Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev

From: Vincent Launchbury <vincent@×××××××××××××××.com>
To: gentoo-dev@l.g.o
Subject: [gentoo-dev] Non-free software in Gentoo
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 2009 06:15:22
1 Hi,
3 I recently emailed the Gentoo PR team, voicing my concerns about the
4 amount of non-free software within Gentoo. I got an interesting response
5 from Sebastian Pipping, who said that while Gentoo is all about choice,
6 including the choice to install non-free software, the project is
7 interested in making it easy for people to run a 100% free system,
8 should they choose that path.
10 I found out about the license filtering feature in the dev version of
11 portage, and used it to remove all the non-free software from my
12 system. However, it wasn't a perfect experience. Based on what Sebastian
13 had to say, and my own experience using it, I have a few suggestions.
15 1) Not all of the licenses are completely accurate. For example, the
16 Linux kernels are listed as soley GPL-2, yet they contain blobs of
17 non-free firmware. Perhaps a general-purpose "not-free" license could be
18 appended to such packages. This would only affect people who choose to
19 use the feature. It could be minused from the FSF-APPROVED group for
20 example.
22 Also relating to this, what is freedist? The package app-text/dos2unix
23 lists 'freedist' as its license, and /usr/portage/licenses/freedist says
24 only "Freely Distributable". Several other packages do this, and I'm
25 sure it's not correct. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the dos2unix
26 package is from, which clearly
27 says its GPLv2. Packages like this could be looked into and fixed.
29 2) There are no free versions of the kernel in the main tree. The Latin
30 American FSF maintains blob-free kernels at
31 They could
32 be added alongside the official vanilla ebuilds.
34 3) Some free software packages bring in non-free optional dependencies
35 by default. For example, media-gfx/imagemagick brings in
36 media-fonts/corefonts. As suggested by Sebastian, a free profile could be
37 created, that changes these defaults, to reduce the hassle of
38 maintaining a free system. Again, this would only affect users who
39 choose to use that profile.
41 4) Using something like ACCEPT_LICENSES="-* @FSF-APPROVED" is a good
42 start, but its quite a hassle to keep checking all the licenses. One
43 annoyance is packages like sys-devel/gcc. gcc has the libgcc license,
44 which is just GPLv2+, with some extra permissions granted. Although it's
45 important to make such a distinction, these extra freedoms are
46 irrelevant to license filtering.
48 I suppose the only feasible way to fix this would be to expand the
49 license groups in /usr/portage/profiles/license_groups. Would it cause
50 any problems if they were quite large?
52 Another option might be to introduce an optional IS_FREE="yes/no" option
53 to the ebuild files, which could override the other license settings.
55 5) Documentation on how to set up and maintain a fully free system could
56 be added.
59 To summarize, my general idea is to fix some licensing issues, introduce
60 the libre kernels and have a 100% free profile that would create the
61 least possible amount of hassle for anyone using it. This in turn would
62 make Gentoo more accessible to the free software community, without
63 affecting people that don't use the profile.
65 This is my first post here, so I apologize if it's misdirected. I'm not
66 sure if I'd really be able to help much on the technical side, but if
67 this garners any cooperation, I'll gladly help out with anything I can.
68 If someone could point me in the right direction, I'd be very grateful.
70 Kind Regards,
71 Vincent Launchbury.


Subject Author
Re: [gentoo-dev] Non-free software in Gentoo "Rémi Cardona" <remi@g.o>
Re: [gentoo-dev] Non-free software in Gentoo Jeroen Roovers <jer@g.o>
Re: [gentoo-dev] Non-free software in Gentoo Jeremy Olexa <darkside@g.o>
Re: [gentoo-dev] Non-free software in Gentoo "Robin H. Johnson" <robbat2@g.o>
Re: [gentoo-dev] Non-free software in Gentoo Greg KH <gregkh@g.o>