On 30 May 2006 TurboLinux announced the release of version 11, also called Fuji. While TurboLinux remains very popular in Asia, particularly Japan, this announcement generated little attention or enthusiasm in the United States or Europe. The fact that TurboLinux Fuji 11 Desktop is doing something revolutionary almost went unnoticed.
What has TurboLinux done? They’ve partnered with Cyberlink to offer a fully legal, licensed, DMCA compliant DVD player for Linux. OK, I can hear the open source
zealots advocates groaning and gnashing their teeth from here. Yes, we’re talking closed source and proprietary. This is still revolutionary and still very important.
First, like it or not, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the law of the land in the United States. There are a handful of other countries with similar laws. You can consider it unjust and stupid all you like but so far it has been thoroughly resistant to court challenges. You can break the law all you like and call it “civil disobedience” but you still leave yourself open to legal action if caught. I sure as heck am not going to walk into a client’s office proudly displaying illegal software on my desktop. Thanks, but no thanks.
The lack of legal multimedia software comparable to what is available for Windows users has been a major stumbling block to getting preloaded Linux systems on store shelves and taken seriously by consumers. Say all you will about the virtues of Open Source but the average Joe or Jane user isn’t interested and really doesn’t want to take the time to be educated. They want their computer to just work. Save them money, speed up their systems, make them more reliable, make them more secure… it’s all great but if the system doesn’t do what they want they won’t buy it. The average Joe or Jane user also can’t load their own OS: not Linux, not Windows, not anything.
Sure, I’m all for lobbying Congress and making DMCA go away. In the meanwhile TurboLinux is doing the Linux community and those of us who advocate the OS a great service. Oh, and once the product is proven on TurboLinux don’t be surprised if it shows up on Linspire or Mepis or Xandros or even Red Hat. Yes, those are less than “pure” commercial versions of Linux. From where I’m sitting that would be a very good thing. In the meanwhile I’m going to have to plunk down $39 for a copy of TurboLinux Fuji 11 as soon as the PowerDVD plugin becomes available.