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Re: [gNewSense-users] why we started from the distro we started from

From: Dave Crossland
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] why we started from the distro we started from
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 00:42:34 +0000

On 20/11/06, Paul O'Malley <address@hidden> wrote:

In Nov 2005 RMS met Mark S at the WIPO gig in Tunis.

I've been thinking about this. While Mark Shuttleworth himself seems
very committed to Free Software above 'Open Source' - in the panel
session he shared with RMS at that WIPO gig in Tunis he promoted FS
over OS for example - Ubuntu and Canonical are clearly not as
committed to Free Software.

I can see that this faltering committment may be strategic - if Ubuntu
gets several million users by dishing out gratis LiveCDs it may have
lobbying force to - say - get GPL graphics card drivers released. But
this is a case of 'the ends justify the means', and I personally
disagree with this anyway. Plus lately, the deals with VMWare and Real
and Opera and Mozilla I can't see as being strategic at all.
Especially when they don't include GPL MP3 decoders...

So I'm not sure that Ubuntu is the best base to chose to take 100% Free.

gNewSense struggles to remove Ubuntu's non-free packages - though the
gNewSense repository meets a basic level of freeness,
WINE/ndiswrapper/etc aside, the 'Add/Remove' interface on the
Applications menu has a 'Show Commecial Applications" tickbox and
prominently displays RealPlayer even though it is not available in the
gNewSense repositories. (I just filed this as a bug :-)

The real unique thing that you core gNewSense developers have done is
to put a lot of excellent work into removing proprietary firmware from
the Linux kernel. But this will be an ongoing struggle, since it is
included by the upstream maintainers, and Ubuntu certainly
will not be helping this effort.

Debian has just been suggested as a 'better base' than Ubuntu, but looking at

it appears that this is unlikely to change anytime soon. And Debian's
non-free  repositories will also need to be struggled against.

However, Fedora already has 100% free repositories sorted out,
according to and is
about to cross check this.

Fedora is still not as free as gNewSense, because it has an explicit
policy of including firmware, like Debian:

So, I would like to confirm that the firmware gNewSense removes from
Ubuntu is only in the Linux kernel.

If this is the case, I would also like to gently tender the suggestion
that gNewSense also consider a Builder for Fedora that ports its 100%
Free Kernel that way.


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