Alexandre Oliva (LP09)

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Freeing the kernel and the Linux-libre project


  • 2006 gNewSense's find-firmware and gen-kernel remove nonfree software from the kernel.
  • 2007 BLAG's deblob and Linux-libre
  • 2008 FSFLA's deblob-check

Be Free!

  • FSFLA campaign to promote software freedom and social responsibility as a way to promote free software.

Linux is not free software

Includes code without sources, under various licenses.

Network driver with 100+Kb of actual binary executable code with a clear proprietary license.

Another network driver from the same vendor is 300Kb of "data" under a license that allows combination with only the GPL and not other free software licenses.

Liberating Linux


  • sourceless code
  • incompatibly-licensed data/code
  • requests for non-free software
  • corresponding info from docs
  • incomprehensible code/data?

The result is suitable for 100% free systems.

Scripts detect proprietary blobs in the kernel.

Source tarballs tracking upstream Linux.

Pristine builds for popular distros. Ali's Freedom Shoppe.

Builds tracking upstream distributions.


  • gNewSense
  • BLAG
  • FREEE :-(
  • Trisquel
  • Musix GNU+Linux (underway)
  • Dyne:bolic (next release)
  • Users of other distros


  • Distros want/need popularity
  • Blobs attract more users?
  • Incentive to betray users, weaken communities
  • Prisoners' dilemma, iterated
  • Defection feeds the aggressors
  • Tragedy of the commons

How can we change this picture

  • Break the myth of breakage
  • Lead by example, "Be Free"
  • Educate users, to shift the incentives
  • Seek credible commitment among distros
  • Take it upstream, uphill?