Free GNU/Linux system distributions (or “distros”) only
include and only propose free software. They reject non-free
applications, non-free programming platforms, non-free drivers,
non-free firmware “blobs”, and any other non-free software
and documentation. If they discover that by mistake some had been
included, they remove it.
Free GNU/Linux Distros
We recommend that you use a free GNU/Linux system distribution, one that does
not include proprietary software at all. That way you can be sure that you are
not installing any non-free programs. Here is our list of such distros:
Free GNU/Linux distributions.
All of these existing distros could use more development help. Thus,
if you want to make an effective contribution to free GNU/Linux
distributions, we suggest that you join the development of an existing
free distro rather that starting a new free distro.
Free Distro Guidelines
Here is the list of problems that can prevent a distro from being
considered entirely free:
Guidelines for free system distributions.
Many common and well-known GNU/Linux software distributions don't meet
our guidelines. You can read about their problems here:
Why we can't endorse many well-known GNU/Linux distros.
We appeal to the developers of these distros to remove the non-free parts and
thus make them entirely free software.
Optionally Free Is Not Enough
Some GNU/Linux distributions allow the user the option of installing only free software. You can read:
Why optionally free is not enough.
Why Is This Important?
When a GNU/Linux distro includes nonfree software, it causes two kinds
- If you install it, you may install and use nonfree software.
- It gives people the wrong idea of what the goal is.
The first problem is a direct problem: it affects users of the
distro, if they install the nonfree software. However, the second
problem is the more important one, because it affects the community as
The developers of nonfree distros don't say, “We apologize for
the presence of nonfree components in our distribution. We don't know
what possessed us to include them. We hope that next release we will
keep our minds on freedom.” If they did, they would have less
of a bad influence.
Instead, they generally present the nonfree software in their systems
as a positive feature; they say that their goal is “the best
possible user experience”, or something like that, rather than
freedom. In other words, they lead people to place convenience above
freedom — working directly against our campaign to make freedom
the primary goal.
The fact that these distros don't deliver freedom is why we don't
endorse them. That they teach people not to value freedom is why
we are strongly concerned about this issue.