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Re: [gNewSense-users] KFV: Detecting sourceless firmware

From: Sam Geeraerts
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] KFV: Detecting sourceless firmware
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 20:44:35 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla-Thunderbird (X11/20080110)

Brian Brazil wrote:
On Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 11:08 AM, Markus Laire <address@hidden> wrote:

Brian Brazil wrote:

On Tue, Apr 22, 2008 at 10:33 AM, Markus Laire <address@hidden<mailto:
address@hidden>> wrote:
  Also, do you mean by "you should be looking at the entire file in
  any case" only checking the whole file for sourceless blobs, or also
  something else (e.g. whether there are additional license details
  somewhere else than in first comment)?

Yes, also checking for other license details. I'd be very suprised if
there's something non-free (by Linux's definition) in the license header,
but caveats in the actual code might have snuck in.

That is nice ideal, but I doubt whether this project will (for the
forseeable future) have enough manpower and will to actually read through
everything contained in Linux Kernel (>260MB at the moment).

That doesn't mean we shouldn't do it though. Heurstics can only get you so
far, reading through everything is the only way to be sure.


If heuristics and helper scripts can get us 80% (or more) of the way pretty fast then it's probably better to go by that way first (as we're doing now). But we should strive to achieve the goal that has been set, even if it's ambitious.

What we then need to consider is: do we hold off the release until we have a 100% for sure completely libre distro or do we just finish our current work ("glancing over" the licenses and blobs of our current kernel and then doing the same for the diff with Ubuntu's release kernel) and do an early release with updates afterwards.

The problem with the former is that it's going to take a long time until the release. That means users and (potential) contributors may loose interest eventually which will slow the work down even more. On the other hand, it could also be an incentive to start helping out, although I think that's less likely.

Doing an early release does not deliver on our promise and I think that should be made very clear then. But the release notes should also include that a lot of work has already been done and that the team is strongly committed to fulfill that promise of complete and guaranteed freedom in the short term. I don't think an early release should be done for reasons of convenience (having newer software, postponing the thorough check indefinitely), but in the interest of gaining more momentum. If we release soon after Ubuntu, we can kind of ride the wave of it's media attention and possibly attract more contributors. For example, if we can release before (or on) the 3rd of May I intend to pimp gNewSense (but not as a speaker) at the Belgian release party (

On a related note, I've been following the "Rethinking Gobuntu" thread on the Gobuntu mailing list. It sadly seems to have died, but I think Mark Shuttleworth does have a point. We should try to think of ways to cooperate closer with Ubuntu, not only to make our work easier but also to attract more attention from members of the Ubuntu community who would like to contribute to gNewSense. But that discussion is probably best left for a later (quieter) time.

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