A posting on Slashdot today speaks of an interview with Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth which occurred last week. In it, he states that Dell computers preloaded with Ubuntu will not include WINE, an open-source Windows emulator for the Linux platform. Mr. Shuttleworth stated that he does not want Ubuntu to be viewed as a cheap version of Windows, and does not want to explicitly encourage the use of Windows applications on the operating system. He feels that if wine were preloaded onto Dell Ubuntu PCs, users would not be encouraged to try the many open-source alternatives to Windows programs available.

The poster on Slashdot raises the question if WINE will even be included in the Ubuntu package manager. Mr. Shuttleworth's statements against the idea of WINE's use makes its future availablity in Ubuntu come into question. However, such concern is baseless, since WINE will always be available. Even if the unlikely scenario of WINE's removal from the Ubuntu package repository comes to fruition (it won't), WINE will still be installable from other package sources or the CVS repository.

In fact, this is an important aspect of the Linux OS: an application's exclusion from pre-installation does not prevent or even hamper its availability. The program will always be available through other means, whether by package manager or (in a worst-case) by compiling from source (which is not as difficult or intimidating as it may seem). If an application is not pre-installed, users won't have to pay extra money to obtain a license or expend much extra effort to get the application's functionality.

Because software is so readily available for installation, Mr. Shuttleworth is in a great position to make philosophical statements regarding Ubuntu and open source. He can make clear how he wants Ubuntu to be viewed by the public while simultaneously ensuring that users who need access to software such as WINE can still have it. True, it may take an extra step or two to obtain the software if it is not pre-installed, but Ubuntu's package manager does (almost) all of the work.

wine doesnt come by default with ubuntu anyway so you arent really missiong out on much

The furthest away wine can be is "sudo apt-get install wine". I just think that Mark Shuttleworth doesn't want people to buy a Dell/Ubuntu machine expecting all their Windows apps to work flawlessly; hopefully this will make people seek out a open alternative - usually there are a few options.

As others have posted, this is a non-issue. It's like all distros that I'm aware of, do not include the ability to play MP3s (royalty issues) and the great thing about that is I get to decide which player I want to use and it is very easy to install the codecs (and my choice, of course, is mpg123, a command line player since I always start at run level 3 and only use X when I absolutely need to).