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[gNewSense-users] Is Fedora 100% free software? If so, how does it diff

From: J.B. Nicholson-Owens
Subject: [gNewSense-users] Is Fedora 100% free software? If so, how does it differ from gNewSense?
Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2006 00:12:05 -0600
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20061027)

jeff wrote:
Actually, what is in Fedora that isn't 100% Free Software? And I'm not looking for "I think they..." or "I heard they...", but someone who can say: "this particular binary file installed in this directory here in FC6 is non-Free". I think you may be spreading some (likely unintentional) FUD.

I don't think being "100% Free Software" is Fedora's goal.  According to

"Fedora itself is a completely Open Source project. Fedora has a
publicly-available CVS repository, and the source code for every package
is readily available. All code must be covered by an Open Source license
for inclusion in Fedora, guaranteeing your rights to modify and
redistribute the software."

what I'm getting at here is that to me this language says Fedora can use the slightly looser definition of "open source" to allow software under licenses which are not deemed free by the FSF but are deemed "OSI Certified Open Source Software" such as:

- the Original Artistic License,
- Apple Public Source License v1.x,
- Reciprocal Public License,
- and some other licenses listed on

whereas gNewSense would not distribute software licensed under any of these licenses. This is one of the practical differences between the free software and open source movements that comes from the different definitions of the terms "free software" and "open source".

One must also consider that software can be non-free regardless of the form in which it is distributed. Thus, source code counts too, not just binaries.

Using rpm and grep, I found some packages that may match what you're
asking about.  I tried to target packages made by Red Hat, Inc. or the
Fedora Project.  Querying all the packages on a friend's Fedora Core
system, I saw:

- cracklib:ugzilla> which is licensed as "Artistic"

If cracklib is licensed under the original Artistic license (instead of
the clarified Artistic license), the FSF deems cracklib non-free.

- a number of packages whose license is listed as "Freely Distributable"
including krbafs, cyrus-sasl, fonts-ISO8859-2-75dpi, and dos2unix.

Mere redistribution permission is insufficient to be free. Without knowing the exact terms under which this software is distributed to users, it's impossible to say for sure if any of these programs are free.

Another area of concern is repositories -- what software will the
organization distribute to their users from repos under their control,
even if not part of a default install?  Debian, for instance, carries
unambiguously non-free software in repos under their aegis (the
"non-free" repo).

Ubuntu recently bragged about how Ubuntu users could install the
proprietary Opera web browser "with a couple of clicks" while
simultaneously claiming they "will not have restrictive licenses
associated with it".  I blogged about this
when Opera and Ubuntu distributed the press release on this matter.

Does Fedora do something comparable?

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