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Linux, GNU, and freedom


The Linux developers have a plan to move these firmware programs into separate files; it will take a few years to mature, but when completed it will solve the secondary problem; we could make a \"free Linux\" version that doesn\'t have the non-free firmware files. That by itself won\'t do much good if most people use the non-free \"official\" version of Linux. That may well occur, because on many platforms the free version won\'t run without the non-free firmware. The \"free Linux\" project will have to figure out what the firmware does and write source code for it, perhaps in assembler language for whatever embedded processor it runs on. It\'s a daunting job. It would be less daunting if we had done it little by little over the years, rather than letting it mount up. In recruiting people to do this job, we will have to overcome the idea, spread by some Linux developers, that the job is not necessary.

Linux, the kernel, is often thought of as the flagship of free software, yet its current version is partially non-free. How did this happen? This problem, like the decision to use Bitkeeper, reflects the attitude of the original developer of Linux, a person who thinks that \"technically better\" is more important than freedom.

Value your freedom, or you will lose it, teaches history. \"Don\'t bother us with politics,\" respond those who don\'t want to learn.

Copyright 2002 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved.