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[multiple issues] Feedback on "potential freedom issues in PureOS"
Open, Freedom IssuePublic

Description

The first couple look like issues that need to be addressed, but I haven't
investigated the rest. Please take a look and see if all these issues
are something that need correcting in order to keep PureOS within our
guidelines
https://www.gnu.org/distros/free-system-distribution-guidelines.html.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions, or need some help, and
please do let me know how each of these issues are resolved/being resolved.

With all that out of the way, here the issues one user found, edited
down a bit for clarity:

  • A while back I was researching a WiFi card, and stumbled onto [this

thread][2] in Purism's official forum, in which a Purism employee
instructs a user to add Debian's non-free repo in order to install the
"firmware-nonfree" package. (Note that these instructions would not work
if PureOS used Linux-libre.) I do not frequent Purism's forum so I don't
know how common an occurance this is, but after finding this thread I
skimmed through the forum I found numerous threads in which the
community helps users install non-free software, something forbidden in
the Trisquel forums.

  • PureOS includes package managers configured to point to repositories

containing non-free software, including [snap][3] and [pip][4]. Pip is
an understandable oversight, as it is normally used by developers and it
is not particularly known for being a source of non-free software, but
Snap is just clearly not okay, being targeted toward ordinary users and
full of non-free software.

  • The PureOS homepage has a [screenshot][5] of something called

"Purebrowser", which looks like a redranded Firefox, so it seems likely
that Purism is aware of the freedom issues with popular browsers and has
their own alternative, which is good. However, Debian's versions of
[Firefox ESR][6] and [Chromium][7], both with known freedom issues, are
present in PureOS's repo.

  • There are many freedom issues already discovered in Debian-based

distros and patched by Trisquel. Some of these issues are introduced by
Ubuntu, but most apply to Debian as well. Not all of them are obvious,
but since Trisquel has already discovered and fixed them .... They are
visible [here][8]. Many of Trisquel's package helpers are for rebranding
or backporting, but I arbitrarily picked a couple that I happened to
know address freedom issues present in both Ubuntu and Debian:
[hplip][8], which prompts the user to download and install a non-free
utility, and [unp][9] whose control file induces the user to install
several non-free packages. I was pleasantly surprised to see that PureOS
[actually has fixed unp][10], but [hplip is unmodified][11] from its
Debian version.

[2]: https://forums.puri.sm/t/wifi-not-working/1249

[3]: https://repo.pureos.net/pureos/pool/main/s/snapd/

[4]: https://repo.pureos.net/pureos/pool/main/p/python-pip/

[5]: https://www.pureos.net/images/screenshot-browser.png

[6]: https://repo.pureos.net/pureos/pool/main/f/firefox-esr/

[7]: https://repo.pureos.net/pureos/pool/main/c/chromium/

[8]:
https://devel.trisquel.info/trisquel/package-helpers/blob/etiona/helpers/make-hplip

[9]:
https://devel.trisquel.info/trisquel/package-helpers/blob/etiona/helpers/make-unp

[10]:
https://source.puri.sm/pureos/packages/unp/-/commit/1746fa3ee48ad69167f3a5d1dc53bf89bfde1652

[11]: https://repo.pureos.net/pureos/pool/main/h/hplip/

Event Timeline

jeremiah.foster triaged this task as Freedom Issue priority.Feb 12 2021, 10:26
jeremiah.foster created this task.

Regarding the first issue, although I agree that people at Purism shouldn't instruct how to install proprietary software (especially this kind of critical drivers!), It would be difficult to forbid instructions or discussions about installing or upgrading Coreboot, which still contains blobs.

Therefore, it was decided that PureOS doesn't belong to Purism but Purism, while being the author of PureOS is a separate entity from the PureOS community. In that regard, it would be preferable for the PureOS community to have their own forums away from the Purism forums.

thanks for your input, @francois - but please wait until this multi-issue has been broken into parts before contributing further, because a) it is too difficult to discuss multiple issues at once in this interface, and b) it is not possible to reassign comments to other more narrow-scoped issue reports once made.

OK @jonas.smedegaard ! I'll copy-paste-crop my comment on the proper issue when it's ready! ;)

Thanks again. You can do that now at T992.

jonas.smedegaard renamed this task from Feedback on "potential freedom issues in PureOS" to [multiple issues] Feedback on "potential freedom issues in PureOS".Feb 14 2021, 02:39

I think "blobs" is tricky terminology which might confuse - it confuses me. I prefer talking about 'firmware'. Firmware is stored in Read Only Memory (ROM) as a binary. It usually cannot be changed and it just meant to make the hardware work at all. The FSF says "Firmware that is installed during use is software; firmware that is delivered inside the device and can't be changed is software by nature, but we can treat it as if it were a circuit." This makes firmware closer, or even the same as, hardware. And while all hardware should have free designs, like Purism's, we don't have to reject non-free hardware the way we have to reject non-free software according to the FSF.

@jeremiah.foster: please don't discuss [multiple issues] issues directly, but instead file a separate issue report for the part you have input on and discuss it there.