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#51 2013-09-22 04:28:05

isacdaavid
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From: México
Registered: 2011-11-21
Posts: 76
Website

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.

And this is why we should selectively buy hardware that respects our freedoms™. I'll be doing this when I have the money to replace my laptop. These days the only kind of hardware for which free software isn't advanced enough are dedicated GPUs. Even so, radeon and chiefly nouveau are tremendous attempts.

progandy wrote:

I am not exactly in favor of proprietary firmware, but I prefer a smoothly running system over an ideology.

Bad news, Arch also carries its own ideology https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/The_Arch_Way and most people here somewhat agree with the ideas behind FOSS, you can quote me on that. Have you considered Mac OS X or Solaris? They are allegedly smooth, Unix-like and so, but they don't mind that much about philosophy.

@Trilby
Reading where you are from I am tempted to ask if you are going to attend GNU's 30th anniversary or something: https://gnu.org/gnu30/

Roken wrote:

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.

Yes, and those who want an Arch GNU+Linux system that makes it simple to run only free-as-in-freedom software have Parabola.

cfr wrote:

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.

What about h-node? https://www.fsf.org/resources/hw
It's far from complete, but the database is supposed to grow in a collaborative fashion.
Regarding tablets, I watched a Venezuelan one on youtube called VIT T1100 that is sold with Debian Wheezy and Gnome Shell by default.

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#52 2013-09-22 06:09:33

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

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

isacdaavid wrote:
progandy wrote:

I am not exactly in favor of proprietary firmware, but I prefer a smoothly running system over an ideology.

Bad news, Arch also carries its own ideology https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/The_Arch_Way and most people here somewhat agree with the ideas behind FOSS, you can quote me on that. Have you considered Mac OS X or Solaris? They are allegedly smooth, Unix-like and so, but they don't mind that much about philosophy.

I did not say that I oppose the concept of an ideology, just that I am sometimes willing to make concessions if I believe that it helps the overall situation. I don't see bad news for me here.

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#53 2013-09-23 00:37:02

Anthony Bentley
Member
Registered: 2009-12-21
Posts: 76

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

OpenBSD (which technically isn’t a Linux distribution, but close enough) has a strict no‐blobs policy. Even some other BSDs have closed‐source Nvidia drivers, for example, but OpenBSD does not on principle. However, that’s not enough for the FSF, who claim that OpenBSD is non‐free for two reasons:

  • Some non‐free software is available as a package.

  • The system includes closed‐source firmwares for certain hardware.

Notice how these are the same complaints levied against Arch (except that OpenBSD does have an explicit policy of what software goes into the base system).

So we’re at an impasse: group A believes that firmwares that run entirely on the peripheral hardware don’t count as binary blobs in an operating system, while group B believes that they do. Both sides believe the other side is wrong. I happen to believe the FSF is wrong in this case, because I see an inconsistency: they believe that it’s morally okay to run a closed‐source firmware on a piece of peripheral hardware if it is burned into a ROM chip that can’t be modified by the user, but that it’s morally wrong to run a closed‐source firmware on a piece of peripheral hardware by uploading it from the operating system. To me it should be the opposite—the hardware that allows you to upload your own firmware should be considered “more free” than one that has it burned into an unalterable ROM.

I’m a big fan of free, open source software, and I don’t believe in binary blobs like video drivers because they touch the kernel and have all kinds of nasty effects. But in my opinion, these firmwares are a different case.

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#54 2013-09-23 00:49:26

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

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

Anthony Bentley wrote:

So we’re at an impasse: group A believes that firmwares that run entirely on the peripheral hardware don’t count as binary blobs in an operating system, while group B believes that they do. Both sides believe the other side is wrong.

I think this is far far too black and white to be reasonable…

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#55 2013-09-23 00:49:56

cfr
Member
From: Cymru
Registered: 2011-11-27
Posts: 5,675

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

I don't think the FSF claim it is morally wrong to use closed-source firmware. At least, I don't recall them making this claim. They think it is morally wrong to distribute closed-source firmware. Moreover, they do have objections to closed-source firmware burned to ROM. The point is that this is not grounds to criticise an OS since the OS doesn't distribute that firmware. Rather, that is grounds to criticise the hardware and/or firmware manufacturers (and FSF do criticise them on these grounds).

I do think they believe it is morally preferable to avoid closed-source firmware but that's a slightly different point.


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#56 2013-09-23 01:11:01

fukawi2
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From: .vic.au
Registered: 2007-09-28
Posts: 5,304
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Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

We are all aware this is a controversial topic. However, since it is directly related to Arch and GNU/Linux in general I will allow it to continue for now so long as the posts remain constructive and on-topic. If the discussion degenerates into personal attacks or otherwise violates our Forum Etiquette I will not hesitate to close it.

I am not accusing anyone of this behaviour so far, but history shows us how quickly these topics can go downhill. Keep playing nice folks! smile

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#57 2013-09-23 09:29:14

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,537

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

Anthony Bentley wrote:

I happen to believe the FSF is wrong in this case, because I see an inconsistency: they believe that it’s morally okay to run a closed‐source firmware on a piece of peripheral hardware if it is burned into a ROM chip that can’t be modified by the user, but that it’s morally wrong to run a closed‐source firmware on a piece of peripheral hardware by uploading it from the operating system. To me it should be the opposite—the hardware that allows you to upload your own firmware should be considered “more free” than one that has it burned into an unalterable ROM.

This is incorrect. You are generating implicatures from non-existing implications. The FSF opposes, in fact, closed source firmware, no matter where it is burned into. They just do not have any influence about what happens inside a closed device. To be more specific on your claim here: The FSF does not prefer ROM based firmware. Please provide a link, where the FSF has said so. In fact, there have been instances, where FSF members recommended buying different hardware because of non-alterable non-open firmwares, after I asked them for insights.

Too much reading between the lines on your part.

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#58 2013-09-25 02:39:04

Anthony Bentley
Member
Registered: 2009-12-21
Posts: 76

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

Awebb wrote:
Anthony Bentley wrote:

I happen to believe the FSF is wrong in this case, because I see an inconsistency: they believe that it’s morally okay to run a closed‐source firmware on a piece of peripheral hardware if it is burned into a ROM chip that can’t be modified by the user, but that it’s morally wrong to run a closed‐source firmware on a piece of peripheral hardware by uploading it from the operating system. To me it should be the opposite—the hardware that allows you to upload your own firmware should be considered “more free” than one that has it burned into an unalterable ROM.

This is incorrect. You are generating implicatures from non-existing implications. The FSF opposes, in fact, closed source firmware, no matter where it is burned into. They just do not have any influence about what happens inside a closed device. To be more specific on your claim here: The FSF does not prefer ROM based firmware. Please provide a link, where the FSF has said so.

Certainly.

The ethical issues of free software arise because users obtain programs and install them in computers; they don't really apply to hidden embedded computers, or the BIOS burned in a ROM, or the microcode inside a processor chip, or the firmware that is wired into a processor in an I/O device. In aspects that relate to their design, those things are software; but as regards copying and modification, they may as well be hardware. The BIOS in ROM was, indeed, not a problem.

Since that time, the situation has changed. Today the BIOS is no longer burned in ROM; it is stored in nonvolatile writable memory that users can rewrite. Today the BIOS sits square on the edge of the line. It comes prewritten in our computers, and normally we never install another. So far, that is just barely enough to excuse treating it as hardware. But once in a while the manufacturer suggests installing another BIOS, which is available only as an executable. This, clearly, is installing a non-free program--it is just as bad as installing Microsoft Windows, or Adobe Photoshop, or Sun's Java Platform. As the unethical practice of installing another BIOS executable becomes common, the version delivered inside the computer starts to raise an ethical problem issue as well.

Compare with my original quote: “…they believe that it’s morally okay to run a closed‐source firmware on a piece of peripheral hardware if it is burned into a ROM chip that can’t be modified by the user, but that it’s morally wrong to run a closed‐source firmware on a piece of peripheral hardware by uploading it from the operating system.”

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#59 2013-09-25 07:48:11

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,537

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

I expected something like this. There is still a lot of interpretation on your side, so let me explain. The mention of blackboxed BIOSes is historical, they couldn't have done anything about that hard coded software, as much as they couldn't have changed a complex logic circuit (hard wired software, in a matter of speaking). The intent here is, that with the emergence of OS based firmwares, the firmware question has moved directly into the FSF's range of influence. You also have to understand, that the complexity of blackboxed firmwares back then was closer to the circuitry than to today's mini operating systems. You couldn't change the BIOS back then, you had to accept it, you were unable to buy anything with an open BIOS. Those times are over. There are no excuses in 2005 or 2013 anymore to burn a BIOS on a ROM.

The only thing left of your quarrel with the topic is now ten years old rhetorics about the market situation three decades ago.

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#60 2013-09-25 09:43:42

MilenKid
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Registered: 2013-04-21
Posts: 86

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

What is strange for me is the free/freedom/free as in freedom part. I think that’s a load of c**p. I am with FSF (even if passively) but the freedom part is a bunch of manipulative propaganda.

Parabola basically strips your arch. Trisquel doesn’t let you install certain packages, we all know which one. So if my choice is to use something non-free, the OS will not let me.

Where is the freedom in this?

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#61 2013-09-25 10:14:40

jasonwryan
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From: .nz
Registered: 2009-05-09
Posts: 19,364
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Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

MilenKid wrote:

Parabola basically strips your arch. Trisquel doesn’t let you install certain packages, we all know which one. So if my choice is to use something non-free, the OS will not let me.

Where is the freedom in this?


The freedom to choose to run those distros. For some, principles are more important than convenience.


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#62 2013-09-25 10:57:14

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,537

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

The FSF version of "free" is similar to the Arch version of "simple". Both concepts have a certain focus. You cannot be "free" in every aspect at once. You cannot be liberated from super strict closed source driver policies while being totally fine with closed source drivers. You cannot be free of all garments without being free of cell door bars in the long run. Look at the free market, everybody is free to trade goods and services without regulation (this would be the ultimate form), but you, as a lower life form (read: customer) are not free to do anything besides picking your company and give them all your money. I salute the effort of those, who create distros like Parabola. They will soon or later have an itch we don't have and they will scratch it. We all benefit of those brave martyrs' idealists' actings, as they create an alternative to closed software for all of us.

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#63 2013-09-25 13:12:05

To98
Member
Registered: 2013-01-27
Posts: 21

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

I see no problem with 100% free distros. If you have hardware that supports it and you don't need non-free software you have a perfect free distro. Why install proprietary drivers if your hardware runs fine without them?

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#64 2013-09-25 17:19:13

drcouzelis
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From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 2009-11-09
Posts: 3,523
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Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

MilenKid wrote:

What is strange for me is the free/freedom/free as in freedom part. I think that’s a load of c**p. I am with FSF (even if passively) but the freedom part is a bunch of manipulative propaganda.

The software freedom aspect that you are referring to is why the Free Software Foundation exists. You can't be "with the FSF" and not believe in software freedom.

If you believe it's morally wrong to use or support non-free software, then you are a proponent of free software.

If you believe in using the best software no matter the license but that the best software is usualy open source, then you are a proponent of the open source software.

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#65 2013-09-25 21:09:21

MilenKid
Member
Registered: 2013-04-21
Posts: 86

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

You misunderstood me. My rant was about the association between freedom (outside software) and free software. That's all. I have nothing against Parabola/RMS/GNU.
Using free software restricts your choice, simple as that.  That does not mean that freedom equals choice and only that, but it is part of it.

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#66 2013-09-25 22:06:46

Trilby
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From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 14,208
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Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Choosing to use free software restricts your choice?  I love irony, but that's just an overload.

If anyone *forced* you to use free software, that would restrict your choice.


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#67 2013-09-26 03:01:14

cfr
Member
From: Cymru
Registered: 2011-11-27
Posts: 5,675

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

And the FSF argues that freedom "outside software" is entangled with free software. I think they are ultimately right about this but whether they are right or not isn't really relevant. I don't see you can be "with FSF" and reject this connection. You can be sympathetic to some of their aims for different reasons. But that's not being "with" them as I understand it. Maybe you are just more comfortable with the open source movement than the free software movement?


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#68 2013-09-26 08:04:48

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,537

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

This thread is slowly drifting into rhetoric problems that could be avoided by some more thorough thinking. People are stuck in single words, instead of grasping the concepts.

To clear things up:
1. A Linux distribution, that does not ship unfree software does not stop you from installing unfree software on it. It simply does not ship unfree software by default. Unfree software is just not supported. If you insist on using unfree software, then you are expected to care for that yourself. You are still free to implement anything you want, your freedom has not been reduced.
2. If you use a distribution, that deliberately refuses to support unfree software, then you knew what you have to expect. Maybe you even need a 100% free distribution, because you want to develop something in a country with stronger regulations. Maybe you simply dislike unfree software. It is your choice, nobody forces you to use such a distro and you can use another distro any time. Your liberty has not been compromised.

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#69 2013-09-26 14:12:19

drcouzelis
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From: Connecticut, USA
Registered: 2009-11-09
Posts: 3,523
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Re: The GNU list of 'truly' free as in freedom distros

Awebb wrote:

To clear things up...

Well said! Richard Stallman hasn't forced me to do anything. I chose to become a freetard by my own free will! big_smile

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#70 2013-09-26 18:14:07

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

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

And to think I was just asking a simple thing.

Ironically enough, I got a few days ago this very odd netbook, it's a Blue Light Ivia 2011 and I installed a Manjaro distro I had on DVD nearby just to see if it worked. It did as expected, everything was working fine, even audio and video cards were running perfectly.

After this, I thought "Well, if Manjaro could be installed I'm sure Arch will run as smoothly". Surprisingly enough, I burned Arch into a USB, tried running it and... ERROR, the BIOS in this computer was conflicting with the EFI in the distro (this I knew after googling the error). I tried to do it again, this time with a regular CD (this was before googling the error). Same results.

After going into the web for a while, I got tired of cat pics and started researching about what was going on with this BIOS in my possession. Turns out the BIOS manufacturer, American Megatrends, don't give support to this because it's a custom motherboard, I searched for the motherboard manufacturer and another surprise, it's the same company that makes the whole computer, Blue Light, which is a disappeared electronics branch of a company in my country called Elektra.

What could I do? That was the only possible solution. I couldn't install coreboot because I feared that it wouldn't be compatible with my motherboard. Every other distro could run fine but I REALLY wanted Arch in this machine, it was perfect test subject.

Then, on the verge of desperation, my brain reminded me of this thread. Could it be? Were those blobs the cause for all this troubles? Makes sense, but it wasn't. A I said in the beginning, It was Arch's EFI. So I downloaded a copy of Parabola in a last attempt to do something about it and... worked like a charm.

Have in mind that I'm a beginner at Linux all together and it was a hard time for me since I don't know too much as probably a lot of you do. (And I know, this could all be avoided trying to install Parabola from the beginning, but I learned a lot through the process).

English is not my main language, so bear with me.

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#71 2013-09-26 19:48:01

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,537

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

Uhm, so you say your bios-driven mainboard had trouble booting the Arch installer? This might be worth a thread and a bug report.

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#72 2013-09-26 19:49:30

4freedoms4me
Member
Registered: 2013-09-26
Posts: 2

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

brebs wrote:
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.

If  I understand the FSF viewpoint correctly, software such as Nvidia's binary driver are unjust and unethical. The reason Nvidia's closed binary driver is considered unjust and unethical is,  since you weren't given the source code to the driver, you can not recompile it or alter it for your needs. Here's a perfect example of where this leads:

"I've read the firmware blobs decompilation and I'm quite concerned about possible security implications.

The PGRAPH context switch microcode allows user to read/write arbitrary
MMIO registers by submitting the firmware methods. The GF100+ video
decoding etc. falcon microcodes allow you to just ask for physical
instead of virtual addressing, and that includes physical system memory.
Why did nVidia include such obviously security-breaking functionality in
the firmware images? As I understand it, a user having access to just
the FIFO submission interface should only have access to his own VM
area, and not have enough power to take over the machine. Is there any
security model for nVidia hardware/firmware/kernel driver system?"

Source

To sum up:

1. The Nvidia driver contains security holes, according to decompilation output.
2. Since Nvidia refuses to supply the source code for the driver, you are left high and dry with no way whatsoever to patch these security holes.

Now, if your definition of 'functions properly' includes functioning with security holes which you have no way to repair, then the above points will not concern you. I would think, however, you would understand how the above points could be considered to be both unjust and unethical, regardless of the origin of the viewpoint.

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#73 2013-09-26 23:35:36

cfr
Member
From: Cymru
Registered: 2011-11-27
Posts: 5,675

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

@Kolt Penny,

I agree with Awebb. I would start a new thread to figure out if it is a bug and then file a bug report if it is.

I'm a bit curious about what is meant by "Arch's" EFI and how Parabola's might be different. As far as I know, the EFI stuff is in the kernel or modules and doesn't involve any binary blobs. (However, I could be very wrong about this very easily.) So I'm curious as to what the differences might be.


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#74 2013-09-27 02:27:30

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

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

cfr wrote:

@Kolt Penny,

I agree with Awebb. I would start a new thread to figure out if it is a bug and then file a bug report if it is.

I'm a bit curious about what is meant by "Arch's" EFI and how Parabola's might be different. As far as I know, the EFI stuff is in the kernel or modules and doesn't involve any binary blobs. (However, I could be very wrong about this very easily.) So I'm curious as to what the differences might be.

Yeah, I think I may, because this happens only with Arch's ISO loader. It's going to be difficult though, because the motherboard and BIOS are conflicting with it and both are custom-made.

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#75 2013-09-27 02:38:20

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

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

Ok, something really weird just happened. I say this is because my laptop is 'very special' to not say that it is a 'piece of crap'. Just now I tried to boot Arch again to see what was the problem so I could type it in and post it in the installation forum, I connected the USB, booted it and it suddenly worked. WTF guys? I'm laughing while I try to figure out what happened. Did running the HDT in Parabola did something to my BIOS somehow?, btw I searched in my web history and the error was the following: "UEFI: Failed to install override security policy".

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