Installer should give users a option to install support for restricted formats

Bug #5237 reported by Petr Tomeš on 2005-11-30
This bug affects 2 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
debian-installer (Ubuntu)
ubuntu-express (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Installer should give users an option to install support of restricted formats (at least some of them) to remain competitive with other popular linux distributions (such as Open Suse - it contains the similar option during installation process, Mandriva, etc) and other operating systems.

Need for reading documentation, googling or going to forums is bad experience for users, even sometimes it is not carry out and users switch to another distribution or operating system. :(

I'm not aware that Mandriva nor OpenSUSE has any "easier" support for restricted modules than Ubuntu (although I am aware that Mandriva's xine did not have various ffmpeg reverse engineered formats removed). While Mandriva has plf this is certainly not talked about during or after the install and the version of OpenSUSE I have did not suggest how to install restricted formats after I put it on. Perhaps you can list where in the install the other distros give instructions on how to get restricted formats? Are you talking about all restricted formats or just one in particular?

Restricted formats are a pain but I see no way past them unless the distros are willing to pay for them. I know I wouldn't want to pay royalties for a format when I am giving software that uses said format away for free. The question is how close can you get before you a open to being sued and are you willing to take the risk...

Andre LeBlanc (andrepleblanc) wrote :

I think this is also a VERY important issue to address. Think about it this way, I just installed Ubuntu and I want to see what its capable of, but first, I need a little music to make the job go by a little easier. so I fire up the media player and it won't play any of my music... this is ridiculous.
Minus 10 points for ubuntu, this alone might be enough to turn some people away from linux. If someone stick it out to try and figure it out, they should easily find the proper page on the ubuntu wiki, filled with exact step by step instruction on how to enable the restricted formats, and they're left thinking "why didn't they just tell me that in the first place?"
The ubuntu installer imho is the perfect place for this, during install it should display a legal disclaimer and then give the user the option to enable the repositories and install FUNCTIONAL media players instead of the completely useless (to most of us) apps that are included.

Petr Tomeš (ptomes) wrote :

Why all users from no sw patents countries should be annoyed becaouse support of MP3 and other formats aren't easily available? Any good reason why don't provide a option to install support for restriced formats during installation process? This can be even automatical or semi-automatical depending on locales/country settings - for countries without legal issues with restricted formats could be installed support for them automatically or users should get a dialog with option to download and install support for them.

Alan Tam (at) wrote :

I tend agree to restricted formats which only have software patent problem.

However, not all restricted formats are under this category, e.g.:
* mp3 has algorithm patents in many european countries [1]
* some restricted formats needs non-free software to play (using e.g. w32codec)

As a community to promote free software, we should not actively recommend our users to install non-free software, regardless the legality. Imagine there is a prompt to ask whether you want to install "...", most people will answer yes no matter what it is.


Corey Burger (corey.burger) wrote :

Sorry, I disagree with this overloading the installer with extra questions. We must ask the user as few questions as possible and only essential ones in the installer. This is not essential, despite what some believe.

Petr Tomeš (ptomes) wrote :

So please consider stopping the inconvenience of all users, which want to play formats, which is patented only on fraction of the world and isn't patented in their countries and make possible to automatically download support for these formats according their locale/country setting or at least show dialog about this options after installation. Thank you.

Alan Tam (at) wrote :

Ubuntu is there to promote software freedom. Please consider stopping to convince users to give away their freedom just to play some files.

We want Ubuntu to become popular because it does the right thing, not because it brings convenience by doing evil things. Imagine over the past 10 years how much software have switched to free licenses because Debian had considered them non-free.

If we do not create the economics that freedom will make your software popular, we will never have an OS that is both convenient and free.

I understand Corey's concern on the extra question that would overload the installer, but the potential gain maybe large, like bringing in libdvdcss for everywhere except a few evil countries. However, formats like mp3 are difficult to support for most part of the world.

Colin Watson (cjwatson) wrote :

ubuntu-express is obsolete (renamed to espresso) and won't do this anyway; by design it only copies whatever is on the live filesystem. In any case, there is absolutely zero point in you creating a new bug task for it, since it's maintained by the same person.

Changed in ubuntu-express:
status: Unconfirmed → Rejected
Chris Wagner (chris-wagner) wrote :

There are specifications in-the-works that concern restricted formats. See and The EasyCodecInstallation specification is concerned with an on-demand installation method. The RestrictedFormatsAssitant suggests having something similar to what has been requested here.

It doesn't seem likely that the RestrictedFormatsAssitant would pass through legislation. As you see here, most people are against extra questions; they wish to have as few as possible. This makes sense.

The EasyCodecInstallation spec seems to be the way to go, since you won't be bugging the user more than you would be by telling him "this format is not supported". Users that have no care to use these restricted formats will never be bothered.

If you'd like to see the problem of "restricted formats" alleviated (I know I would), you should probably move your ideas towards these specifications.

DarkMageZ (darkmagez) wrote :

i disagree with the concept of making it region specific
1) laws could change
2) it hinders peoples right to do what alot of windows users do. break the laws anyway

if you truely wish to follow the path of being region specific then inorder to avoid giving accidental bad advice in which people might not beable to research during installation, then maybe this could be brought to the users attention when they first logon to ubuntu, then they will have a webbrowser, also this could include a link to a wiki page which has current advice for every region?

Chris Wagner (chris-wagner) wrote :

With the easy-codec-installation spec complete (, this bug report probably has little value. Does anyone object to closing it?

As said in the last comment, this is issue is fixed on feisty with the easy-codec-installation spec, and it's not provided through the ubuntu or debian installer but directly in the desktop

Changed in debian-installer:
status: Unconfirmed → Rejected
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