially supported or licensed by Ubuntu. But if that worries you, there is a LEGAL way to get a hold of the codecs like any other OEM and that’s through a third-party provider like Fluendo (more info) and CNR.com (more info).

There’s also been talk that Ubuntu will start offering the Fluendo/CNR codecs through the Canonical Commercial Repository in the near future, so keep an eye out for that as well. It would mean that users would have the option to purchase a variety of proprietary codecs through the add/remove application codec wizard. Maybe this is what Dell is counting on?

Note to Dell:
Pay up and include the Fluendo suite for multimedia playback on Dell Linux-based PCs or at least give the option to users to add them to their system during checkout.

Ubuntu Resource:
Ubuntu 7.04 Documentation – Play movies and Videos
Ubuntu 7.04 Documentation – RestrictedFormats

Also See:
Automatix and EasyUbuntu

Filed in: Industry Buzz