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[task #15731] Submission of Davis Remmel

From: Davis Remmel
Subject: [task #15731] Submission of Davis Remmel
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2020 13:56:30 -0400 (EDT)
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; FreeBSD amd64; rv:74.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/74.0

Follow-up Comment #3, task #15731 (project administration):

Hello Ineiev, thank you for your response. I saw something in your last
message about "replied off-item" so I'm not sure why Savannah wouldn't track
the mailing list, but nonetheless I'll now reply directly from the Savannah

> The problem is: there is no free software that could realistically replace
the nonfree parts on that device.
> Using that tablet implies using proprietary software

I would like to dispel that myth. I have ported Debian to the tablet with a
window manager and access to free programs through apt[1], and there are free
reading applications like KOReader[2] and Plato[3]. Furthermore, there are
free drawing programs, like rmHarmony[4].


[1] is the very first RCU-compatible package ever created (RCU facilitates
installing free software to the device). [2], [3], and [4] currently must be
installed somewhat manually, but a feature of RCU makes it accessible to
ordinary computer users.

So, it is entirely possible to use the reMarkable tablet with all-free
user-facing software, with programs providing an adequate level of parity with
the proprietary notebooking software (Xochitl).

> When hosting Android programs, we require that people make sure those
programs work on Replicant, a free version of Android.

I'm sorry if we don't understand each other, but it's not like that situation.
The OS of the reMarkable tablet is free. The manufacturer publishes the
complete sources through GitHub--a smattering of licenses for sure, but all
free. Therefore, the OS is already free, and it's not like Android where the
OS necessarily depends upon nonfree parts. Today, a user may compile this free
OS themselves and install the user-facing free programs mentioned above.

Link [5] contains the necessary (pre-compiled) bits for loading a 100% free
OS. These are from the manufacturer: an initramfs, uboot image, and the
imx_usb utility to load it into the device's RAM over USB boot.


Even furthermore, RCU does not run on the reMarkable device--it runs on a free
operating system on a PC and communicates to the device over the network, so I
don't think your analogy is very compatible in the way you stated.

RCU will work 100% with this all-free operating system, explicitly minus the
proprietary blobs and Xochitl.

Looking at it another way, RCU provides a package manager that allows the user
to install free software. And so, for an ordinary (techno-illiterate) user to
even get free programs onto the device, it would require a program like RCU to
carry out that operation. So, there are _currently_ few free options available
for the tablet, and they are fragmented. RCU is a catalyst for free software
usage because most users do not have the technical skill to manage their
device's software, and RCU is the first good manager to exist to make that
process simple.

Yet another way it could be seen is that out of the 6 core functions RCU
provides (please see the draft manual linked in the application), 4 do not
even imply having nonfree software: taking partition-level backups, taking
screenshots, managing documents, and installing software packages all work
100% with the free software available today. The latter makes it possible to
install free software in the first place. So, out of the core functions, 100%
work with free software, but 33% don't yet align with user-facing free
replacements (managing notebook templates and sleep wallpapers) but those
functions do still work when the tablet is running a 100% free OS.

> It is ok for the program to run on nonfree platforms or nonfree operating
systems, and to work with well-known nonfree applications, in addition to
working with free software, provided it gives the free software at least as
good support as it gives to nonfree counterparts.

I think it does, and if you have a suggestion about how to make my program
better, I will gladly listen. I think there is enough evidence here to show
that your assumptions were mistaken.



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