FSFLA's petition for Canaima GNU/Linux to be Free

The Venezuelan Presidential Decree 3390, specifically in articles 2 and 7, explains and backs up the reasons why the Venezuelan state should develop a Free Software distribution. Canaima GNU/Linux is this distribution, so it ought to be a Free distribution, without parts that threaten its users' freedoms.

Some institutions have computers with devices that cannot work without privative drivers and “firmwares”. In the long term, they ought to be replaced, but in the short term there will be wishes to install these drivers so as to use them, as if it was normal to include them, without any warning, and as if they didn't amount to any problem or danger.

Canaima GNU/Linux ought to resist the temptation to include these programs in its base distribution and in its future versions. Specially, it ought to avoid at all costs including them as if they were normal and acceptable, for this amounts to legitimizing and accepting them submissively, without actual plans or explicit intentions to avoid this dependency. There are regulations that will require that computers purchased or produced by the Venezuelan state be capable of working with Canaima GNU/Linux. If Canaima GNU/Linux includes privative drivers, it will enable the purchase of far more hardware that demands Privative Software to work, preventing the achievement of our dreamed Technological Sovereignty.

If an institution, for hardware already acquired, requires privative parts to be able to use these devices, then it will have to name and install these parts, optionally and with notification on the documents generated in the process, as established in Presidential Decree 3390. Privative Software is a problem, and not offering resistance amounts to losing many past achievements.

Accepting Privative Software amounts to making entire institutions dependent on the wishes of a business or a small group of people. It's carrying on in the Privative model.

If Privative Software is integrated with Canaima GNU/Linux, we hope it isn't with conscientious acceptance by the project, but rather with the regret and the consciousness of losing Technological Sovereignty, depriving ourselves of our freedom to learn in informatics, and to be able to improve these technologies. Besides, many times nothing can be done with them without approval and blessing from the developers of these privative parts.

Using Privative Software (in any amount) risks the stability and the operation of any system, including the defense ones. A tiny privative program can easily spy on, delete or copy information in such a way that the user cannot realize it.

Finally, regarding the “freedom” to choose Free Software or Privative Software in order to be free: it is possible to accept that someone else controls your computer. It is usual to see those who agree that someone else makes the decisions on their computers, spy on them or deny them some features, in addition to preventing studying and improving its software, for sure. It is true that they can choose to use Privative Software. We know it and we understand it, though with much disappointment, for it is unfortunate that someone wants to choose this option. What we do about this is not to force them or make them reject Privative Software: we notify them that by taking this action (which is not a freedom, neither in fact nor by law) they lose many actual freedoms, of the most important kind, of the kind that affects entire countries and peoples.


Free Software Foundation Latin America joined in 2005 the international FSF network, previously formed by Free Software Foundations in the United States, in Europe and in India. These sister organizations work in their corresponding geographies towards promoting the same Free Software ideals and defending the same freedoms for software users and developers, working locally but cooperating globally.

Copyright 2010 FSFLA

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