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#1 2013-09-12 08:49:31

Kolt Penny
Member
Registered: 2013-09-12
Posts: 107

The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

So, I was wandering around the internet when I found about Hurd and started investigating. Upon research I found this list in which basically you get all distros that have only free software but it got to my attention that ARch wasn't in it, only Parabola. But then I found another list explaining why they didn't ad other distros and the first one is Arch.

I quote:

"Arch has the two usual problems: there's no clear policy about what software can be included, and nonfree blobs are shipped with their kernel, Linux. Arch also has no policy about not distributing nonfree software through their normal channels."

http://www.gnu.org/distros/common-distros.en.html

I would like to see if any of you know the reason for the 'blobs' part.

Thanks in advance.

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#2 2013-09-12 09:05:34

brebs
Member
Registered: 2007-04-03
Posts: 3,444

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Kolt Penny wrote:

reason for the 'blobs'

They are sometimes needed, for the hardware to function properly. E.g. Nvidia's kernel module, for fast opengl.

It's mostly just fanatics, that kick up a fuss wink

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#3 2013-09-12 09:06:00

ijanos
Member
From: Budapest, Hungary
Registered: 2008-03-30
Posts: 440

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

They are useful.

I love GNU and FSF but I will not delete the binary blob that is required for my wireless card to work properly.

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#4 2013-09-12 09:09:16

ijanos
Member
From: Budapest, Hungary
Registered: 2008-03-30
Posts: 440

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

brebs wrote:

It's mostly just fanatics, that kick up a fuss wink

I certainly disagree with that. We need those "fanatics". They are right, software freedom is the way to go and their work helps the community.

It is just not practical for the average person to follow the ideology so strictly.

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#5 2013-09-12 09:33:38

Box0
Member
From: Italy
Registered: 2011-09-21
Posts: 218

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

ijanos wrote:

They are useful.

I love GNU and FSF but I will not delete the binary blob that is required for my wireless card to work properly.


But assuming you have only intel components (no nvidia, no ati, no atheros, etc.) are there still blobs installed by default?

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#6 2013-09-12 09:55:23

Thaodan
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From: Dortmund, Nordrein-Westfalen
Registered: 2012-04-28
Posts: 439

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

as far as I know: no. Except firmware.


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#7 2013-09-12 10:27:06

Kolt Penny
Member
Registered: 2013-09-12
Posts: 107

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Thaodan wrote:

as far as I know: no. Except firmware.

What do you mean?

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#8 2013-09-12 10:27:52

msthev
Member
Registered: 2012-04-05
Posts: 177

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

https://www.archlinux.org/packages/core … -firmware/
Note that this package is required by Arch kernel package.

Last edited by msthev (2013-09-12 10:28:36)

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#9 2013-09-12 11:15:38

Allan
Developer
From: Brisbane, AU
Registered: 2007-06-09
Posts: 10,416
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Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Kolt Penny wrote:

"Arch has the two usual problems: there's no clear policy about what software can be included, and nonfree blobs are shipped with their kernel, Linux. Arch also has no policy about not distributing nonfree software through their normal channels."

That is wrong...  we do have a policy.  We distribute whatever we want as long as we are legally allowed to.

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#10 2013-09-12 14:25:58

Kolt Penny
Member
Registered: 2013-09-12
Posts: 107

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Allan wrote:

That is wrong...  we do have a policy.  We distribute whatever we want as long as we are legally allowed to.

Well, I think they are saying that if you don't support only free software you automatically support privative software.

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#11 2013-09-12 15:06:12

ngoonee
Forum Fellow
From: Between Thailand and Singapore
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 6,839

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Kolt Penny wrote:
Allan wrote:

That is wrong...  we do have a policy.  We distribute whatever we want as long as we are legally allowed to.

Well, I think they are saying that if you don't support only free software you automatically support privative software.

'Proprietary', not 'privative'.

And to be honest, what 'they' say matters nothing. Not to disrespect then, every cause needs its fanatics, but 'if you are not with us you are against us' is a bad motto in life, politics, and technology. In anything, really.


Allan-Volunteer on the (topic being discussed) mailn lists. You never get the people who matters attention on the forums.
jasonwryan-Installing Arch is a measure of your literacy. Maintaining Arch is a measure of your diligence. Contributing to Arch is a measure of your competence.
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#12 2013-09-12 15:16:21

nomorewindows
Member
Registered: 2010-04-03
Posts: 3,010

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Box0 wrote:
ijanos wrote:

They are useful.

I love GNU and FSF but I will not delete the binary blob that is required for my wireless card to work properly.


But assuming you have only intel components (no nvidia, no ati, no atheros, etc.) are there still blobs installed by default?

If you also have intel network components, ipw2*00 came in separate firmware, whereas later wireless comes in linux-firmware.


I may have to CONSOLE you about your usage of ridiculously easy graphical interfaces...
Look ma, no mouse.

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#13 2013-09-12 15:36:44

ewaller
Administrator
From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 13,152

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

One of the things that really annoys me about RMS is that he is always right.  Hell, I think he is prescient; perhaps the whites of his eyes are really cobalt blue.

But, some of us are more pragmatic and use systems that are not entirely free.  That is a decision.  Arch is one of those distributions that does distribute non-Free software.  We do distribute software in accordance with the various licences.

Kolt Penny, so, you registered today and started this thread on support forum.  What is it that you seek?  A justification for why we redistribute non-free software? Recommendations for where to find a totally free Arch like distribution?  Are you suggesting that people move from Arch since we are not free? Or are you looking to stir up some flames?

Arch is what it is.  Your quote asserts that there exists a problem with Arch.  So what.


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#14 2013-09-12 15:53:17

progandy
Member
Registered: 2012-05-17
Posts: 2,151

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Kolt Penny wrote:

it got to my attention that ARch wasn't in it, only Parabola.

Congratulations. So you found your completely free arch derivate. If you feel uncomfortable with propretary binaries in arch, feel free to use it. That is your decision.
I am not exactly in favor of proprietary firmware, but I prefer a smoothly running system over an ideology.

ewaller wrote:

Arch is what it is.  Your quote asserts that there exists a problem with Arch.  So what.

That.

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#15 2013-09-12 17:23:16

WonderWoofy
Member
From: Los Gatos, CA
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8,412

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

As mentioned earlier in the thread, I prefer my hardware to be functional.  Considering that for a number of things, the only option is a firmware blob… yeah, I'm going to use that.  I would (and have) still use them even if I were using one of those distributions on that list.

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#16 2013-09-12 17:45:32

Kolt Penny
Member
Registered: 2013-09-12
Posts: 107

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

ewaller wrote:

One of the things that really annoys me about RMS is that he is always right.  Hell, I think he is prescient; perhaps the whites of his eyes are really cobalt blue.

But, some of us are more pragmatic and use systems that are not entirely free.  That is a decision.  Arch is one of those distributions that does distribute non-Free software.  We do distribute software in accordance with the various licences.

Kolt Penny, so, you registered today and started this thread on support forum.  What is it that you seek?  A justification for why we redistribute non-free software? Recommendations for where to find a totally free Arch like distribution?  Are you suggesting that people move from Arch since we are not free? Or are you looking to stir up some flames?

Arch is what it is.  Your quote asserts that there exists a problem with Arch.  So what.

I was asking this here because I know RMS can overreact a lot but just to be sure I wanted to check if the proprietary software in Arch was as relevant as, for example, Amazon packages on Ubuntu, I was completely sure to install Arch, I was just documenting myself. I'm even using an Atom Chip, and this would probably be questioned by the free software community.

But since now I know this is only for drivers I'm perfectly fine with it.

P.S: Excuse my grammar, I'm not a native english speaker (probably the main reason I used the word privative instead of proprietary software alluding its RMS' spanish word equivalent).

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#17 2013-09-12 18:20:56

Xabre
Member
From: Serbia
Registered: 2009-03-19
Posts: 596

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

wanted to check if the proprietary software in Arch was as relevant as, for example, Amazon packages on Ubuntu

On Arch you install what you want to install. and that's about all that needs to be said about it. There's no need to make any additional big philosophy or dire need to spend more time arguing about something that is entirely in your own control.
Arch is what it is, how will you use it is up to you.

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#18 2013-09-12 18:32:05

Trilby
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From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 14,032
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Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

I'd be all for a truly functional universal healthcare system*.  But regardless how important I feel that step is for our society, I will not refuse to pay for medical care if I break a leg.

I'm completely with RMS when he talks about how things should be.  But, quite frankly, he can wish in one hand and crap in the other ... what he wants is not what is, at least not yet.  So while we strive for the world we desire, we live in the world we have.


* I don't think any of the proposals for such a system in the USA are any good, and thus I am adamantly against the existing proposals, but that is far off couse for the present purposes.  I hear good things about the UK's NHS, but have no first hand knowledge.


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#19 2013-09-12 18:33:16

Roken
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2012-01-16
Posts: 672

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Honestly, I love Linux because I love having the freedom to make my system mine. If, as a part of that free choice, I include closed source blobs (And I did manage without for a while), that remains a part of my freedom.

I respect what the FSF are trying to do, but in the real world, it isn't practical to do it.

EDIT: Hell, even my LFS build ended up with closed software  (fglrx)

Last edited by Roken (2013-09-12 18:35:27)


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#20 2013-09-12 18:51:15

blackout23
Member
Registered: 2011-11-16
Posts: 780

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

I'm glad that Arch doesn't follow some stupid ideology. I think most Archers simply like software in general, free and open source software even more.

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#21 2013-09-12 20:00:09

Awebb
Member
Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,437

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Sometimes a little ideology wouldn't be a bad start. I quit uni in April (again :-( ). It was not because of the following, but that fact sure helped me getting over it.

I studied Computational Linguistics at a German university. While it was hard enough to be an "old fart" in between all those 19-21 year olds, the official channels had a clearly monetary goal. You were drilled from day one, that you will one day create something, patent it and sell it to the highest bidder. Even though Python was the language of choice, they refused to give their modifications to libraries back upstream and encouraged us to use non-copyleft licences. There was even doubt, that publishing software under the GPL was compatible with the rule book regarding home work we had to do. They did not want to hear or talk about open source. They think open source saws on the legs of their elite chairs. Then, since basically knowledge equals sourcecode in CL, they promoted the idea, that every scientific progress needs to be formally published through the right (industry) channels, so nobody picks up their idea and causes them to earn only one million instead of two.

The open {source,data,knowledge} mindset is very important to me. Ideally, I would love to see everybody learn a programming language and happily code together with others, instead of having a disparity of 50% in salary between a programmer with formal training and a BS degree holder from universities, who work only as much and sometimes less and instead of seeing big companies get away with everything, just because they are not only allowed but encouraged to withhold knowledge from their fellow humans.

However, unless I can buy hardware, that works properly without binary blobs, without importing it from whoknowswhere, i will have to accept, that my kernel is not blob free.

EDIT:

But, ehm, that link... they explicitly state, that they will only check and endorse distributions, if the developer asks them to do so, but they are fine with pointing fingers? Would "dicks" be the appropriate word?

EDIT2:

I also think they should not try to slap that GNU/ on official names. The archlinux logo, for example, does not contain any GNU/. In fact, they wrote about a fantasy distro, which is branded in a way that immitates Arch. While I personally don't give a flying turd, how do they not have lawyers to tell them, that they might get in trouble for this?

Last edited by Awebb (2013-09-12 20:08:45)

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#22 2013-09-12 20:16:17

Box0
Member
From: Italy
Registered: 2011-09-21
Posts: 218

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

msthev wrote:

https://www.archlinux.org/packages/core … -firmware/
Note that this package is required by Arch kernel package.

Ah... thanks, that cleared it up for me,
I'm seeing the Parabola folks have the free version of the same package without amd stuff and maybe more:
https://parabolagnulinux.org/packages/l … -firmware/

edit:

Can someone confrm that the amd-ucode stuff is the only proprietary chunk in the linux-firmware package? It seems the Parabola firmware package is exactly the same except for that part.

Last edited by Box0 (2013-09-12 20:22:41)

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#23 2013-09-12 21:29:27

progandy
Member
Registered: 2012-05-17
Posts: 2,151

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Box0 wrote:

Can someone confrm that the amd-ucode stuff is the only proprietary chunk in the linux-firmware package? It seems the Parabola firmware package is exactly the same except for that part.

Parabola provides the vanilla linux-libre kernel I guess. What it contains and does not contain should be somwhere here: http://www.fsfla.org/ikiwiki/selibre/linux-libre/
.. here is the script that is used to clean the firmware blobs for 3.11. It contains a list with rejected binaries.
http://www.fsfla.org/svn/fsfla/software … eblob-3.11

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#24 2013-09-12 22:13:16

rufus
Banned
From: san francisco
Registered: 2013-04-20
Posts: 153

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

I think its great that such Distros exist as well as those that dont comply to such standards. Lets not be offended and ,in
essence, have an elitist attitude that is mean spirited. Rather I say show support. Wouldnt it be wonderful if all source was open?
But reality is. Keep in mind that closed source proponants are the true (greedy) zealots. Closed source spauns viruses, selfishness,
and is counter-productive to the linux community. Kudos to parabola and their ethic!.

Edit; from my recollection Parabola and other "free" distros emit from and are sponcered by Universitys. How much can you lurn
          from closed source without backward engineering?

Last edited by rufus (2013-09-12 22:27:24)


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#25 2013-09-12 22:37:53

cfr
Member
From: Cymru
Registered: 2011-11-27
Posts: 5,662

Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

I have great respect for FSF and I wish that I could abide by their recommendations.

That said, I wish that there was some place I could find recommendations for hardware/software combinations which, while falling short of the ideal, were significantly more free than the alternatives. For example, as far as I can tell no complete desktop system - let alone laptop or tablet - meets the criteria FSF would need to recommend it. I think that is a woeful state of affairs and I fully support putting pressure on manufacturers to rectify it. In the meantime, though, if you need a computer, it is not unreasonable to try to find the best compromise you can. But it is difficult - perhaps impossible - to find suitable recommendations. At least, I've not found them yet.

This gap is not FSF's responsibility, however. I just wish it was effectively and reliably filled by somebody!


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