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Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Ubuntu !free

From: Andrew John Hughes
Subject: Re: [Fsuk-manchester] Ubuntu !free
Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 10:41:44 +0100

2008/5/2 Simon Ward <address@hidden>:
> On Fri, May 02, 2008 at 10:00:25AM +0100, aidy lewis wrote:
>  > In last night's lecture Stallman gave some examples of free GNU
>  > distros. Ubuntu was not one of them.
>  Ubuntu is arguably free software, but the devil is in the details.
>  Stallman was talking about distributions encouraging the installation of
>  non-free software by providing the means to: The non-free section in
>  Debian, restricted(?) in Ubuntu.
>  Ututo and gNewSense don't include non-free sections, and not even
>  'cpan', as the licences of CPAN modules are not always free.
>  > Why then does Ubuntu say it is free software:
>  > http://www.ubuntu.com/community/ubuntustory/philosophy
>     "Currently, we make a specific exception for some "drivers"
>     which are only available in binary form, without which many
>     computers will not complete the Ubuntu installation. We place
>     these in a restricted section of your system which makes them
>     easy to remove if you do not need them."
>  I suspect "Ubuntu is happy to call itself open source" is also not
>  giving it any kudos. :)
>  > If it is not free software, should we not raise a bug against Ubuntu?
>  > https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bugs
>  If there isn't one already, I think there should be.
>  Simon
>  --
>  Email: address@hidden | Jabber ID: address@hidden
>  A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved
>  from a simple system that works. -- John Gaule
>  Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (GNU/Linux)
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What RMS was talking about more specifically was the FSF recommending
a Free GNU/Linux distribution.
Ubuntu and Debian rule themselves out straight away by providing the
non-free/multiverse repository. Even though it
is possible to use these distributions without having these extra
repositories turned on (all my Debian installations are
configured this way), the FSF can't recommend a distribution that is
effectively promoting non-free software.

That said, I'm not 100% sure that these distributions sans the
non-free repositories meet the FSF criteria.  Debian
packages have to meet their own set of license requirements which I
believe are close to the Free software requirements,
but differ slightly.  I doubt that the Linux firmware issues are dealt
with fully, for example.

Of course, they do a much better job than some other GNU/Linux
distributions I could mention, and this is probably why
these other distributions refer to themselves wrongly as Linux
distributions as well.
Andrew :-)

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