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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] The "Free" Kernel In Debian Squeeze

From: Henry Jensen
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] The "Free" Kernel In Debian Squeeze
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2010 11:12:33 +0100

Thanks for your work. As I see it the main difference between the
Squeeze kernel and Linux-Libre is the ability to load non-free firmware
and as such the very mentioning of non-free firmware files in the
soruce code.

The Squeeze kernel is still able to load non-free firmware, but it's
not delivered in the main repository (it is in the non-free repo,

Linux-Libre isn't able to load non-free firmware, even if you obtain
the non-free firmware files somehow.

So, it's a matter of attitude. Do we give the user the opportunity to
use non-free software if he wishes to do so, despite the
recommendations, or do we prevent it proactively? 

For example, GNU Icecat doesn't suggest non-free plugins. But Icecat is
still able to load non-free plugins, it is not prevented proactively.
Of course, the main difference is, that non-free software isn't
mentioned in the Icecat source code (at least I assume so, I didn't
check), where non-free software is explicitly mentioned hard-coded in
the source code, so the situation is only slightly comparable.

Giving the user the ability to use non-free software without any
comment leads to a situation where unexperienced users might be not
knowing what they are doing. For example Debian help forums are full of
advices for novice users to activate the non-free repository. Same goes
for Fedora where novice users are encouraged in forums to integrate
non-official repositories with non-free software.

To proactively prevent the use of non-free software on the other hand 
is censorship. I recall RMS pointing out in an interview that any free
operating system should allow to do anything. I CC him, maybe he has
some thoughts to add.

Kind regards,


On Wed, 15 Dec 2010 10:56:07 -0800 (PST)
"Jason Self" <address@hidden> wrote:

> In light of Debian's recent announcement [1] I and others were interested in 
> how
> well the Debian folks cleaned up their kernel. I proceeded to grab the source
> for the Squeeze kernel, ran the linux-libre deblobbing script on it, and then
> diffed it against the original to see what had changed.
> The full deblob log [2] & diff [3] is available to anyone that's interested in
> knowing.
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]

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