*countable infinities only

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Sat Jun 2 21:14:12 UTC 2012

On Sat, Jun 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM, Matthew Garrett <mjg59 at srcf.ucam.org> wrote:
> That's fine as long as you speak English.

Come on now, you're building a strawman argument. I never said that it
had to be in a single language—notice messages I _normally_ write get
put into many languages.

I don't see why the text of the screen couldn't be outside the signed
area so people could continue to develop it in an efficient manner.

> But you've arbitrarily decided that the
> freedom to do anything about that isn't one that you care about? There
> are no easy answers here. You've just drawn your "This freedom is
> worthwhile" line in a slightly different place to me.

There isn't an easy answer here because you've defined a higher goal
then just getting information to people.

The goal you've set—Fedora working out of the box on this hardware
without user fuss—can't be accomplished via technical means, except by
restricting the bootloader and kernel.  There is no law of nature
which says that this must be your goal, however.

When it comes down to it, your "drawing the line" argument just
doesn't make sense.  There is always injustice in the world.  If you
want to be pedantic, anyone who ever seeks a more lawful or more
ethical path is simply "drawing a line", because there is always some
more fundamental injustice they've left unsolved for the moment.

We have an operating system where the users can modify it—top to
bottom—and distribute the results, and have them just as able to be
used as Fedora itself is, where they all stand sharing with each other
as technological equals without having to ask permission.  This
freedom is both an ethical stance, embodied in the vision of the
Fedora project and in the licenses of the many thousands of free
software packages Fedora ships, and also a competitive advantage,
because this kind of freedom is precluded by the the business models
of Apple and Microsoft.

This isn't just the practical advantage of being able to twiddle with
our own machines, but also the advantage of having a cooperative
ecosystem rather than a co-opting ecosystem.  But with this change,
for the majority of users, Fedora will become a lot more like
Microsoft's offering—a locked kernel which you can load userspace apps
on top of— which you can "jailbreak" to get more freedom. This is
practically a twenty-year step backwards in software freedom, a loss
of a practical advantage of our software, and an affront to the
developers of copylefted software—some written as a direct attack on
these kinds of restrictions. And it is the loss of a strong principled
position which we have used to market free software: that the concept
of jailbreaking is foreign to us because we don't, as a matter of
principle and of license compliance, restrict our users.

There are places where the freedoms provided by Fedora have practical
limits—and in those places we find people arguing to advance those
causes (such as preemptively renaming trademarked packages). But that
in no way excuses a new loss of freedom; if it is to be justified, it
must stand on its own merits. These merits must be judged not against
the weakest strawmen, but against the best alternatives. A signed help
screen is an alternative.

Fedora installs are easier than they were ten years ago when you did
have to frequently mess with the BIOS—and where the failures never had
a nice help screen—but being realistic, our install instructions still
have people raw-writing images to usb sticks, and it is still not that
uncommon to have to muck around in the BIOS to get the boot order
right. A totally clueless person with an install disk can easily wipe
out a system full of their data.  I think regressing to the installs
being somewhat easier than ten yearsish ago is still a better place to
be than the cryptographic lockdown.

Why not try the half step— a restricted help screen display module—
and only go the whole way if it proves inadequate?

More information about the devel mailing list