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[GNU-linux-libre] Chromium, ungoogled or otherwise, and Guix

From: Jason Self
Subject: [GNU-linux-libre] Chromium, ungoogled or otherwise, and Guix
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2019 20:42:45 -0800

I decided to spend some time looking into Chromium, ungoogled-chromium, 
and Guix's methods, and the GNU FSDG.

Even if vanilla Chromium does check out to be 100% free software it's
already pretty easy to tell that it wouldn't be FSFG compliant, at
least not out of the box.

One is because of add-ons. It has a similiar problem to Firefox where
people get sent to a place with both free and proprietary add-ons.

Another is the support Widevine DRM, which seems to go against "the
distro must contain no DRM..." in the FSDG.

Thirdly, Chromium appears to ship with binaries in the source tree (the
ungoogled-chromium README mentions that they "strip binaries from the
source tree, and use those provided by the system or build them from
source".) This seems the appropriate thing to do for FSDG compliance,
since "all information for practical use in a free distribution must be
available in source form." The source tree of a program shouldn't
itself come with binaries, IMO, only source code.

My proposal would be to mention these items in the chromium-browser
entry on the libreplanet wiki either in addition to or in place of the
current references of licensing problems that the wiki page has.

Since some issues need fixing in Chromium regardless before an FSF-
endorsed distro could ship it I then turned my attention to ungoogled-
chromium to see if it could be a potential fix for those things. They
do seem to disable the webstore URLs so the add-on problem seems fixed
and stripping out binaries from the source tree seems to fix the third
problem, but they don't appear to remove the Widevine DRM.

As long as that remains the case it would seem that ungoogled-chromium
is also not suitable for inclusion in FSF-endorsed distros, at least
not out of the box. Since Guix has added ungoogled-chromium, without
seemingly have changed it to also tackle the DRM portion, I have
reported this to their bug tracker. I'm waiting to receive the bug

The last item seems specific to Guix: Their method of building seems to
involve downloading Chromium, then runnning ungoogled-chromium over it,
and then building.

That would mean, if someone wanted to build it on Guix themselves, that
they'd also be going through those same steps. I don't know that FSF-
endorsed distros should be having their users download non-FSDG
compliant software in order to build them, even if its patched and
modified during the build process.

When LibreWRT was founded in 2010 (before it later merged into
libreCMC) we submitted a similiar question to the FSF, as to if it was
sufficient for the LibreWRT build scripts (which would be run by the
person building the firmware image from source, just like how someone
might instruct Guix to build from source) to download Linux and then
run the Linux-libre deblobbing scripts on it vs having the build
scripts instead download tarballs that were already cleaned up. I can't
seem to find the email from back then but the response was that we
needed to use already cleaned-up tarballs. Guix should do something

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