Non-free Linux Code

Alexandre Oliva lxoliva at
Wed May 26 16:03:44 UTC 2021

[adding the mailing list]

On May 26, 2021, BTD Master <btdmaster at> wrote:

> I noticed PureOS mentioned. However, in its repositories it seems to
> use the vanilla Debian kernel

*nod*; Debian cleans up Linux, and PureOS relies on that.

> what exactly the Linux-libre kernel has
> that is important for free software.

We also disable loading of known non-free firmware, so that, even if you
install it on a hostile distro that automates installation of non-free
firmware based on kernel requests, you won't get any.

That's important for GNU FSDG-compliance of a kernel distribution.

For a distro that encompasses the other pieces and knows they won't
induce users to error, this extra step is not essential.

> Looking through deblob-check, however, I could not find anything beyond
> MIT-licensed assembly code with magic bytes being removed

Which version did you look at, and what specifically did you see?
I don't think that description is fitting for anything we do or did.

> though not copyleft C code, it is nothing like the awful things that
> go on in linux-firmware.

MIT/X11-licensed sourceless binary code is just as non-Free as something
distributed under an obnoxious license.  Either one distributed in
combination with a GPLed program deviates from the terms of the GPLv2
and triggers its automatic termination.  So it's not like it wouldn't be
awful in its own way.

> Is there something I am missing that makes the mainline
> kernel tree
> (
> objectively non-free?
is still applicable.

Alexandre Oliva, happy hacker      
   Free Software Activist                       GNU Toolchain Engineer
Disinformation flourishes because many people care deeply about injustice
but very few check the facts.  Ask me about <>

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