Friday, February 4, 2011

Ubuntu Philosophical Goals

The most important goals of the Ubuntu project are philosophical in nature. The Ubuntu project lays out its philosophy in a series of documents on its Web site. In the most central of these documents, the team summarizes the charter and the major philosophical goals and underpinnings.

» Our philosophy
Our work is driven by a philosophy of software freedom that aims to spread and bring the benefits of software to all parts of the world. At the core of the Ubuntu Philosophy are these core ideals:

1. Every computer user should have the freedom to download, run, copy, distribute, study, share, change and improve their software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.

2. Every computer user should be able to use their software in the language of their choice.

3. Every computer user should be given every opportunity to use software, even if they work under a disability.

Our philosophy is reflected in the software we produce and included in our distribution. As a result, the licensing terms of the software we distribute are measured against our philosophy, using the Ubuntu License Policy.

When you install Ubuntu, almost all of the software installed already meets these ideals, and we are working to ensure that every single piece of software you need is available under a license that gives you those freedoms.

Currently, we make a specific exception for some “drivers” that are available only in binary form, without which many computers will not complete the Ubuntu installation. We place these in a restricted section of your system, which makes them easy to remove if you do not need them.

» Free software
For Ubuntu, the “free” in free software is used primarily in reference to freedom and not to price—although we are committed to not charging for Ubuntu. The most important thing about Ubuntu is that it confers rights of software freedom on the people who install and use it. These freedoms enable the Ubuntu community to grow and to continue to share its collective experience and expertise to improve Ubuntu and make it suitable for use in new countries and new industries. Quoting the Free Software Foundation’s “What Is Free Software,” the freedoms at the core of free software are defined as

• The freedom to run the program for any purpose

• The freedom to study how the program works and adapt it to your Needs

• The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others

• The freedom to improve the program and release your improvements to the public so that everyone benefits

» Open source
Open source is a term coined in 1998 to remove the ambiguity in the English word free. The Open Source Initiative described open source software in the Open Source Definition. Open source continues to enjoy growing success and wide recognition.

Ubuntu is happy to call itself open source. While some refer to free and open source as competing movements with different ends, we do not see free and open source software as either distinct or incompatible. Ubuntu proudly includes members who identify with both movements.

Here, the Ubuntu project makes explicit its goals that every user of software should have the freedoms required by free software. This is important for a number of reasons. First, it offers users all of the practical benefits of software that runs better, faster, and more flexibly. More important, it gives every user the capability to transcend his or her role as a user and a consumer of software. Ubuntu wants software to be empowering and to work in the ways that users want it to work. Ubuntu wants all users to have the ability to make sure it works for them. To do this, software must be free, so Ubuntu makes this a requirement and a philosophical promise.

Of course, the core goals of Ubuntu do not end with the free software definition. Instead, the project articulates two new but equally important goals. The first of these, that all computer users should be able to use their computers in their chosen languages, is a nod to the fact that the majority of the world’s population does not speak English, while the vast majority of software interacts only in that language. To be useful, source code comments, programming languages, documentation, and the texts and menus in computer programs must be written in some language. Arguably, the world’s most international language is a reasonably good choice. However, there is no language that everyone speaks, and English is not useful to the majority of the world’s population that does not speak it. A computer can be a great tool for empowerment and education, but only if the user can understand the words in the computer’s interface. As a result, Ubuntu believes that it is the project’s—and community’s—responsibility to ensure that every user can easily use Ubuntu to read and write in the language with which he or she is most comfortable.

The ability to make modifications—a requirement of free software and of Ubuntu’s first philosophical point—makes this type of translation possible. While it helps explain Ubuntu only to the relatively small subset of the world that already speaks English. More important, it is distributed under a Creative Commons license that allows for translation, modification, and redistribution.

Finally, just as no person should be blocked from using a computer simply because he or she does not know a particular language, no user should be blocked from using a computer because of a disability. Ubuntu must be accessible to users with motor disabilities, vision disabilities, and hearing disabilities. It should provide input and output in a variety of forms to account for each of these situations and for others. A significant percentage of the world’s most intelligent and creative individuals also have disabilities. Ubuntu’s usefulness should not be limited when it can be inclusive. More important, Ubuntu wants to welcome and to be able to harness the ability of these individuals as community members to build a better and more effective community.

Source of Information : Prentice Hall The official Ubuntu Book 5th Edition 2010
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