… "ideological reasons" are there where Fedora Core doesn’t want to support NTFS — but this is not multimedia. When a distro supported by a business (not by a single guy, like for MEPIS) does not include support for MP3 files, or for AVI files, or for libdvdcss, this is not for "obscure ideological reasons" — it’s because of the law, dammit!
Warren Woodford may not give a damned… whatever about the fact that you should pay for distributing any support for playing MP3 (and he pays not). And Microsoft formats are proprietary — Linspire payed for that! And DVD decoding is illegal in many countries!
So, if a one-man-distro doesn’t care for that, fine. But this is not a sustainable business model. All the business-backed free distros can not follow the same path! §
I like the way Beranger puts this. Some time ago I too used to wonder on how come some small distros (like MEPIS for instance) have full multimedia support , whereas larger distros (like OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc which have with commercial backing) have zero mp3 and DVD etc support. From the documentation and websites of these distros, I’d get the impression that it was not included coz of "ideological reasons" — and that was like a big grudge I had against them. Why are they soo damn ideological anyways? Smaller distros based on these larger distros have all the stuff built into them, so why don’t these larger distros throw away their ideologies?! And not just that, everyone keeps saying Linux is a Windows replacement and is meant to replace your desktop OS, so then why don’t they include mp3 and DVD support (instead of their ideologies) coz that’s like bare minimum requirements nowadays!
Ofcourse, that was before I started reading more about all this and actually spending some time with these distros. Then I realized that the point was not about ideologies. Sure, it was "presented" as if it were an ideology issue, but the actually core of the matter is about these being illegal to provide. Support for MP3 or DVD etc is simply illegal to support for these distros — unless they shell out money and licensing fees etc for these formats — and that is impractical (it goes against the whole idea of "open source", and hey, how long and from where do you expect these community driven distros to go about paying licensing fees anyways?!) And I realized that even though the distros do not include support for all these, its quite easy to get the required stuff yourself — doing a search on the Net will get you plenty of articles that show you how to do it. And infact, nowadays we even have simple one-click-solutions for installing all this (eg. EasyUbuntu). So things are not as bleaky as they sound; and its definitely not coz "ideological reasons" or whatever.
Beranger puts it all well above. :)