Is Ubuntu commited to free software?

Remco remco47 at
Thu Jun 10 16:13:29 UTC 2010

On Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 17:46, Scott Kitterman <ubuntu at> wrote:
> "Remco" <remco47 at> wrote:
>>On Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 16:51, Scott Kitterman <ubuntu at> wrote:
>>> "Remco" <remco47 at> wrote:
>>>>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.
>>That's not true. Binary blobs aren't just "code without comments".
>>They are obfuscated machine code, not in the preferred form for
>>modification, and that's explicitly prohibited by the GPL
>>I believe you're right that the problem (if it exists), is not with
>>*that* file. But that doesn't make the problem go away, of course; it
>>just moves it.
> Certainly,  but the point is the so called free kernel does more than just remove code that is arguably non-free. It also changes Free code to take away user's choice to use such blobs if they choose to.

Meh, you can still use the original kernel if you want to. It's
(mostly) free software after all. ;)

> That's a political change that reduces user's freedom to use the system the way they want to. It's fine, IMO, for such a political kernel to exist,  but it's fundamentally in conflict with the values of Ubuntu and not appropriate for our archive.

Oh, but politics is always part of open source! There is no other
reason for the "Use only free software" option on the cd installer.
Whether or not this "free kernel" is needed, I don't know. If the "use
only free software" option also gets rid of all blobs in the kernel,
then I don't see the need.


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