On 01/23/2017 12:00 AM, Richard
[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]
Would someone here like to make a web page
_addressed to non-wizards_
explaining all the flaws in Chromium?
We could host it on gnu.org or fsf.org, but someone needs to write it.
I wrote the following article/summary in the most non-technical
way I could think of. Perhaps it can be of use:
Chromium's subtle freedom flaws
As free software activists, we all enjoy using the latest and
greatest in free software.
Many users have expressed to us their desire to run Chromium web
browser since it appears to be fully free software.
In our research, we discovered that the situation is improving.
Just a few years ago, there were over one thousand unlicensed
files which were considered to be non-free. Thanks to Debian's
Lintian Reports and efforts, this number has come down to under
100 files as of this writing. Licensing the remaining code with
GPL-compatible licensing is fairly trivial and is expected to be
However, Chromium by default has a number of issues that are still
a concern free software users - even if all the source code is
-What are the issues?-
Queries to Google
By default, Chromium still has many lines of hard-coded internet
queries to Google.
Building it unpatched essentially puts your browser into the
As mentioned in our article "Who does that server really
serve?", free software is only free when you are in control and
should not be dependant on third-party web services. Some work has
already been done to free Chromium from this enslavement,
including the removal of "Google OK" after user outcry.
By default, Chromium still includes some pre-built binaries to aid
in faster compiling. In order to have fully free software, we
require all software to be built from source. Packagers should not
use "use_prebuilt" as a compile option.
DRM and Proprietary Codecs
Chromium supports the use of Widevine DRM, Adobe Pepper Flash, and
third-party codecs which are non-free. Packagers must ensure that
these are removed and disabled in the makefile options prior to
compiling in order to be free software compliant.
While not specific to free software, we would like for users to
have control over their private information. Chromium has a number
of reported privacy concerns which made it ineligible for use with
Tor. Free software users should be aware of these issues and work
to patch them upstream and in their packages as needed.
A work in progress
There is work being done to remove queries to google and pre-built
binaries, as well as strengthen user-privacy.
The patch-set called ungoogled-chromium, which itself is a
combination of inox, iridium, and Debian patches is one such
Free software advocates are advised to use these patchsets and
help contribute to their maintenance. With each consecutive
Chromium release a new patchset must be created to remove Google
specific code and binaries which affect your freedom.
- The Bigger Picture
Chromium is also being used as an embedded framework in various
Users should be aware that QTWebengine is based on Chromium and
therefore contains many of the same flaws. Proprietary codecs and
other anti-features must be disabled at compile time to ensure
user's freedom is respected. Due to QT being a primary
component of KDE and many applications, ensuring it is compiled
correctly and removing non-free software is of even greater
importance to the free software movement.
We are hopeful that the various projects currently working with
Chromium will continue their efforts to liberate the code, making
the internet safer, as well as more freedom respecting, for
This is Free work, you can redistribute it and/or modify it under
the terms of either:
The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
License as published by Creative Commons; either version 4.0, or
(at your option) any later version, or
The GNU Free Documentation License as published by the Free
Software Foundation; either version 1.3, or (at your option) any
later version; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts,
and no Back-Cover Texts