Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Rahul Sundaram sundaram at fedoraproject.org
Sun Jul 13 21:05:50 UTC 2008

Jonathan Roberts wrote:
>>        My opinion is that it's political in nature.  GNU doesn't like Red
>> Hat and, by extension, anything that Red Hat contributes to.  OC, I have
>> absolutely no proof nor reason for this opinion.  But it's a gut feel.
> Not the case.


Many of the GNU projects including GCC, glibc, coreutils etc is either 
maintained by Red Hat or has significant Red Hat contributors.


It is true however that FSF is somewhat reluctant to endorse major 
distributions without explicit policy and I think that's understandable. 
However FSF's policy itself towards some of more ancillary things in a 
distribution such as content, documentation and firmware was earlier 
unclear and that has been getting fixed now. See below.

> The situation with Fedora and the FSF is, as I understand it:
>  * Fedora allows some non-free firmware in the distribution, the
> policy under which this is allowed was linked to in a previous message
> in this thread
>  * The FSF will not give "free" status to any distribution that
> explicitly allows non-free firmware in it
>  * Fedora people have been in touch to discuss this with them, and
> progress has been made.
> Rahul Sundaram is the one who's worked on this, and I'm sure he knows
> the details so perhaps he might post so we're crystal clear :)

I described the last status at


Meanwhile David Woodhouse has been working on patches to make it 
possible to separate the firmware that is currently inside the kernel.


Aside for the legal and philosophical issues, this has several other 
practical advantages and there is a kernel summit discussion in the 
agenda. If and when that gets done, end users would be able to exclude 
the firmware completely and it would also be possible to create a 
separate spin more targeted towards meeting FSF's criteria



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