Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

GNU/Linux and freedom: non-free software hidden in your GNU/Linux distribution

Filed under
Software

Most people with an interest in software freedom will turn to GNU/Linux as their operating system of choice. Few realize however, that the vast majority of GNU/Linux distros are not entirely free. Imagine migrating away from Windows, only to find that by installing GNU/Linux you are accepting a restrictive Microsoft license!

Many distros promote the use of proprietary software, knowingly show incorrect licenses, and attempt to hide the problem under the guise of an ‘option of freedom’. When the majority of developers of a collection of software don’t care about freedom, neither will their users. Non-free distros make almost no attempts to inform their userbases of the importance of freedom, even though they wouldn’t exist without it. I will discuss how the option of freedom is an unacceptable solution, and propose some real fixes.

The problem

I’ve been using GNU/Linux for over 5 years, but I’ve only recently discovered just how much non-free software my distro contains. I decided to search through my system and remove everything that was non-free, and there was quite a lot that I removed.

rest here




I do not agree! I use Linux

I do not agree!

I use Linux since a decade now, and I can say that there is no way to use only open-source applications. Well ... you may be able to leave with strictly open-source Linux distribution, but you will not be able to enjoy such a one.

I can't contest, that in some cases, there are perfectly good open-source alternatives, but unfortunately in other cases you are totally dependent on closed-source but free to use/redistribute applications or code.

As for Mandriva highlighting PowerPack and ONE instead of FREE, excuse me, but if you were a company living on the money payed by your customers, wouldn't you promote the payed stuff first and let the free one at the end? It's a little bit confusing, but it's logical. In order to have a Mandriva FREE version, they have to invest man power which comes with a price which has to be payed by the ones who buy the commercial version. I'm OK with this.

Now, let's get back to closed-source programs & code. As long as hardware vendors will not offer their specifications publicly, closed-source drivers will be needed. And I can't see any opennes coming soon at this front. Hardware vendors want to protect their values, the secrets of their hardware. That's why they prefer to write tonnes of drivers for different operating systems instead of just publishing some specifications. That's how business is, and as long as you will have to pay for your hardware, most of it will be closed for some degree.

Conclusion: Even if I don't like this situation, I consider that it has nothing to do with promoting open-source. This is the way the IT industry lives, and you can't escape everything ... except if you invent and build your own computer and OS ... good luck.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13 Is the First Laptop Preloaded with openSUSE Leap 15

The OpenSuSE Project announced today that openSUSE Leap 15 is available for download as 64-bit installation images, which users would need to write on USB flash drives or DVDs to install the operating system on their personal computers. However, the openSUSE Leap 15 operating system also comes preloaded with the TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13 laptop we reviewed last year and Linode cloud images. "Today’s public release of Leap 15 aren’t only released as DVD and Network ISO: Linode and hardware vendor TUXEDO Computers have cloud images through of Leap ready, too. While the brand new TUXEDO InfinityBook Pro 13 is immediately available with Leap 15 preinstalled and ready-to-run, Linode has Leap available for all infrastructure needs," said openSUSE Project's Douglas DeMaio in today's announcement. Read more

Android Leftovers

Thunderbolt Networking Now Supported in Linux's NetworkManager Tool

Implemented by Intel developer Mika Westerberg last year during the development of the Linux 4.15 kernel series, Thunderbolt networking arrived for Linux-based operating systems to enable peer-to-peer (P2P) network connections where you connect two computers directly via a certified Thunderbolt cable to transfer files. But while the implementation was there in the Linux kernel, the userspace bits were missing to make Thunderbolt networking work on a standard installation of a GNU/Linux distribution. By adding a new udev rule in the NetworkManager the two developers managed to load the thunderbolt-net kernel module. Read more

Based on Enterprise Code, Tested Millions of Times: openSUSE Leap 15 released

Today’s major release of openSUSE Leap 15 is offering professional users, entrepreneurs and ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) a new, fresh and hardened code base for their workloads that supports modern hardware, based on a stable, community- and enterprise-based open-source GNU/Linux distribution – but developed with a modern, more secure, better tested and much more open open-source build system unique to SUSE and openSUSE. Read more Also: openSUSE Leap 15 Officially Released, Based on SUSE Enterprise Linux 15 OpenSUSE Leap 15 Released, Based On SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 OpenSUSE Conference 2018 Kicks Off In Prague, Video Streams Available