GNU/Linux, FreeBSD (and other BSD) and Free Software. Your thoughts?

kuroneko

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So I've been using FreeBSD in the past and didn't have much time to play with it to understand everything. At that time I had no idea what libre(free) software was and now that I looked into it I agree with the idea that we should all have the freedom to run the software for any purpose, study it, make copies and sharing with others.

I really like the idea of knowing what you're running on your computer and learn how it works, that's pretty much what got me interested in computers in the first place. We can also create a dependence to some nonfree software. Social medias are a good example as we need it to contact important people. Also when you run nonfree software you don't exactly know what it's doing so it could be running malicious code without you knowing.I'm seeing more free software these days and that's great.

So yeah the reason I've included GNU/Linux and FreeBSD (and other BSD) in the title is that there are many GNU/Linux distributions that are running on nonfree software or recommending it to their users. Many GNU/Linux distro contain blobs along with FreeBSD and the others. I think this is why the Free Software Foundation don't recommend FreeBSD. I really like the FreeBSD operating system the way it works but for that reason I'd probably lean more towards a more free operating system and GNU/Linux have many of them.

So what are your thought on free software, are you okay with have blobs if it's for the convenience of having better driver support? Also I accept everyone's opinion on that, I don't mean to start some debates.
 

rigoletto@

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The FSF don't recommend FreeBSD because permissive licenses (BSD/MIT and similar) it does not comply with the GPL political view. It has not to do with free software. Those called permissive licenses are close to public domain, while GPL and derivatives are about to impose and lock (the code) under their political view of what free software IS.

You should read the licenses to understand it better.

I am actually working on an anti-GPL license, to lock them out. Thread 66640
 
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kuroneko

kuroneko

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Yeah it's true that they're under different licenses. While I agree that free software is a good thing I also think you should be free to choose what you wanna make but in the end it's the user who will have to deal with it. If you make the source code closed and only give binaries then if there is something wrong the user will depend on the developer to have their software working so they can have control over the users and this is the part I mostly dislike it's having to depend on the developers. While when I can edit the source code I can solve problems and then share it. When it's closed then it become all about money.
 
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Deleted member 48958

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IMO, if it is Free software, there is no difference what kind
of free license it uses, until you'll need to sell it in binary forms :D
I believe any kind of blind fanaticism is ignorant, no matter what it is
about: religion, politics... or licenses :D Free license differences
are for developers, but not for users.
 
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kuroneko

kuroneko

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It's true most users won't need to play with the code and all but they could always get someone to help. I also didn't say GNU/Linux was about the money. I was talking about the software. The whole operating system is mostly free (as in freedom). I also personally really like to study how a program was made to then learn from it and there isn't any way to do that with closed source proprietary software as far as I'm aware of. It also happened many time that backdoors were found in nonfree software Windows is a great example. Maybe I'm a little too paranoid also I just know it already happened many times and that could cause some security and privacy issues. RedHat also has a good way to earn money by providing support which I have nothing against.
 

rigoletto@

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Just for the record there is nothing holding you to release (your) proprietary code with the source code attached to it. This is just not a practice anymore, and IIRC Microsoft was the one who innovated on this, just releasing the binaries.
 

Chris_H

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So what are your thought on free software, are you okay with have blobs if it's for the convenience of having better driver support? Also I accept everyone's opinion on that, I don't mean to start some debates.
FreeBSD developers go to great lengths to eliminate the blobs that some software (mostly proprietary hardware drivers) manufacturers distribute.
As to freedom. I think it's safe to say that the MIT/BSD license provides greater freedom, in the sense of freedom, than the *GPL* counterpart. It is because of that freedom that Apple/MacOS (X) was born, and a lot of great free software, and technology came out of all that.

This only scratches the surface. But seems a couple of good examples. :)

--Chris
 

cynwulf

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The FSF/GNU/Stallman term "blob" is a term born out of that particular ideology/politics.

A "blob" is in fact something like the Nvidia proprietary *nix, driver to name just one well known example - i.e. a piece of native code in the form of a closed source kernel nodule.

The "blobs" referred to by GPL fans are in fact device firmware (usually for NICs or some VGA adaptors or CPUs, etc), which is not even executable by the OS itself, but which is simply loaded onto and runs on, the hardware device itself. If you're running re-purposed "Wintel" hardware (x86), chances are you have multiple devices already loaded with such firmware, which for the most part is proprietary and has no source code available.
 

Chris_H

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Indeed. Which was my point; as per reversing those blobs, for the sake of getting better hardware support, than the vendor provides for free OS's. The Nouveau project is a good example of reversing Nvidias (blobs) on Linux.

--Chris
 

ralphbsz

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We can also create a dependence to some nonfree software.
You do understand that the computer you typed this on has a disk drive (perhaps an SSD), and that the disk drive contains probably somewhere between 1/2 million and 1 million lines of source? The router you got from your ISP probably runs some version of Linux or Android or a network PS, and contains another few million lines of code. While this forum probably runs on a FreeBSD machine (duh), most other things you use on the web rely on non-free software. Anytime you use Google, Yahoo, Netflix, or Amazon, you are running tens or hundreds of millions of lines of nonfree software.

I understand the desire to use open source software where possible, but please don't think that you are making any dent in the amount of non-free software in the world.

Also when you run nonfree software you don't exactly know what it's doing so it could be running malicious code without you knowing.
You as an individual have no chance at all to review the source code, even to a small and well-organized OS like FreeBSD, to search for malicious code. Matter-of-fact, one of the advantages of OpenBSD is that a large team of very skilled programmers has audited all of the base system to look for malicious code; the effort took years, and does not include the packages.

Read the story of Ken Thompson's C compiler hack (which contained a malicious exploit to allow Ken to log into any Unix machine, when the word "Unix" still meant: machine that runs code written by Dennis and Ken). In spite of the fact that the source code of Unix and the compiler was available to lots of people (fundamentally every computer research lab and university), the source code of the hack was never found.

Also look for the story of how disk drives from major vendors got infected with a virus in the drive firmware, which spied for some government.

To use a computer requires a certain amount of trust. At some level, you need to either trust Seagate and Western Digital, or go back to storing data on punched cards. You need to trust the people who wrote your OS. You can not validate an OS at the level of being able to find malicious exploits any more; the world is too complicated for that.

I think this is why the Free Software Foundation don't recommend FreeBSD.
The FSF is not interested in the general health of free software. They are interested in pushing their own worldview. One can agree or disagree with their worldview, but please don't think they are advocates for all of the OSS ecosystem.

So what are your thought on free software, ...
I prefer to use it, when it is a good solution to my problems. Which is why my home server runs FreeBSD. At work, I use lots of Linux, and other free software (in addition to a lot of custom and non-free software). At home, I also use a MacBook as my primary workstation, and I run Linux on one machine (a Raspberry Pi, the FreeBSD support for the RPi was too spotty to use it in practice.

... are you okay with have blobs if it's for the convenience of having better driver support?
I fear that blobs are a necessity for certain hardware. That's particularly true for video and graphics cards. For baseline motherboard, network and storage they are usually not needed (there are exceptions). But believing that you have 100% control over the software that runs in those devices is insane anyway. As I wrote above, the firmware that's in devices like high-end SCSI controllers or high-end network cards is at least as complex as a device driver, and that isn't a blob (but downloaded into flash on the card). And blobs are no worse than firmware.
 

rigoletto@

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Making it more clear, the FSF people is not different of any people working on the Third sector (anti-abort, pro-abort, #MeToo, anti-smoking, anti-guns, pro-guns, etc), they are all make a living of pushing those subjects and will still be pushing them ever in situations when it does not make any sense at all, and/or when they personaly do not support them, otherwise they will not make money.

My ex-girlfriend work on the Third sector and while she is a racist and xenophobe Flemish women ( who also is a devote of the Flemish Movement, btw ), she is often involved on NGOs supporting African people and Immigration because pushing those subjects make a lot of money.

People and corporations throw a lot of money on those NGOs. Corporations specially like those because it make them look great on the picture (in reallity, nobody cares).
 

Chris_H

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. . .
My ex-girlfriend work on the Third sector and while she is a racist and xenophobe Flemish women ( who also is a devote of the Flemish Movement, btw ), she is often involved on NGOs supporting African people and Immigration because pushing those subjects make a lot of money.
Ouch! my heart goes out to you. That had to be difficult for a person with your convictions.
Interestingly; the feminist movement wanted equal rights. Used to be that only one person had to go "out", to make a living for the family. Now "both" must go out to make a living. Brilliant!
Sigh...

Sorry. I digress.

--Chris
 

rigoletto@

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Those are things you just know when you are close related because she does not push or keep talking something about those subjects. I mean, didn't made or make any difference in my relation with her.

Most cases I know both people go out to make a living is because even doing that the money is still short for them. I also know others couples who both work on the same field/business ( usually lobbyists and consulting people ) and end up spending all time together.
 

Chris_H

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Oh good. That's good to hear.
As to feminist; I was suggesting that the early feminist movement, ultimately lead to both parties being required to work "out in the workforce".
Just a thought. :)

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, lebarondemerde

--Chris
 

cynwulf

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Making it more clear, the FSF people is not different of any people working on the Third sector (anti-abort, pro-abort, #MeToo, anti-smoking, anti-guns, pro-guns, etc), they are all make a living of pushing those subjects and will still be pushing them ever in situations when it does not make any sense at all, and/or when they personaly do not support them, otherwise they will not make money.
This pretty much applies to the "blob"/firmware situation as well. The people pushing this are quite simply agenda driven and those who lap it up just clueless and naive.

If you have a x86 made in the last 10 years or so with even a fairly recent Intel or AMD processor, you have the Intel IME/ AMD PSP, plus lots of other firmware/microcode running on the CPU, north bridge, NIC, etc, etc, plus a big lump of mostly proprietary UEFI firmware. Eliminating a few blobs from e.g. the Linux kernel and then giving yourself a pat on the back for being "free as in freedom" just seems like an entirely token approach.
 

scrappywan

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I prefer the BSD license idea of free which, IMHO, is permissibly free. You can essentially do anything you want with the BSD license including building proprietary software around it (MacOS). The GPL is software freedom but with a gun held up to your head.
 

Crivens

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. Eliminating a few blobs from e.g. the Linux kernel and then giving yourself a pat on the back for being "free as in freedom" just seems like an entirely token approach.
This is somehow like "propagating the awareness regarding the n-word", and then patting themselves on the back because all the racists are gone. I just read a piece from a journalist about how this keeps you from writing and how the effect is similar to the MiniTruth of 1984.

For us, we can't get along without blobs. We won't change anything and get nowhere. But we may try.
 
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kuroneko

kuroneko

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For us, we can't get along without blobs. We won't change anything and get nowhere. But we may try.
Exactly what I think. We just have to keep trying. If we can remove the blobs and make a free replacement then that's better instead of being like "Well, non-free software is everywhere so why even try?" though certain companies are against reverse engineering their products to make free drivers for example and that's not nice (I could just do it for myself at home and no one will know). I'd like to write my own code for my hardware so I can have control over it and use it the way I want. If my hardware can't run without non-free software then I'll get it to make it work if it's necessary but I won't support them making non-free drivers because I want to be in control here I want to have the freedom to change what I want. I still understand that what you buy belong to the company and that without them you would have nothing but yeah I'd prefer having access to the code and having the freedom to change it so the hardware operates the way I want.
 

Phishfry

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Who dictate what come or not to Linux these days basically is RedHat, who live of selling support contracts,
Let me help you there.
They live off the US Government. Checkout who is customer #1 for them.
In their defense it is all because the government wants a vendor to supply them.

I saw a piece about a software development center in Boston where USAF guys are learning to code 1:1 with trainers.
They wrote the whole AOC sortie software where Lockheed was coming back for more money after $750 Million dollars.
After review they could not use a single line of the Lockheed code.
The USAF guys did it for under 2 Million Dollars!
Talk about fleecing the government.

Can you imagine what you could buy in the commercial software world for $750 Million dollars.
And greedy Lockheed was coming for more at the same time the USAF guys had code ready.
Thank goodness somebody had the sense to flush the Lockheed mess.
https://www.airforce-technology.com...artnership-saves-big-us-air-force-fuel-costs/
http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1518722/kessel-run-hits-hyperdrive/
So a 2 million dollar program is saving 1 million dollars a day.
 

Crivens

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Don't get me started on those clowns.
Or EADS, or BMW, or some other companies I had the recent misfortune to observe working. Sometimes I wonder how anything stays up there, or keeps it's wheels on, or does not explode when turned on...
 

Maelstorm

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Why do you think Linux is not all about money?

Who dictate what come or not to Linux these days basically is RedHat, who live of selling support contracts, and then the most complicated and obscure the OS become better to them - more people in need to pay for support services...

Actually Linus Torvalds in the one who dictates what goes into the kernel, not RedHat. He and...Keith Thompson (I think) handle the kernel itself, which is what Linux is...just a kernel. I remember reading awhile ago where he banned someone who worked for RedHat from contributing to the kernel. It seems that the Linux crowd is full of interesting personalities all driven by ego...but that's a different topic.

Exactly what I think. We just have to keep trying. If we can remove the blobs and make a free replacement then that's better instead of being like "Well, non-free software is everywhere so why even try?" though certain companies are against reverse engineering their products to make free drivers for example and that's not nice (I could just do it for myself at home and no one will know). I'd like to write my own code for my hardware so I can have control over it and use it the way I want. If my hardware can't run without non-free software then I'll get it to make it work if it's necessary but I won't support them making non-free drivers because I want to be in control here I want to have the freedom to change what I want. I still understand that what you buy belong to the company and that without them you would have nothing but yeah I'd prefer having access to the code and having the freedom to change it so the hardware operates the way I want.

I am going to assume that you do not have a hardware background. As such, I do have a hardware background. The reason why most manufacturers will not allow you to access their source code is because if someone goes tweaking the code, it can cause the hardware to malfunction, or even be in non-compliance of regulations (WiFi is a good example of this). With silicon, the manufactures do their best to minimize the hardware as much as possible using tools like Verilog and such. Therefore the hardware is not going to check for invalid values written to registers. Another reason is that the hardware can end up in an invalid state and can possibly be damaged by setting registers wrong. FPGAs come to mind as they can be damaged by a bad config file. Along those lines, I remember from the 1980's there was some viruses that tried to blow up your monitor by pushing the video card output frequencies to the maximum the card would allow. So a binary blob in the context of a device driver is not necessarily a bad thing as the manufacturer may be trying to protect the consumer from themselves.

Granted, many of us who inhabit these forums of not your average end user, so I do understand your point. The problem is that the manufacturers don't know who will buy their products, so they have to cater to the lowest common denominator.
 

rigoletto@

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Can you imagine what you could buy in the commercial software world for $750 Million dollars.

I am no expert but with this amount of money would more practical to custom develop everything in house, and probably would still save to maintain the software for several years.
 

scottro

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I keep thinking we should have a subforum marked something like I hate Linux, as it would be a convenient place to put many of these threads, say, any that has more than 3 I hate Linux posts in it.
 
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