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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Endorsed distro review for LibreCMC

From: Patrick 'P. J.' McDermott
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Endorsed distro review for LibreCMC
Date: Fri, 16 May 2014 22:53:53 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20111114 Icedove/3.1.16

It's great to see libreCMC seeking endorsement!

On 2014-05-16 13:51, Joshua Gay wrote:
> Hello,
> I would greatly appreciate your help in helping me review LibreCMC to
> see if it can become an endorsed distro.
> I suspect that this should be a pretty easy small distro to check.
> Distro name: LibreCMC
> Source repo: <>
> Website: <> (the site appears to be down
> temporarily).

It's <>.

> Maintainer: Bob Call

I don't see him on this list.  Should we be sending copies of messages
in this thread to him?

> I am not sure how releases are going to be managed and how corresponding
> sources for each distro are going to be maintained. I received a release
> of corresponding source on a disk from the maintainer.

I've taken a quick look at the source repository.

First I wonder if the Linux package contains non-free firmware.  Is
Linux-libre used or is the mainline Linux deblobbed?  This isn't obvious
to me.  I see <package/kernel/linux/Makefile> – is this for the Linux
package?  It says it's a "Virtual kernel package".  Other than that,
there's a Kconfig option to clone Linux from a Git repository (line 56
of <config/>).

<tools/b43-tools/> contains instructions to download and build
b43-tools [1], which is only useful to work with non-free firmware [2].

<docs/adding.tex> mentions in multiple places extracting non-free
drivers from device firmware for use in libreCMC (OpenWrt):

  * Lines 186 and 196 in the "Using the SDK" subsection (line 188 is
    arguably OK, because the subsection suggests reverse engineering
    non-free tools and replacing them with free ones on line 198),
  * Lines 248 through 252 in the "Creating a hardware specific kernel
    patch", and
  * Lines 290 through 326 – the "Making binary drivers work" subsection.

<docs/wireless.tex> refers to some non-free drivers and drivers that may
require non-free firmware.

  * In multiple places it refers to Broadcom drivers and "wlc", which is
    apparently a free software (licensed under GPL 2.0 or later) utility
    to configure a non-free Broadcom driver [3].
  * On line 397 it refers to rt2x00 drivers [4].  These drivers appear
    to be free software, but some may need non-free firmware.  It sounds
    like there are Ralink wireless chipsets that might work without
    non-free firmware, so referring to these drivers is probably fine.
  * On line 398 it refers to TI ACX100/ACX111 drivers [5].  The drivers
    look free, but they require firmware [6] which appears to be
    non-free firmware from TI.

I suppose it could be argued that these mentions of non-free drivers in
the documentation could count as "helping people install a free system
distribution on a machine which already has proprietary software".  But
I'd assume that consensus on this list would be that such references
aren't acceptable.

These aren't GFSD issues, but there are places in the documentation that
seem irrelevant for libreCMC:

  * <doc/bugs.tex> refers to a Subversion repository and describes
    OpenWrt's Trac-based bug tracking workflow.
  * <docs/build.tex> also refers to a Subversion repository and a Trac
  * <docs/submitting-patches.tex> refers to mailing lists, a wiki, a
    forum, a Trac installation, and IRC channels that don't exist.


Patrick "P. J." McDermott
Lead Developer, ProteanOS

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