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Distro comparisons -- added "free software" column

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michuk's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-20

I added a new column in the distro comparisons: Software freedom status. It states whether a distro is free as in freedom, partly free or proprietary.

Also, I added random screenshots on the comparison screens.

Hope you like the changes. If you have any more ideas what should be included in the comparison table, please share it here. I still feel that the table is incomplete, but on the other hand I don't want it to be bloated (that's why I removed the "ISDN support" column some time ago since noone really uses ISDN anymore).

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I welcome these changes,

I welcome these changes, though I am not sure what represent a software freedom status. Is it the "support for restricted formats"? Maybe I'm just blind. Sticking out tongue

I also agree about removing ISDN. With DSL, it is pretty much becoming irrelevant. It was just a stepping stone between dial up and DSL (and other true broadbands).

Edit: Also forgot to mention that you mention this for Debian while I'm not sure it is correct:

Quote:

Debian is a free-software-only distribution. No non-free packages can be put into the official repositories due to the Debian Policy.

There actually is a non-free repository set up by Debian project as far as I am aware, which I think makes it official. Anyone correct me if I'm wrong.

michuk's picture
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Software freedom status
libervisco wrote:

I welcome these changes, though I am not sure what represent a software freedom status. Is it the "support for restricted formats"? Maybe I'm just blind. Sticking out tongue

It's called Software freedom status (third column after te picture). It might have got cached in some cases, then just add some stupid param to the URL like "&stupidParam=nothing" and you will see an un-cached version Smiling

Also note that some of the descriptions may be still invalid since I didn't have time to fully investigate all distros. *BSDs, Debian and Fedora were granted "free as in freedom", others as "mostly free but contain some proprietary drivers" and Xandros has been marked as "proprietary" (althought it obviously contains lots of GNU apps as well, but we need some distinction, I believe. Of course if you have better suggestions for those descriptions, just present them here.

michuk's picture
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Debian: free or not free
libervisco wrote:

There actually is a non-free repository set up by Debian project as far as I am aware, which I think makes it official. Anyone correct me if I'm wrong.

This is what I read on the official website: http://www.debian.org/intro/free : "The Debian project is a strong supporter of free software. Since many different licenses are used on software, a set of guidelines, the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) were developed to come up with a reasonable definition of what constitutes free software. Only software that complies with the DFSG is allowed in the main distribution of Debian."

Also, here http://www.debian.org/social_contract we read: "Debian will remain 100% free

We provide the guidelines that we use to determine if a work is "free" in the document entitled "The Debian Free Software Guidelines". We promise that the Debian system and all its components will be free according to these guidelines. We will support people who create or use both free and non-free works on Debian. We will never make the system require the use of a non-free component."

I also don't think there are any non-free (which I mean proprietary software, not non-free in Debian meaning) software on any of the Debian servers. Anyone has any information on this subject?

libervisco's picture
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I added the param you

I added the param you suggested and got the new version, seen the "software freedom status" now. Smiling

I think your labels are good although maybe the "proprietary" could be changed into "mostly proprietary" just to differentiate from things like Windows, though this is not a strong suggestion. Smiling

About debian, this is just something I keep hearing (especially from FSF/GNU people), that Debian does host a non-free repository even if it is not enabled by default in apt sources.list configuration. This is exactly why FSF didn't show its endorsement for Debian for all this time.

Fedora apparently has a different reason, as I hear, that the terms they use suggest that they align more with the loose open source movement than Free Software movement (hence promoting less freedom and more convenience), which is why it still isn't endorsed and listed as free by FSF.

But from what I hear by a Fedora guy on the gNewSense mailing list, in practice, Fedora does stick to only Free Software (at least as of FC6). All packages included are Free Software and no official repository includes proprietary software. You have to add third party repos if you want that.

free-zombie's picture
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Exactly, debian has a

Exactly, debian has a non-free repository which includes things like proprietary drivers or pov-ray, and a contrib repository for packages which in themselves are DFSG-free, but depend on something in non-free or outside debian. Debian's main archive is the only one enabled by default, and it is completely DFSG-free and completely self-contained.

michuk's picture
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Debian info updated
free-zombie wrote:

Exactly, debian has a non-free repository which includes things like proprietary drivers or pov-ray, and a contrib repository for packages which in themselves are DFSG-free, but depend on something in non-free or outside debian. Debian's main archive is the only one enabled by default, and it is completely DFSG-free and completely self-contained.

Thanks free-zombie, I added your comment to the description of Debian's "software freedom status" in the comparison table.
If such uncertainties exist in other distros as well, please let me know and I will correct other distros's descriptions, too.

guyjohnston's picture
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Joined: 2007-03-05
Fedora isn't free as in freedom

I don't agree with the recommendation of Fedora being "free as in freedom". That's because it has a policy of being "open source" rather than free software. As the open source definition is different, and not all software which complies with it is free software, that doesn't mean that everything which Fedora contains is free software, even when it sticks to the official policy. I've also read that some of the software installed by default doesn't even fit the open source definition. However, I've also read that they might be changing their policy in the future to only allow software which fits the free software definition.

guyjohnston's picture
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Any thoughts

Does anyone have any thoughts on my comment?

michuk's picture
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Fedora free/open?
guyjohnston wrote:

Does anyone have any thoughts on my comment?

guyjohnston: this is correct but on the other hand, all the software in main Fedora repos is free software as FSF sees it (no non-free drivers and software whatsoever) so I think we can stay with "free as in freedom" status. If you find a package that is not free then let us know of course and we'll deal with it.

guyjohnston's picture
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Firmware?

OK fair enough. What's meant by the main repositories? Does that mean what's installed by default? Also, is there no binary-only firmware in the kernel, in the main repositories?

michuk's picture
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free/non-free
guyjohnston wrote:

OK fair enough. What's meant by the main repositories? Does that mean what's installed by default? Also, is there no binary-only firmware in the kernel, in the main repositories?

Distro is considered free if there is free software only in all supported repositories. In case of Fedora -- the Core and Extras repositories, including both drivers, kernel modules and programs.

I'm not 100% sure if it's true for Fedora -- if not then it needs to be explained in the "Free software" column.

free-zombie's picture
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Fedora is not 100% free.

Fedora is not 100% free. Maybe a_thing knows more, but I am sure that Fedora includes the official Firefox logo, which is proprietary software.

michuk's picture
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logo is not software
free-zombie wrote:

I am sure that Fedora includes the official Firefox logo, which is proprietary software.

I don't think logo can be considered "software". Debian logo is also restricted. Does this make Debian proprietary? It's a completely different matter to "free software" as I understand it. Protecting the logo and other symbols (like restricting the use of the distro name) is acceptable since this protects the logo from being used in unwanted situations (i.e. some company promoting proprietary software could use it for promoting their product).

free-zombie's picture
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The Debian open logo may be

The Debian open logo may be modified, the firefox logo not. This is the reason for the omission of the logo in Debian, which, due to the disconnected use of the trademarked name resulted in IceWeasel.

guyjohnston's picture
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Firefox logo

As far as I know the main problem with the Firefox logo is that you can't distribute it with a modified version of Firefox. I think they only let people use it with their official binaries.

free-zombie's picture
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guyjohnston wrote:As far
guyjohnston wrote:

As far as I know the main problem with the Firefox logo is that you can't distribute it with a modified version of Firefox. I think they only let people use it with their official binaries.

In principle, that is true, but they do make exceptions. Please have a look at the relevant bug report.

"Steve Langasek (Debian)" wrote:

The trademark policy for firefox marks has been discussed repeatedly in the
Debian community, and it is my understanding that the Mozilla Foundation
*has* extended a trademark license to Debian so long as changes we make to
the software remain within certain reasonable limits.

"Eric Dorland (Debian)" wrote:

I had to break the switch, because I need to call it Firefox, but I
can't include the official graphics.

> Why can't you just use the official branding switch, anyway?

Because it uses graphics which have a non-free copyright license.

"Mike Connor (Mozilla Corp.)" wrote:

I've confirmed that this isn't acceptable usage of the trademark. If
you are going to use the Firefox name, you must also use the rest of the
branding.

Fedora doesn't ship a perfectly vanilla Firefox AFAIK.

dylunio's picture
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IIRC Fedora...
free-zombie wrote:

Fedora doesn't ship a perfectly vanilla Firefox AFAIK.

IIRC Fedora have to pass their changes with Mozilla before using the FF logo. The FSF listed distro BLAG (which is based on FC6) ships with FF 1.5 under the name 'Deer Park', but it comes with the FF logo.

free-zombie's picture
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dylunio wrote: under the
dylunio wrote:

under the name 'Deer Park', but it comes with the FF logo.

That can't be acceptable use of the trade mark. Are you sure it doesn't use the unbranded foxless Deer Park globe ?

dylunio's picture
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Nope it has the fox on it,

Nope it has the fox on it, but this is only the logo in the bar at the bottom, not at Help -> About.

I've uploaded a screenshot of how this looks: ScreenShot

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Joined: 2006-03-28
It also comes as Deer Park

It also comes as Deer Park (Bon Echo for Firefox 2) when you install it from source.
I'll check when I come home if it has the fox on it.

Edit: Just checked. My Firefox (as said, installed from source) as called Bon Echo. The about-page has no fox and the taskbar just has the X-logo.

Still surprising since it's the official code from mozilla.org, unmodified.
Maybe because it's the source and therefor easy to modify.

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