Free Software Foundation Does Not Endorse Haiku


After reviewing the Free Software Foundation’s website in search of potential new distros, I came across this little statement near the bottom of a page as to why the Foundation does not endorse Haiku as truly free software. “Haiku includes some software that you’re not allowed to modify. It also includes nonfree firmware blobs”.

I am wondering if the Haiku team plans on making Haiku 100% Libre/GNU in the future, or at least keep the amount of proprietary code to a minimum?. As corporations creep ever closer into Linux space, I believe we shouldn’t forget how important truly free and open software is for security and privacy purposes.


There’s already a 7 year long discussion about this topic [1].

It’s the first hit if you search the forum for “free software” [2].

Maybe you should check that out, and ask any further questions there? :slight_smile:

[1] Making Haiku Free Software


Well it seems to have long since been a point of discussion, but has anything been done to remedy this issue?. For now I understand the need to run proprietary software like graphics drivers (especially), but I have learned to value Open Source/Libre software not only due to what it represents but because of the real benefits of having software completely exposed and free to both use and to develop for any purpose. Privacy and Security mainly, as I said before.


Right now, the only closed-source components in the default install is liblayout (previously all of WonderBrush was closed-source and proprietary, but it was open sourced last week, so, we’re now down to just one thing.) You can of course uninstall these (or use a nightly build where they are not installed by default) and then you will be running no closed-source code.

I’m not sure what this refers to. I guess the Be Book? That’s “documentation” not “software”, though…

Otherwise, aside from WiFi firmware blobs which all major (except whatever “FSF-approved” distros there are) Linux distros ship by default, and FreeBSD/OpenBSD require only one command to set up, we don’t have any closed source code, not even graphics drivers.


Hmm, interesting. Would you consider this report a misunderstanding then?, or outdated?.


Have you looked at the list of non-free distros in that page? Fedora, Debian, Arch, CentOS, Gentoo, Mandriva, Mint, Suse, Red hat, Slackware, Ubuntu, and a few more.

Yes, any Linux distro you can name off the top of your head, according to the FSF, is “Boo!!! non-free!!!”. Thanks for your support, FSF.

So, no, we are not going to cripple our hardware support and stop shipping closed source applications and wifi firmwares in our releases. We are however continuing to write MIT licensed code and promote free software. In a pragmatic way, not in an extremist way like the FSF, because extremism never does any good.


Haiku uses primary MIT license for its internals, which is already a “no go” for FSF.

There is a difference between the spirit of “open source” and “free software”. Both approaches provide the source of the software. But while the open source values the developer’s liberty in collaboration and creation, free software values the user’s liberty.


That’s not correct. “Open Source” is really bad because it allows closed software minded companies look “Hip” while still not understanding or supporting what “Free Software” is all about (and thus slowly and continually undermining what FS people fight for).

That said keep in mind that “Free Software” is not the same as “FSF”. One is the spirit, the other an organization which at times overshoots. I’m all for FS and against OS but FSF doesn’t really help the situation sometimes. As long as you can choose to not use the non-FS stuff if you want to all is fine. As soon as you depend on non-FS stuff then things are a problem, not before.


The FSF is fine with the MIT license:

They would prefer Apache 2.0 which has additional guarantees about patents, but still.

As for Open Source vs Free Software, remember that people who created the FSF and the OSI agree on the concepts and will tell you it’s the exact same thing. But for some reason people will tell they are part of one but not the other.

How can you be “against open source”? Companies understood that the model can work, and they are trying to join. They may make errors (so does individuals, sometimes). Just as when some individual starts contributing to a project, you have to guide them and help them do better.

I hope we can build a world where open source takes off and companies manage to make a living out of it. Yes, they will try to apply their old schemes. Yes, what anyone does is never enough. But, there’s progress, at least.

Now if you ask me, I’ll tell you that I’m part of Open Source, not Free Software. Because I’m not fighting for anything. This is not a war. I’m just trying to bring better workflows, more collaboration, and eventually better software. I’ll collaborate with everyone who wants to join, company or not. I’m not here to fight with anyone who disagrees, I’ll just try to prove them wrong and hope they change their mind.


As for Open Source vs Free Software, remember that people who created the FSF and the OSI agree on the concepts and will tell you it’s the exact same thing
And that’s the problem. OS is a wolf in sheep pelt. It does not bite by default but it “can”. For this reason I stand behind FS because I am for protecting free software from sneaky companies.


Pretty sure they are referring to how the trademark thing works… so you can’t actually build Haiku as shipped and distribute it due to those.

FSF compliance is a complete waste of time… libreboot thier coreboot “alternative” can’t even support graphics cards because they refuse to load any firmware blobs.


Yes, but the same is true of most Linux distributions… You can rather easily remove the trademarks from a build, so I don’t know why that would be an issue.


It isn’t an issue unless you are a FSF zealot…

They also don’t like that the OS is targeted at running proprietary BeOS software even if none of that is bundled.


We at least have to make sure that all the software/drivers currently in Haiku is free, open and ‘controllable’. I think people like Richard Stallman have a very genuine and necessary stance on the dangers of proprietary software in the modern age, where companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Facebook have dangerous monopolies and love to harvest user data any way they can and frequently contribute proprietary code into the Linux Kernel.

I believe something like Trisquel Linux is very usable, the only thing holding it back is the fact that Open Source GPU drivers are nowhere near as optimized as their proprietary counterparts. At least in the case of Nvidia.


I think everyone here understands that, BeOS was Proprietary and Haiku wouldn’t have had to have been written from scratch if it wasn’t, but there are quite a few people out there especially those in the FSF that go to extremes that actually make things more difficult.

Basically Haiku is good enough license wise for any sane person with the noted exceptions.


I’m talking long-term though. It would be best to ensure that all key OS components are Libre/Open Source so that Haiku is not only more secure and private, but that it can be made more customizable in general.

Who knows, some bank or corporation might like Haiku and decide to install it on their servers or business PCs. And if they do, it would be infinitely more secure then other options because every single piece of it is freely available and auditable.


Open source does not imply security, stability or privacy… those area all separate issues. Granted being closed source can impede those significantly.

And contrary to popular belief security though obscurity is a valid method as long as you are doing your due diligence in closing bugs and security issues internally (which most companies do not).

On the other hand being open source, means it is easier to find holes that exist but haven’t been fixed. And with the small developer base Haiku has its more likely there are open holes than closed ones.


Closed source when it comes to large companies like Microsoft and Google is ‘NEVER’ a good thing. They can never keep your system secure and can never keep your system private (especially), even companies like Intel and AMD are lumped in here considering Meltdown and Specter exist and probably more exploits we don’t even know about.

And when key parts of the Linux Kernel are developed by these very companies, it doesn’t spell good things to come.


To me, there’s a very real quandary here – enough it can cause debate within the open source community.

On one side, if you remove everything even smacking of non-free tenets inside, including useful, but closed, firmware/modules for networking and GPU cards and the like, you end up with a possibly unusable system, (unless you find hardware from a dedicated vendor that totally complies to this standard like the 100% free software does.)

On the other side of accepting non-free stuff for the sake of convenience, yes, there is a gradient of compromise. And with that, the growing threat of non-free Titans thoroughly abusing the freedoms of Free Software and taking advantage of it under a guise of ‘open source’ at free developers’ expense. This is more than quite unfair; it is perhaps even exploitation. And it pushes the world closer to a New World Order akin to all the dystopian titles of lore.

But I personally think Haiku needs to continue to offer wireless firmware(s), and Linux distributions need to offer a welcoming experience as well, so long as the user knows of it. And I think install-wifi-firmwares or the ‘Restricted Drivers’ wizards on at least one popular distro of Gnu/Linux makes this distinction clear to the user. True, we lose some pure freedom this way, but if we don’t, we lose usability… and users, which I think is much more important.

So, I guess in adding my own little opinion to this, I see the FSF position as being more iconic and more to ‘set an example’ than I do as practical. It borders on an extreme viewpoint… but I can see why. They want to ensure the world does not forget why there is Free Software. And with the likes of MS in the OSI and Linux Foundation now, there needs to be a balance of voices out there.

As for myself, I don’t know where I stand, really, other than to have hardware and software Coexistence. I think that’s the best way forward. I have used and use Apple products (though with SIP, then SB on T2, then even more hardware lockdown than before, that may change soon!), and also use Haiku and Gnu/Linux all at the same time. All three systems I truly believe have their advantages, and there is much we can learn from each.

In the end, I don’t know. But I do know Haiku has done what it can to be and is Free Software, even if the FSF doesn’t think so. (Personally, I think if the FSF really cares about having full control over the idea of Free Software, they should go ahead and finish the Hurd and have their own finished, ‘true’ OS as their flagship product instead of trying to exist on Linux – and build a GnuTop, GnuBook, or something on a non-x86 architecture, rather than silliness like Gluglug, etc.) Overall, really, there’s my full opinion or ‘two cents’ on it.


Being totally in agreement with this affirmation, I would rephrase it as “And with the small developer base Haiku has its likely the holes are found at much higher rate than they are closed.”