Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Mon Jul 14 08:59:18 UTC 2008

On Jul 13, 2008, Antonio Olivares <olivares14031 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> It contains mp3 codecs and all of the "non-free" stuff that fedora
> does no include.

There's a faulty assumption here.

mp3 codecs are not necessarily non-Free.  The existence of a patent
valid in a few countries doesn't turn all implementations of that idea
into non-Free Software.

Fedora chooses not to ship that software not because it's non-Free
(it's not), but rather because it's based in the US, where there are
patents with litigant holders allegedly covering the technology.  It's
risk management, not an ethical or moral issue.

> Q Why are they "more free" than Fedora?  

Because they are :-)

They take out all non-Free Software that Fedora ships, and they add
more Free Software that Fedora chooses not to ship.

> A Because Fedora includes Firmware and those guys don't.   

That's not all.

They actually *remove* Firmware that Fedora prefers to ship, falsely
labeled as GPLv2, even.

And, more importantly, they have *policy* to reject non-Free Software.
Policy is actually more important than what gets shipped, to some
extent.  For example, gNewSense shipped accidentally some non-Free
stuff drivers and firmwares unknowingly inherited from Ubuntu.  Did
this cause gNewSense to be removed?  No, because they proceeded to
remove it as soon as they could, according to their stated policy.

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{lsd.ic.unicamp.br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{redhat.com, gcc.gnu.org}

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