Optionally Free Is Not Enough
There are distros we decline to recommend that offer the user the
option of installing only free software. Given that option, a user
who values freedom strongly enough, and thinks about the issue, can
make those distros respect her freedom.
A distro that offers that option is clearly better than one that fails
to offer that option. But that option does not make the distro ok to
recommend in general. After all, most people in our community are not
conscious of this issue. We cannot expect most of them to reject
nonfree software just because the distro offers a way to do so.
So if we are considering whether to recommend a distro,
we need to consider who we would recommend it to. For instance,
it could be:
- Specific committed free software supporters that we know will
make an effort to avoid nonfree software.
- A large group such as perhaps the general public.
For the first case, we could recommend the distro if the distro
provides a clear and reliable way to reject nonfree software.
However, for recommending a distro to the general public, we need to
insist on the criteria we actually use: an explicit commitment not to
offer or suggest any nonfree programs. That way, we know the distro
won't lead the public to install any of those.