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FSF Does Not Accept Debian as a Free Distribution. Here's Why!

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GNU
Debian

The Debian Project develops a free GNU/Linux distribution that respects the freedom of its users. It’s not uncommon for software, the source code of which is distributed under this or that free license, to contain non-free components. In this case, the software is cleaned before being released into Debian. The Free Software Foundation (FSF), in turn, maintains a list of free GNU/Linux distributions, but oddly enough, Debian is not there. The fact is that Debian does not meet some criteria for getting on this list and we have to figure out which ones. But first, you need to understand how all this intellectual work is justified. In other words, why bother trying to get on some lists and this one in particular?

Stefano Zacchiroli, who used to be the leader of the Debian Project from 2010 to 2013, once voiced several reasons why Debian should have got the FSF to obtain the status of free distribution. One of these reasons, which Stefano called “external review”, I especially liked. The fact is that Debian has criteria and quality standards that software must meet to become part of the distribution, but no one except the Debian developers themselves controls this process. If the distribution had been included in that cherished list, the FSF would have been keeping a close eye on the fate of Debian with moderate criticism. Excellent motivation, I believe. If you also think so, then let’s now have a look at the reasons why the FSF considers Debian as not free enough.

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