No easy way to have a fully free install

Reported by Javier Jardón on 2009-05-02
112
This bug affects 22 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Linux-libre
Critical
Linux Libre Packages
Debian
New
Unknown
Fedora
Unknown
Unknown
Ubuntu
Wishlist
Linux Libre Packages
Declined for Maverick by Sebastien Bacher

Bug Description

Contrary to popular belief, the Linux kernel from kernel.org is not free software. It not only recommends non-free software but also actually contains it (i.e., software that does not respect your essential freedoms). Because of this, the default install contains non-free software. Here are some links with more info and lists of the non-free software in the kernel:

http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/gnu_linux_and_freedom_nonfree_software_hidden_in_your_linux_distribution
http://libresoft.es/Members/herraiz/blog/linux-is-not-free-software
http://manulix.wikidot.com/kernel-blobs
http://groups.fsf.org/wiki/List_of_software_that_does_not_respect_the_Free_System_Distribution_Guidelines

The mainline kernel does not meet the stricter Free System Distribution Guidelines, nor the Debian Free Software Guidelines, or even the promise made in Ubuntu's Philosophy. Even if by default, some non-free software is included or recommended, there should, at the very least, be a reasonably easy way to choose to have a fully free installation. Modifying the existing kernel is another option-- whichever makes more sense as long as a fully free install is, at the very least, possible. Ubuntu even has a free software only option available...which still contains binary blobs!

http://www.gnu.org/distros/free-system-distribution-guidelines.html
http://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines
http://www.ubuntu.com/project/about-ubuntu/our-philosophy

Non-free software has been in the mainline kernel for some time, so until (and if) that is fixed, the Linux-libre kernel has already done the work of maintaining of fully free kernel which is used in a number of free GNU/Linux distros. Linux-libre is a project to maintain and publish 100% Free distributions of Linux, suitable for use in Free System Distributions, removing software that is included without source code, with obfuscated or obscured source code, under non-Free Software licenses, that do not permit you to change the software so that it does what you wish, and that induces or requires you to install additional pieces of non-free software. Ideally, the default kernel should be free, but otherwise a fully free kernel should be supported.

http://www.fsfla.org/svnwiki/selibre/linux-libre/

Javier Jardón (jjardon) on 2009-05-02
tags: added: needs-packaging
Brian Murray (brian-murray) wrote :

*** This is an automated message ***

This bug is tagged needs-packaging which identifies it as a request for a new package in Ubuntu. As a part of the managing needs-packaging bug reports specification, https://wiki.ubuntu.com/QATeam/Specs/NeedsPackagingBugs, all needs-packaging bug reports have Wishlist importance. Subsequently, I'm setting this bug's status to Wishlist.

Changed in ubuntu:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
Vanryu (jpkaniefsky) on 2009-11-01
Changed in ubuntu:
assignee: nobody → Vanryu (jpkaniefsky)
Vanryu (jpkaniefsky) on 2009-11-01
Changed in ubuntu:
status: New → In Progress
Kẏra (kxra) wrote :

It's been a half a year, how are things going?

Roman (thezub) wrote :

I'd also like to know what's going on with this, if anything. It wouldn't be too difficult - take the vanilla linux-libre and apply the Ubuntu-specific patches to them.

Vanryu (jpkaniefsky) wrote :

I'm sorry for not answering sooner but I have been quite busy lately, and I didn't want to say less than I ought to on this matter. When I commenced with the packaging I really thought that this was a must for such a complete distribution as Ubuntu, because then it would also cover the needs of those that are just too pure-minded to use any bit of non-free software, even at firmware level. I also thought that It would be that simple, wich was not, mainly because the Ubuntu-specific patches don't really apply out-of-the-box for anything other than the targeted vanilla linux version, but also because the patches themselves contain non-free blobs and need to be removed, at least in the time that I tried it, by hand. Also, as a result of cleaning the kernel source code of non-free firmware I had to disable a fair number of modules -that were apparently dependent on those to function- from compiling with the kernel. The process of identifying these was not pretty.
But I'm not complaining. I said I would do it and I did it. After a lot of frustrating attempts, I succeeded in the compiling and packaging of a completely free/libre linux kernel for Ubuntu. I messed up a little with the packaging, I'll give them that (It was my first), but what they said when they rejected the package, if I remember correctly, was that there is no need for a different kernel up in the repositories, and If I could really prove that the stock linux kernel contained non-free software. I got a little discouraged after that, but I always said to myself that I would try again once I had the time and the energy to do so, but I'm afraid that won't be happening for at least another couple of weeks, maybe a month. So if any of you feel like you can't wait, by all means, give it a shot.

Roman (thezub) wrote :

They don't need another kernel? Except of course the real-time kernel that Ubuntu Studio uses. I think it's doable, if you look at what what the 100% free software distribution Trisquel GNU/Linux does - it takes the deblobbed kernel and applies Ubuntu-specific changes (ensuring that they themselves are deblobbed) and I think they're doing a terrific job at it, too. Maybe something can be coordinated with them in how best to do this?

Kẏra (kxra) on 2010-07-26
summary: - [needs-packaging] Linux Libre kernel
+ No easy way to have a fully free install
description: updated
Kẏra (kxra) on 2010-07-26
description: updated
Kẏra (kxra) on 2010-07-26
Changed in linux-libre:
assignee: nobody → Linux Libre Packages (linux-libre)
A.K.Karthikeyan (mindaslab) wrote :

Yup, I would like to have 100% free software.

What a fanatism...

Thank you for the extremely helpful comment. Would you mind explaining how
this bug report is expresses excessive intolerance of opposing views simply
for requesting that the Linux-Libre kernel be packaged and available? Do you
think this would hurt Ubuntu? It sounds like excluding a completely free
packaged based on your prejudices towards free software advocates is
fantism, but perhaps not, please explain.

2010/8/6 Дмитрий "Divius" Танцур <email address hidden>

> What a fanatism...
>
> --
> No easy way to have a fully free install
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/370675
> You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
> of the bug.
>

--
.danny

☮♥Ⓐ - http://www.google.com/profiles/danny.piccirillo
Every (in)decision matters.

I also think packaging linux-libre kernel would be good idea. There is no any problems for all curent Ubuntu users, but big goal for peoples who like Ubuntu and freedom.

cnom (cnom) wrote :

It's not only about freedom. Every single binary blob is a security risk.

Kẏra (kxra) on 2010-08-07
Changed in debian:
importance: Undecided → Unknown
status: New → Unknown
Kẏra (kxra) wrote :

Yes, though the control and security are results of freedom. The four
freedoms require transparency which means the software can be trusted.
Freedom is practical. Weird, huh? =]

2010/8/6 Conrad N. <email address hidden>:
> It's not only about freedom. Every single binary blob is a security
> risk.
>
> --
> No easy way to have a fully free install
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/370675
> You received this bug notification because you are a direct subscriber
> of the bug.
>

--
.danny

☮♥Ⓐ - http://www.google.com/profiles/danny.piccirillo
Every (in)decision matters.

Changed in debian:
status: Unknown → New
Volodya (volodya) wrote :

Linux-Libre kernel installed here, runs with no problems (apart from a couple of warning at the beginning of the startup).

To do this, add the following line to your sources (Synaptic -> Settings -> Repositories -> Other software -> Add)
deb http://linux-libre.fsfla.org/pub/linux-libre/planet planet main

Press reload:
Sections -> Kernel and modules

Select:
linux-image-XXXXX-libre-planet
where XXXX is the latest version you see there (currently there is no metapackage which installs the latest version automatically).

Search:
linux-image

Unselect:
linux-image-generic (confirm that you want to uninstall linux-generic)
linux-image
- Note - This will *not* uninstall currently installed non-free kernel, it will simply stop it from updating to newer versions. If for some reason linux-libre will not work for you, you can go back and start with the already installed non-free version and reinstall the metapackages.

tags: added: blob

FYI, nowadays Debian's kernel is already free ( http://www.debian.org/News/2010/20101215 ), so there's no need to have a different package (linux-image-libre) and work is simpler... as soon as Ubuntu's kernel team decides to have this goal, like Debian, to have a 100% free kernel package, so users can decide if they want to install the extra non-free packages or not.

Kẏra (kxra) wrote :

Using the Linux-libre package makes a fully-free install easier, not just an install disk that doest have non-free blobs but will fetch them at install

Kẏra (kxra) on 2012-05-01
Changed in fedora:
importance: Undecided → Unknown
status: New → Unknown
DNS (dns) on 2012-11-10
Changed in linux-libre:
status: New → In Progress
importance: Undecided → Critical
Jason (jxself) on 2012-11-10
Changed in ubuntu:
assignee: Vanryu (jpkaniefsky) → Linux Libre Packages (linux-libre)
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