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<title>Optionally Free Is Not Enough - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
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<h2>Optionally Free Is Not Enough</h2>
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<p>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 per freedom.</p>

<p>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
choose to reject nonfree software just because the distro offers a way
to do so.  And we don't want to lead people to install nonfree
software.  We've chosen our practices to make that unlikely.</p>

<p>Thus, our decision about recommending a distro depends on who we
would recommend it to.  For instance, it could be:</p>

<li>Specific committed free software supporters that we know will
make an effort to avoid nonfree software.</li>

<li>A large and diverse group, such as, perhaps, the public in general.</li>

<p>We could recommend the distro privately to people in that first
group if the distro provides a clear and reliable way to reject
nonfree software.</p>

<p>However, when it comes to recommending a distro to the general
public, we should insist (and we do insist) on an explicit commitment
not to offer or suggest any nonfree programs.  That way, we know our
recommendation of that distro won't lead the public to install any of

<p>What distros should an install fest recommend or install for the
public?  On moral grounds, an install fest should not recommend or
install nonfree programs.  However, people will bring computers that
need nonfree drivers or firmware blobs in order to run at
all—without those, they will go away disappointed and consider
GNU/Linux a failure.</p>

<p>We thought of an idea for how to reconcile these two needs: the
install fest installs a free distro,
then <a href="/philosophy/install-fest-devil.html">“the
devil” (a person wearing a devil mask) offers to install the
nonfree drivers or blobs that machine needs</a>.</p>

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<p class="unprintable">Updated:
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$Date: 2022/03/20 14:00:58 $
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