[Selfhosting]: [librewrt-dev] LibreWRT and the Guidelines for Free System Distributions - Help with Compliance]

cristian paul peñaranda rojas paul at kristianpaul.org
Fri Oct 1 18:06:32 EDT 2010


----- Forwarded message from Danny Clark <djbclark at freedomincluded.com> -----

Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 16:00:29 -0400
From: Danny Clark <djbclark at freedomincluded.com>
To: Probably Brett or Donald <licensing at gnu.org>
Cc: Brett C Smith <brett at fsf.org>,
	Robert Call <Robert.Call at freedomincluded.org>,
	LibreWRT Development List <dev at lists.librewrt.org>,
	Karl Berry <karl at freefriends.org>
Subject: [librewrt-dev] LibreWRT and the Guidelines for Free System
	Distributions - Help with Compliance

Hi, as you may or may not be aware, a group of developers is
attempting to create a GNU Guidelines for Free System Distributions -
http://www.gnu.org/distros/free-system-distribution-guidelines.html -
compliant variant of OpenWRT, called LibreWRT - http://librewrt.org .

The project was started at the last FSF LibrePlanet conference -
http://libreplanet.org/wiki/LibrePlanet2010/Hacking/LibreWrt - and has
since then attracted a few more interested developers, and is nearing
an alpha release.

Besides my general interest in having a Libre operating system
optimized for small devices, my company, Freedom Included, Inc., is
planning on selling the Sharism Ben Nanonote - currently the most
copylefted general purpose computing hardware I am aware of - with
LibreWRT pre-installed, once LibreWRT is ready. Once that happens, and
if we can get LibreWRT compliant with the guidelines, I would think
the FSF might be interested in having this combination be its second
piece of endorsed hardware.

However there are two possible difficulties with compliance, and I'd
like to get feedback from the maintainers of the document on how best
to resolve them.

(1) Self-hosting requirement

"""
A free system distribution should be self-hosting. This means that you
must be able to develop and build the system with tools that the
system provides you. As a result, a free system distribution cannot
include free software that can only be built by using nonfree
software.
"""

It is traditional on small and embedded systems with small amounts of
RAM and other resources to cross-compile from other systems. While it
would probably be possible to compile LibreWRT from LibreWRT, it would
at the best take a very long time; at worst, it is possible GCC would
fail or be so slow due to swap usage that it would take an amount of
time approximating forever.

So I see three options (but would welcome additional suggestions):

(a) People feel this is really important, so LibreWRT people spend a
whole lot of time and possibly money (eg clusters of small devices) on
the self-hosting issue.

(b) The text is changed to allow for use of one Guidelines for Free
System Distributions approved GNU distribution to do builds of another
Guidelines for Free System Distributions approved GNU distribution,
either in general or just in the case of the second one being for a
limited-resource device.

(c) LibreWRT just includes say all of gNewSense or Trisquel in its
source tree, and calls the combination LibreWRT. This would of course
be a cheap and ugly semantic trick, but would seem to conform to the
self-hosting requirement (however IANBCS).


(2) Naming disambiguation requirement

"""
However, we will not list a distribution whose name makes confusion
with non-free distributions likely. For example, if Foobar Light is a
free distribution and Foobar is a non-free distribution, we will not
list Foobar Light. This is because we expect that the distinction
between the two would be lost in the process of communicating this
message.
"""

So we currently call it "LibreWRT". There is of course also "OpenWRT",
on which "LibreWRT" is based, and also at least one other GNU/Linux
distro that uses the *WRT convention, "DD-WRT". Do you see the
"LibreWRT" name as being a problem? If so, do you have any alternative
naming suggestions?

Thanks,
--
        \|/      Daniel JB Clark | Activist; Owner
FREEDOM -+-> INCLUDED ~ http://freedomincluded.com
        /|\      Free Software respecting hardware
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