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Re: [directory-discuss] FSF opinion on chromium, QtWebEngine, electron

From: bill-auger
Subject: Re: [directory-discuss] FSF opinion on chromium, QtWebEngine, electron
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2017 13:08:04 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/52.5.0

an interesting note to add - i spoke about this with a fedora dev today
- he was not aware of this chromium controversy but he told me that
fedora blacklists electron and all dependents for a similar licensing
issue that electron devs created themselves quite aside from this issue
- it appears that even if this chromium issue is resolved that electron
may be hopeless situation - here are some of the observations he made:


BTW, since you mentioned Electron, that's an even bigger can of worms.
This is not only not compliant to FSF policies, but also to any free
distro's policies.
The issue is that they rely a lot on bundling precompiled blobs without
even including their source code.
Electron bundles a precompiled Chromium blob, mentioning only the BSD
license of Chromium's own code, but ignoring the LGPL on Blink and some
other components (they neither mention nor honor it).
Then Electron apps bundle a precompiled Electron blob including the
Chromium blob.
So the Electron apps are not only not compliant to policies, but
outright illegal.
Just look at the "source" repositories for Electron, Atom, etc. And
their "source" tarballs. Everything relies on redistributing blobs.
You have to actually force it to rebuild the blob from source or use a
system copy before you can even consider packaging this.
Their build instructions also mention downloading blobs.
Electron is not in Fedora at all because of these issues.

– they still recommend bundling Electron as a blob with applications.
– libchromiumcontent is also still prebuilt by default.
It can be built from source, but I haven't seen packagers do that so
far, at least for Fedora.
If you build libchromiumcontent from source, then Electron from source
based on that, then the apps from source based on that, THEN you can
distribute this in a distro, assuming the Chromium licensing issue is
If you just follow the default build process, no.
It shall also be noted that the instructions assume that you have
Internet access in the build system, which is not normally the case in
distros. Things have to be patched to build from tarballs. Even those
packagers repackaging blobs are patching things to not download the
blobs from the net, but use shipped ones.
This is the magic script that fetches blobs etc.

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