As anyone who has read other posts on this blog will know I feel quite strongly about software freedom. I try to use exclusively free software as far as I possibly can. However, unfortunately I do still use some propreitary software, for various reasons.

Nonetheless, I wish to strive to become better in this respect. Recently, I took a look at the 100% free software distribution gnewsense. Thing is, I’m still rather undecided about whether non-free firmware is a problem (topic for a future blogpost maybe) and gnewsense breaks the network cards on both my pcs, rendering it useless for me, until I buy new network cards of course ๐Ÿ˜€ (It also means that I have no compiz, due to graphics card firmware, and the fact that glx has been stripped out (this annoys me, no truly free 3D acceleration yet :S), but I can live without this. The internet, I basically can not).

And, there is also the fact that my belief in the importance of free software has been wavering a bit (I know it is important, I’ve just been wondering how important – I’ll elaborate more in athoer blog post). But, I decided I was at a point where I wanted to try to remove all the tradiotional non-free software. By this I mean software that is regared by everyone by non-free, is not GPL’d etc. In fact most distributions have this content in a separate repository.

On Ubuntu (which I use on my main PC), this software is put into the multiverse. I decided today that I would cut myself off from this repository completely. It should be no harm for me, as I do not use any of these apps, flash and java were installed, but only for other people (gnash and icedtea ftw). However, the thing that is really annoying me is that by disabling multiverse, it is not only non-free software that I can not download, it is also perfectly free software with some sort of legal problem (patents, DMCA). The two groups of software are not the same thing for me (being a freedom lover and patent and DMCA hater), so it is a great inconvenience if the two are just lumped together!!!!!!

I want to be able to have all free software enabled (including that with patent issues etc.) but no non-free software. With ubuntu, I can’t do this – all I can do is pick debs out of multiverse by hand! For this reason, I’m thinking of switching to a distro that does not lump non-free and possibly troublesome together, the obvious choice, I think would be Debian (Sid, I think). Already, I had realised I would be comfortable with debian (I use it on another machine), but given that ubuntu is considered more user friendly and will do anything Debian will do, I had no incentive to switch. Now I do!

I wonder if I can update my current hardy installation to Sid. Its probably not advisable, but given that I have a fallback Kubuntu partion, I might just give it a go, for the hell of it.

Another thing I was wondering, is that I do decide to go freedom crazy (and hate non-free firmware). Then what distro would I choose? Not gnewsense I don’t think, because that doesn’t ship the free software that ubuntu lumps in multiverse. Annoyingly, there doesn’t seem to be a freefree distro based on pure debian. Maybe gnewsense could be tweaked to be based on debian (project for the summer holdiays maybe).

Okay, I just spoke to the gnewsense guys, and it would probably be easier to create a “free multiverse repo”. So, I might not switch to Debian afterall. Then again I might. And everything could change if I manage to buy a new ethernet card. Watch this space ๐Ÿ™‚

Self referencial note: This blog is almost like a conversation with myself. I either leave too long before writing or am still making up my mind whilst I’m writing. The latter is definitely better though.