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Assimilation to Ubuntu and Chrome OS is a Step Away From Software Freedom

Video download link | md5sum a2345451b594442f092bdf3b48a76b63 Freedom or Firmware Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0



Summary: The emphasis on software freedom (or Software Freedom) inside Debian has been lessened a bit; while this can make Debian easier to install in the 'Wi-Fi era' this might signal the shift towards Ubuntu-like Debian, i.e. a distro without principles

THE recent vote on firmware in Debian has been mentioned here in many batches of Daily Links (since more than a month ago) and even in IRC. It's a question of freedom versus convenience and vice versa.



"Debian is the "base" (like template) for most GNU/Linux distros, so the decision to include firmware blobs on the media is kind of a big deal."The video above is spontaneous commentary on coverage we've found since the results were revealed this past weekend. In the video I discuss my experiences adding the firmware (usually required for networking) and why for most people who choose Debian it should not be too shocking having to add a file from USB (or similar media; I've done this for over a decade). The impact on software freedom is perhaps minimal as many people choose Debian derivatives (like Ubuntu), but it's a matter of principles. With Debian quickly becoming widespread (not just on desktops but devices and servers) we can expect many compromises and promotion of convenience by people who simply don't grasp software freedom and probably underestimate the threats posed to security, at hardware, hardware-software interfaces, and software. Sure, software freedom (or Software Freedom capitalised, as if to denote or coin a concept) is not enough. Even the FSF and its founder Richard Stallman admit that. In the case of firmware, no hardware modification is required, however, so why not insist on full disclosure and transparency?

Debian is the "base" (like template) for most GNU/Linux distros, so the decision to include firmware blobs on the media is kind of a big deal. Having said that, many of the derivatives already add those blobs regardless. So have we lost so much? Are we worse off to the point of desperation? I'm personally a lot more concerned about Debian's bad treatment of some high-calibre volunteers and censorship of their blogs (IBM did the same). Freedom of speech is very important. Without it, software freedom will be harder to attain.

One associate of ours said that "more important even than the bad treatment of volunteers is the lack of commitment to freedom. If derivatives want to modify the base, including by adding proprietary crap, then that's on them. the upstream should strive to stay clean. However, the bad treatment of the volunteers might demonstrate a pattern matching that lack of commitment to software freedom."

A few minutes ago in IRC FigOSDev called it "debibm: the universal sellout".

To quote what Richard Stallman told me in person: "If you want to reach a goal that requires a long journey the crucial point is to remember the goal. If you forget the goal, you won’t get there."

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