Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Dec 2006 22:28 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source "Recently there has been a lot of discussion bubbling up regarding the possibility that Ubuntu will ship proprietary 3D drivers by default for some video cards. My aim here is not to discuss the specifics of that decision, which is still being fleshed out and ratified, but to instead define my views on the bigger picture behind the discussion - features vs. freedom."
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Freedom?
by vtolkov on Mon 18th Dec 2006 23:50 UTC
vtolkov
Member since:
2006-07-26

We all know about Gates's "My Computer". But Linux guys are offering us "Their OS". Gates says "you do not have rights to copy my blowware", these guys say "you definitely can copy our crap, but you do not have rights to use their driver". Can you spot a difference? The difference is that Linux's guys love to talk about freedom. If about my freedom, I do not think someone should be able to limit me in what I'm doing with the product I legally own. So if I want to use driver with blob, I should be able to do that. And if someone saying that I do not have rights to do that, this only means that all these talks about freedom is nothing more than dirty commercial.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Freedom?
by AlexandreAM on Tue 19th Dec 2006 00:12 in reply to "Freedom?"
AlexandreAM Member since:
2006-02-06

"If about my freedom, I do not think someone should be able to limit me in what I'm doing with the product I legally own."

I truly agree with you. And I am one of the guys that tend to believe that features are more important than GNU-like Freedom (in the sense that, when I can't find the features I want in Free Software, I'll use a proprietary with no problem).

But then, something begs to be said:

They (distros) DON'T "legally own" the software UNLESS they agree with those rules. Some software one only legally owns when one agrees to pay money. Other software imposes a "code of conduct" to be "legally owned".

So, as much as I like the idea of having a free (libre) and free (gratis) software that does everything I need, if the distro don't agree with the guys that are offering this software are asking them, they can't use it as basis for creating this modified (or bundled) software.

If one violates the GPL to distribute "better" software, they're still breaking copyright laws.

Now, I'm not saying that graphic drivers violate GPL or anything like that. I am no lawyer and have neither the skill in laws nor the knowledge about the drivers to say anything about them (or any other software for that matter).

I heard something about if the users make the decision to use the proprietary software then there is no problem, and it does make sense in my head (although I might be wrong). But there is NO WAY a distro can do the same, because they're bound by the GPL (which specifically talks about redistribution of software) and get a way with it.

We all love the features. But I, as a full-time programming-for-my-food employee and as a part-time programming-for-my-fun FOSS enthusiast, can't accept that a distribution should be able to use the work of others to their own (or to their use base, it doesn't matter) good. They simply have NO RIGHT.

This post is too long, I should stop now.

Regards,
Alexandre Moreira.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Freedom?
by StephenBeDoper on Tue 19th Dec 2006 21:21 in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

We all love the features. But I, as a full-time programming-for-my-food employee and as a part-time programming-for-my-fun FOSS enthusiast, can't accept that a distribution should be able to use the work of others to their own (or to their use base, it doesn't matter) good. They simply have NO RIGHT.

Um... isn't that pretty much the fundamental concept behind a Linux distro?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Freedom?
by pedromatiello on Tue 19th Dec 2006 01:40 in reply to "Freedom?"
pedromatiello Member since:
2005-07-13

You can use proprietary drivers with Linux. __Distribution__ of proprietary drivers __with__ the Linux kernel, on the other hand, is gray area, probably illegal.

See? You can use proprietary drivers with both and, while you can distribute Linux, you can't distribute Windows.

GPL is a copyright license. It talks about distribution, not use.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Freedom?
by arielb on Tue 19th Dec 2006 01:56 in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
arielb Member since:
2006-11-15

The problem is you won't get mass adoption of linux if you can't give linux a good first impression. Back to Windows!

The other problem that I don't think was addressed is that you are basically telling them "what you get with our linux are our open source drivers and they suck-so now go out and get closed source drivers. They will make linux good."

The lesson learned will be "Closed source is good." Not distributing closed drivers calls attention to the weakness, makes it loud and clear and doesn't really help the rest of the open source community

Reply Parent Score: 3

Copyleft
by mcmv200i on Tue 19th Dec 2006 20:09 in reply to "RE: Freedom?"
mcmv200i Member since:
2006-12-14

You can use proprietary drivers with Linux. __Distribution__ of proprietary drivers __with__ the Linux kernel, on the other hand, is gray area, probably illegal.

This is a somewhat very gray area:

The question is whether you consider "driver + kernel" to be one whole product or whether you think the kernel and the drivers are distinct products.

If the first case is true, this would be a matter of "copylefted" vs. "non-copylefted software" (http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/copyleft.html) but not of FLOSS vs. closed source software. Because a copylefted license like the GPL permits it to distribute a derative work of the piece of software it licenses, but only if the whole derative software is free software again. A derative work of a non-copylefted software like a BSD-licensed software can be released under any licence, also a propriatory one.

If the second case is be true, the linux kernel would be at least no open source software (I dont know how this applies to free software), if it would not be allowed to distribute the open source Linux kernel with a closed source driver.

9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software:

The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.


see: http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Freedom?
by ma_d on Tue 19th Dec 2006 02:49 in reply to "Freedom?"
ma_d Member since:
2005-06-29

What? I do believe they said "you can use our crap, and we'll help you, but we won't help you use their crap with our crap."

Way to distort the "opposing side" into a radical position which you can easily show to be wrong. AKA: Putting words in their mouth. AKA: Strawman.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Freedom?
by jerutley on Tue 19th Dec 2006 05:52 in reply to "Freedom?"
jerutley Member since:
2006-08-17

Quote: vtolkov

If about my freedom, I do not think someone should be able to limit me in what I'm doing with the product I legally own.

Response:

NOONE is limiting your freedom to do what you want. Nowhere does it say that you CAN NOT use a driver with a blob. The only possible restriction is that you *MAY* not be able to redistribute the result. Remember the GPL license covering the Linux kernel is a copyright license, which by definition can only restrict distribution. You are free to do with it whatever you want on your own computer - but you may not be able to give the result to others.

But, those "binary blob" drivers are not "Free Software" nor "Open Source". You do not have the freedom to modify them to suit your purpose, and you are not provided with the source.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Freedom?
by Ford Prefect on Tue 19th Dec 2006 11:48 in reply to "Freedom?"
Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

Nobody, literally nobody says you aren't allowed to use your driver.

There are only people who say, if you want to do so, you have to fetch it yourself.


And I would like to know who the "linux guys" are, some friends of yours?

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Freedom?
by angryrobot on Tue 19th Dec 2006 13:36 in reply to "Freedom?"
angryrobot Member since:
2006-04-26

You absolutely can use a driver with a blob. There is nothing stopping you from doing that. What they want to do is make it so you can't *distribute* the kernel with non-free drivers.

So really, what you have here is people (the Linux devs) trying to enforce their copyright by having the drivers which arguably violate their license removed from the distributions.

They are in no way violating "your freedom". They are trying to make it so you don't lose it.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Freedom?
by mcmv200i on Tue 19th Dec 2006 19:46 in reply to "Freedom?"
mcmv200i Member since:
2006-12-14

"you definitely can copy our crap, but you do not have rights to use their driver"

Absolutely not true. You must not restrict how free software should be used --- otherwise it is no free software.

In the case of free software:

Freedom 0 of the 4 freedoms of software: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
see: http://www.fsf.org/licensing/essays/free-sw.html

In the case of open source:

6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
see: http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

Reply Parent Score: 1