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Re: Developing free non-gnu operating systems

From: Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli
Subject: Re: Developing free non-gnu operating systems
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2021 23:12:22 +0200

On Mon, 30 Aug 2021 12:25:21 -0700
Theodore Somers <> wrote:

> How is the ReactOs package manager different from package managers on 
> unix-like systems?
If I recall well, at the time they didn't host the software that was
available in their package manager at all. 

Their "package manager" was merely a tool to download software from
various URLs and execute their installers. However the interface was
quite similar to existing graphical package manager frontends.

The technical advantage of implementing in this way is that it requires
way less work.

However at least one of the software available through that system
(mIRC) was nonfree, so even if the underlying architecture was very
different from classical package managers that uses repositories of
software, it was at least in practice steering users toward the
installation of nonfree software (like mIRC).

Note that this was many years ago, and that I didn't look at how their
package manager evolved or if they still have one.

As I understand, if an FSDG version of ReactOS is made, and that it
also has some sort of package manager, additional issues will also
need to be taken care of somehow:
- In the past software for Windows sometimes had nonfree "system"
  libraries bundled in it. That might still be the case today.
- As with Android software, Software for an FSDG version of ReactOS
  would also needs to be able to be built with only free software on
  top of an FSDG distributions.

At the end of the day, for people that have some technical skills, I
think that the best way to actually encourage the development of FSDG
compliant non-gnu distributions is to actually do the work to create

That's exactly how Replicant really took off: several people (me
included) did the work that was needed to create a fully free Android
distribution, and at the beginning that work was easy to do for all the
areas where work was needed (getting hosting and a name, making the
hardware work, finding how to make it boot without registration, etc).

It then attracted more people that took the project where it is today.

Since I'm still involved in one non-gnu FSDG distribution (Replicant)
and that I don't have the time to start something like an FSDG version
of ReactOS, if you really care about that and have some very basic
technical sills, it might be a good thing to work on that.

Alternatively, the FSF also has some information where technical work
can have huge impacts[1], and you might also have some other ideas of
what you think is important to work on (like free software for positive
social changes for instance).



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