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bug#35915: Please provide an installer with non-free drivers

From: Danny Milosavljevic
Subject: bug#35915: Please provide an installer with non-free drivers
Date: Sun, 26 May 2019 22:01:04 +0200


On Sun, 26 May 2019 12:37:18 +0200
juh <address@hidden> wrote:

>If Guix were just another distro focusing on free software,
> there would be no need for a nonfree installer iso. But in case of Guix
> I think it is missing [and necessary].

Yeah, that's a common argument in the Open Source source camp.
But building something worth using doesn't mean we have to compromise our
values--quite the opposite.

> Please consider that using hardware that is supported by free drivers is
> a privilege. Many people cannot afford a computer with supported
> hardware, others are not able to look for the right components, and
> compare long lists of supported hardware with the specs from computer
> shops, and last but not least many people just got a computer from
> others – as a gift maybe. 

I started my career the latter way myself, so I understand what you mean.

But there are other distributions--and you are free to use a non-gnu Linux
distribution with your non-free hardware.  You are also free to configure
our distribution so that it works with your non-free hardware--but we will
not help you with that part (because it would be like the pope giving
advice on how to evade commandments--that's just not a good idea).

I would hate the idea of hardware going into a landfill because of this.

BUT closed firmware, especially closed communications (Wifi, LAN) and
closed display and input drivers are a *security problem*, especially
when using a monolithic kernel.

With USB existing and USB devices being pretty cheap, there is no need
to support weird peripherals when you can just stick a Free USB Wifi
stick, hard drive or even graphics card in your non-free computer instead
(If possible, we should at least detect unsupported hardware and warn about
it in Guix--that would be nice)

Also, the situation on x86 is good--there are hardware devices in every
category that work just fine with Free software.

I think tech is the hegemony tool of the millenium.  See what the
USA is doing to Huawei now.  Want to be in that situation in the NEAR
future where you can't get security updates on hardware you own because
some weird foreign government says the vendors are forbidden by law to
do it?  That doesn't seem to be a good dependency to enter into as a
user.  We thought vendor lock-in was bad but that's nothing against
these state-level threats.  (in this case, it works because the Android
updates are handled by Google even for Huawei, and Google is bound
by USA law; there are a lot of other worse things closed hardware
and/or software vendors can and *will* do)

Now is the time to seperate from these machinations entirely--and hardware
that at least has Free drivers that can be improved by ANYONE is a pretty
low bar to reach to improve the situation for humanity.  In the long run,
we should strive for Free hardware that has the schematics, including the
processor design source code, available for anyone to use or modify as
he sees fit (this, including the processor, is under way right now).
If there are free alternatives, we should steer people to those alternatives.

> It would be really nice to have at least an unofficial installer with
> nonfree drivers.

We don't stop anyone from making one.  I am a strong believer in freedom 0:
  To be allowed to run the program as you wish, for ANY purpose.

So do it if you think it's useful.  When you distribute the result you
have to be careful to heed the applicable licenses, though.  Funnily
enough the GNU General Public License is a lot less draconian than most
of the licenses you'll have on the closed source firmwares.

GNU is a political movement and the goals are political: To give people
control over their computing.  When you use non-free hardware you
don't have control over your computing.  If we helped you do it, what
would that make us?

>If there is a nonfree installer iso please make a note on the webpage.

We can't do that.

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