FSFE Potteries / Meeting on 15/2/2022: Checking for non-free software

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This page has some brief notes and imagery surrounding a past meeting, you likely got here by clicking a link shown on a past calendar event.

We had a bit of a practical in this meeting (using screen sharing on Jitsi) and broke out a copy of VirtualBox (a GPLv3 build, not the Oracle one!) and unfortunately then proceeded to install two non-free distros of Ubuntu 21.04 and Debian 11.1. WHY!?... well the whole point was to see just how much non-free software would be installed out of the box!

Technically we cheated a little as we booted them to their live desktop environments instead of actually installing them... mostly to save time! Also the actual ISO files we used were... ubuntu-21.04-desktop-amd64.iso and debian-live-11.1.0-amd64-gnome.iso (we chose GNOME to have a like-for-like comparison with Ubuntu).

To do this interrogation we used a bit of software that luckily came in both the Ubuntu and Debian repositories at the same version of 1.27, which is vrms. The name comes from 'Vritual Richard M. Stallman'... probably as a humorous nod to how RMS would likely never be silent on what isn't free about your system! But actually it would seem that vrms is more designed to spot what isn't free according the Debian Free Software Guidelines instead.

We talked a bit about you can always try to look up the original author of a bit of software, and see if you can find the source code... and thus what license file came along with it. This is helpful if you manually want to check if a bit of software is Free Software. Usually the best thing to do, is to see if the license they have published the source under... is on this list which the FSF have prepared (we looked for one that FSFE had made, but couldn't find one).

Given the controversies with RMS, and how the vrms software is actually more about Debian's interpretation of what is and is not DFSG compliant... we think it is likely that vrms will get a name change at some point, so we'll just have to see.

That's it for now! Bye.

LocalGroups/Potteries/Calendar/2022-02-15 (last edited 2024-02-14 16:28:24 by Lantizia)