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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] is this work-group still serving the community?

From: bill-auger
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] is this work-group still serving the community?
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 2021 20:33:55 -0400

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> not sure that FSDG, as it is today, allows this to happen in an
> objective manner.

it doesnt - it is on the road-map we would like to see though

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> These are the clauses which were/are instrumental for arguments
> against including things like Firefox (includes a catalog of addons,
> some of which are non-free) or Debian-style kernels (load non-free
> firmware blobs if those are present).

i would add, third-party-packager managers: pip, gem, npm, etc

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> First one is the assumption that it's the job of the
> Operating System or the Distribution as a whole to determine whether
> every piece of software out there is free or non-free.

"vet" is not quite accurate - it is not required to
comprehensively audit all software, only to accept bug reports
and act upon them

the key is that the maintainers need some way to filter or
delete the offensive packages, so that none of the distro's
software ever offers non-free software to users directly -
this is among the largest road-map item affecting most FSDG
distros, which is yet to be addressed satisfactorily - there is
a plan (GNU will host curated "libre" repos for TPPMs); but it
needs a lot of effort

parabola ticket #1035 is the most thorough discussion on the
topic, that i know of

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> Another assumption FSDG makes, a stronger one, even, is that
> "steering" or even "referring" a user toward non-free sources is
> bad/unacceptable.

"referring" is understood as not merely as in: "referencing" or
"mentioning", even a brand name, (parabola mentions "arch" many
places); but as in: "inviting" or "directing toward" - its more
about avoiding to explain how to get, install, or use non-free
software, and having no URLs or down-loaders inviting and leading
directly toward where non-free software can be found, or even
worse: automatically/silently

i expect that this specific point is non-negotiable; but i dont
think that it forbids mere mentions - for example, the parabola
ticket above mentions and critiques those repos; - it mentions
them as a problem to work on, as this mailing list would, not to
recommend that anyone use them, except perhaps to learn how to
liberate them

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> Distribution comes with Web browser, the home page is But
> Google has no commitment to free software, and sponsors bad
> links. Fail.

the "commitment to free software" bit is related to repositories
- it is for privacy reasons, that icecat (the only acceptable
replacement for chromium and firefox) removes as an
offered search engine 

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> A distribution based on Debian includes docs which refer to Debian by
> name, because a full rename of everything within distro is intractable?
> Fail.

again, not merely referencing by name - that example would be
satisfied by the distro hosting its own repos and documentation,
and not needing to "direct toward" debian

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> A web page for a libre software package has a reference to a non-free
> code repository which was instrumental in some way for the creation
> and the design of that free package? Fail.

just mention, but dont link to it - i dont believe that anyone
interprets "reference" so loosely

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> Debian-style deblob is perfectly fine. If the mere ability to quickly
> plug in a non-free module crosses the line

that is not the conflict, at least not overtly - that
linux-libre can not load unknown modules, is as i understand,
not by design, but is a bug - i think linux-libre would still be
acceptable with that bug fixed

the conflict is when the debian kernel can not find a non-free
module, it will alert the user with an error message - many
years ago, RMS expressed dislike for the presentation as errors,
suggesting that the user has done something wrong,
by failing to install non-free software - it may be related to
why linux-libre prints /*DEBLOBBED*/ instead?

On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 14:13:45 -0700 Ivan wrote:
> The job of FSF should be cracking legal nuts that the

it is important to distinguish the FSF and GNU here - the FSDG
work-group is less about politics and more about auditing
software and maintaining patches - so, i see the FSDG work-group
as having more of a GNU role - GNU makes an operating system,
the distros maintain them, and the FSDG work-group keeps a few of
them within GNU standards

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