How to check whether the software is free or not?

11 respuestas [Último envío]
Pandya
Desconectado/a
se unió: 11/11/2014

When we are going to install software that is not available on our repository, before downloading/installing it on our entirely-free system, How to check whether the software is FREE or not?

Magic Banana

I am a member!

Desconectado/a
se unió: 07/24/2010

The first thing to do is to check out the license it is distributed under. The mere name of the license may be listed in https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html that will tell you whether it is a free software license.

That said, it might be harder: software under a permissive license can depend on a proprietary library for instance; Linux, under the GNU GPL, includes blobs disguised as source code; etc. Also, be aware that a free software application may recommend proprietary software (for example Firefox recommends Adobe Flash).

marioxcc
Desconectado/a
se unió: 08/13/2014

Check that the licenses are free software licenses (some free licenses may be missing from there, but most free software packages use one of these licenses), and that the package has complete source code available. You can check the license by downloading the source code. For the GNU licenses and some other licenses, there should be a copy of the license itself distributed along with the software; not complying with this requisite doesn't makes the program proprietary; but it's a sign that the developer is sloppy about licensing and he may unintentionally have included proprietary dependencies or failed to unambiguously make his program free software. It must be clear which license apply to each file. Just including the license in the source distribution without further licensing information leaves uncertain whether the license applies to the program, and hence it can not be considered free software (See the GNU GPL FAQ).

Check the section How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs in the GNU General Public License. These are guidelines, though. It's not a necessary condition to follow these guidelines in order for a program to be free software, but it's a sufficient condition provided that entire package is under that license, and that source code is included.

Some software packages have no license, and that makes them proprietary (See the GNU GPL FAQ § No License). If you find software like this that would be useful in a fully free system, consider writing to the author to make him aware that because of the lack of license, his software is proprietary (despite that he may have intended otherwise), and ask him to make it free software (preferentially under the GNU GPL). This is almost always due to indolence of the author, specifically, a disliking for Copyright law coupled with the erroneous belief that ignoring it will make it not apply.

Note that sometimes there is object code in the form of human readable programming language code. Notably, this is the case with Linux, but I don't know of any other package doing the same.

Apart from being fully free itself, you should make sure that the program doesn't has mandatory proprietary dependencies but this not necessary to do explicitly if you have checked that the package itself is free and you have no proprietary software installed (you would notice if that was the case because the package will not compile or will not run properly).

Pandya
Desconectado/a
se unió: 11/11/2014

OK. Thank-you for comprehensive answer.

marioxcc
Desconectado/a
se unió: 08/13/2014

No problem. If you have trouble determining whether a package is free, let us know.

Pandya
Desconectado/a
se unió: 11/11/2014

YAD (Yet Another Dialog) is not available on our repository. And I had trouble with installing from source code. So, I've downloaded deb and checked license. I want to be clear/sure that a package is free or not?

Magic Banana

I am a member!

Desconectado/a
se unió: 07/24/2010

I want to be clear/sure that a package is free or not?

If you value your freedoms, then you do.

tomlukeywood
Desconectado/a
se unió: 12/05/2014

if your ever not sure weather a program is free or not all
you need to do is make sure it has a free license and then
compile it from source it you can do this is libre

or you could just ask on this forum

timcowchip
Desconectado/a
se unió: 08/28/2014

You can always install and run vrms to find out whether or not you have any non-free software installed.

chris@chris:~$ vrms

Contrib packages installed on chris

game-data-packager Installer for game data files
wolf4sdl SDL-Port of Wolfenstein 3-D and Spear of Destiny

2 contrib packages, 0.1% of 1815 installed packages.

AdjuntoTamaño
vrms_1.16_all.deb 12.65 KB
onpon4
Desconectado/a
se unió: 05/30/2012

That only works with Debian, and even there it's incomplete, and based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines (which are a little different from GNU FSDG). All vrms checks is whether or not you have packages installed from Debian's non-free repository.

Pandya
Desconectado/a
se unió: 11/11/2014
davidnotcoulthard (no verificado)
davidnotcoulthard

I think a you can go to /usr/share/docs (or doc?) and find the licences of pretty much every file of every package installed.

Look for the files belonging to the YAD package.