linux-libre advocacy question

Alexandre Oliva lxoliva at
Sun Mar 29 05:54:40 UTC 2009

Hi, Brian,

It was a pleasure to meet you at Libre Planet.

On Mar 28, 2009, Brian Gough <bjg at> wrote:

> Is there any information online which gives examples of the problems
> with the standard linux kernel that I can use to persuade people to
> switch to linux-libre?

Not really.  There's the .log file in 2.6.28-libre1, that mentions which
drivers were changed and gives an idea of what changed in each of them,
but that's about it.  I'm not sure it's a good idea to draw attention to
specific details, when the main problem is actually a matter of
principle, of goals and policy.

Although there are technical and legal arguments against non-Free
Software in Linux, I don't find them as compelling as those that led me
to undertake this project: the ethical, moral and social principles
behind the Free Software movement.

Say, if someone were to adopt Linux-libre to avoid the legal traps that
are put in place by adding sourceless code (under the GPL?!?) to a GPLed
program, it might very well be reasoned as induced infringement brought
about by the copyright holder, and the consequences (automatic license
termination for everyone who's ever distributed that combination) would
be mutually assured destruction, which sort of ensures it's never going
to happen.  Thus, the legal risk is low, and this is a non-issue, except
for the ethical issue of accepting a license and weaseling out of its
provisions just because nobody is likely to sue over that.

Say, if someone were to adotp Linux-libre to avoid the technical risks
of granting an inauditable piece of code control over the machine bus,
memory and other peripherals, which that piece of code could abuse even
more than the software that runs on the "primary" CPUs, since it
wouldn't be subject to the oversight of the kernel, the virtual memory
subsystem et al, the decision would be reduced to a trade-off between
technical risk and convenience.

And then, a number of the devices that use non-Free firmware don't quite
get so much control over the entire computer system, after all, and
others might but have firmware pre-installed in non-volatile memory,
rather than loaded by the operating system.  Thus, someone led by these
reasons would conclude that Linux-libre's efforts are pointless, for
they fail to solve the issue.

Someone misguided by freedom of choice might be even annoyed that
Linux-libre apparently interferes with their ability to choose when to
use non-Free Software, as if such choices didn't have a negative impact
on others.

The compelling argument to use Linux-libre, IMHO, is that "it is Free
Software, and it doesn't induce you to use non-Free Software".  It
encourages you to live an upright ethical, moral and social life.  By
using and distributing it, instead of non-Free Linux, you refuse to help
aggressors control and oppress users, including yourself.  That's the
reasoning that makes sense to me.  If there are others, I'd love to know

Best regards,

Alexandre Oliva, freedom fighter
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Gandhi
Be Free! --   FSF Latin America board member
Free Software Evangelist      Red Hat Brazil Compiler Engineer

More information about the linux-libre mailing list