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Re: Gentoo GNU/Linux and non-free packages

From: Tassilo Horn
Subject: Re: Gentoo GNU/Linux and non-free packages
Date: Thu, 07 Jan 2010 09:35:25 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1.91 (gnu/linux)

Richard Stallman <address@hidden> writes:

> Under the plans you described, it will be easier to omit the non-free
> packages from Gentoo.  But Gentoo will still lead users towards
> non-free packages, which is a bad thing to do.

Well, when searching with the package manager, it still lists non-free
packages, but they are masked due to their license, and you cannot
install them, and for sure, the package manager won't install them as a
dependency of some other package.

The package manager also tells you where the license is located on your
disk, so you can read it, decide on your own, and add exceptions for
individual packages.  For example, I allow "GPL-2 with classpath
exception" for the OpenJDK IcedTea java distribution, and the TeX and
LPPL licenses for the TeXLive distribution, although at least the latter
two are not GPL compatible (but still free).

I also accept the non-free skype license for skype, because I'm forced
to use it at work...

> See gnu.org/distros for more explanation about this.

| Gentoo
| ======
| Gentoo makes it easy to install a number of nonfree programs through
| their primary package system.

Well, that hardly qualifies as an still standing argument.  As soon as
the new package manager version is stable, it's only a matter of what
defaults the Gentoo devs choose as acceptable licenses.  I guess, they
will choose only FSF and OSI approved licenses.  Then, you will have a
free system guaranteed.

Of course, still a user can add an exception for an individual package
he simply is forced to use, because there are no free alternatives, like
some driver for a hardware device [1].  With gNewSense, he would install
that manually and circumvent the package manager.  With Gentoo, he adds
an exception and then the package manager does the install.  That has
the big advantage, that he can be absolutely sure that he can remove
that piece of software without leaving anything over that might be
harmful to his system, as soon as a free alternative becomes available.

[1] Yes, sure, you should avoid any hardware that doesn't run with only
    free drivers, but that can be impossible, because i.e. your company
    buys your computer and you have to influence on that.  In that case,
    a nearly free system is the best you can get, and much better than
    using a completely proprietary OS.

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