Is Ubuntu commited to free software?

Scott Kitterman ubuntu at
Thu Jun 10 14:51:12 UTC 2010

"Remco" <remco47 at> wrote:

>On Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 05:56, Scott Kitterman <ubuntu at> wrote:
>> "Danny Piccirillo" <danny.piccirillo at> wrote:
>>>On Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 16:37, David Schlesinger <lefty at access-
>>>> On 6/9/10 1:21 PM, "Danny Piccirillo" <danny.piccirillo at> wrote:
>>>> >
>>>> > Upstream linux is not free. That is why LinuxLibre was created.
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > I have doubts that this was unintentional. Here's a list of nonfree stuff
>>>> in
>>>> > Linux:
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> Danny, if you or anyone else has an issue with the governance of the kernel
>>>> project, attempting to address it via an end-run through a "litmus test" of
>>>> Ubuntu's support for "software freedom" seems a rather passive-aggressive
>>>> way to go about it. I don't see much productive coming out of this
>>>> discussion.
>>>> If you're not happy with the way the kernel project is being run, I suggest
>>>> you'd do better to go talk to Linus and Andrew Morton about it.
>>>> If Ubuntu's governance is not to your liking, there are plenty of other
>>>> distros. If none of those is to your liking, you can roll your own.
>>>The fact is that Linux is not entirely free, and there is a project which is
>>>the Linux kernel without the nonfree bits. Talking about linux governance is
>>>out of the scope of this discussion. Ubuntu's philosophy says it is free,
>>>but even the free software only option has nonfree bits. Why shouldn't i
>>>expect the mere option to have a fully free system using Ubuntu?
>> Non-free software in Main is a bug.  So fix the bug. Your would appear to
>> confirm the that criteria for "non-free" on that list includes things that are
>> free, but can be used to load non-free firmware, so the list doesn't impress
>> me.  Since iwl 4965 is on your list and that's what one of my laptops runs, I
>> decided to have a look at drivers/net/wireless/iwlwifi/iwl-4965.c.
>> /******************************************************************************
>>  *
>>  * Copyright(c) 2003 - 2009 Intel Corporation. All rights reserved.
>>  *
>>  * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
>>  * under the terms of version 2 of the GNU General Public License as
>>  * published by the Free Software Foundation.
>>  *
>>  * This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT
>>  * ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or
>>  * FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the GNU General Public License for
>>  * more details.
>>  *
>>  * You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along
>> with
>>  * this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc.,
>>  * 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110, USA
>>  *
>>  * The full GNU General Public License is included in this distribution in the
>>  * file called LICENSE.
>>  *
>>  * Contact Information:
>>  *  Intel Linux Wireless <ilw at>
>>  * Intel Corporation, 5200 N.E. Elam Young Parkway, Hillsboro, OR 97124-6497
>>  *
>>  *****************************************************************************/
>> License seems OK.
>> I read through the code and it appears to load some microcode, but I didn't
>> see anything in the source that looked like anything other than the preferred
>> form of modification.  I'm not a kernel hacker so I might have miss understood
>> what I was looking at.  Also that list mentions version 2.6.30 and I used the
>> current Ubuntu 2.6.32 source for Lucid and it may have changed.
>> So I'm curious what's non-free in that file to get it on the list?
>> Scott K
>Is that loaded microcode generated by the kernel, or is it an unknown
>magic blob of bytes? I know that the kernel developers hate such blobs
>for practical reasons, and I also don't believe that it would
>constitute free software. The nouveau blob was quickly made obsolete
>by reverse engineering it. Now the developers know exactly how it
>works, and are able to fix bugs. The kernel generates the firmware on
>the fly and then sends it to the GPU. This should be the case for all
>microcode, before Linux can be considered entirely free and
You miss my point. At least AFAICT the microcode isn't in that file,  so the freeness of the microcode is unrelated to the freeness of that file. In any case, even if it's there,  the entire file is GPL v2, so it's Free. Nothing in the GPL requires code comments. 

Scott K

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