We all love it, the idea of open source and free software.

And if you look at Ubuntu’s own words they state about the OS that it is ‘free and will always remain free’.
A couple of years ago however Ubuntu also sold support for DVD, mp3 and the likes through Fluendo packages.
I wasn’t too bothered by this as it was neatly hidden away from direct view and well to be honest there were other ways around it to get this support through open source means.

Then, with the release of Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid), we seen a new feature within Rhythmbox which I have reported earlier this year before the release.
This new feature was an iTunes style music store.
Using this, people were able to use their Ubuntu One account to purchase legal music much like people can do with iTunes.

Once again, this is no big deal if you don’t wish to use it, then you simply don’t.

However, the next move right now is coming for Ubuntu 10.10 (Meerkat).

This one does worry me a bit.
The Ubuntu Software Center will feature software which you are able to purchase.
Sounds like the same thing as all the other’s right?

Well that’s where I believe you are wrong.
I don’t mind putting my hand in my pocket for quality software, or high quality games. But the problem is the fact it is starting to surround us.
GNU/Linux is all about sharing, it is about open source and learning.

I worry that with the idea that paying for software on Linux is going to be in such plain view that it won’t be long before the list of commercial closed source software in the Ubuntu Software Center outnumbers the open source ones.

That is why I have a radical idea, and it isn’t my idea.
Why should we pay for this software on a GNU listed OS, let us pay for help on improving software, not for purchasing software so that eventually we become another Microsoft or Apple.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can vow that if we truly are headed down the road of closed source and paying options integrated into all parts of Ubuntu, that I will make a switch too, to another distro, one that upholds the Linux principles.

UPDATE: As many of you may know now, and others might not. The design of the ‘paid for’ apps have arrived in Meerkat. I am however, glad to announce that the designers have decided to separate the free from the paid by adding a specific paid entry in the menu. That’s a good compromise in my opinion