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14 October 2010, 10:03

FSF initiates "Respects your Freedom" hardware endorsement

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The Free Software Foundation has announced the initial criteria of the "Respects Your Freedom" hardware endorsement programme. Under the programme, the FSF will endorse products that comply with its conditions, which include; using only free software in all parts of the product, ensuring the software can be built using only free software tools and allowing user installation of modified software. The non-profit organisation is seeking to get feedback on these criteria and hopes to use the process to raise the interest of hardware manufacturers.

Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF said the programme was needed because "As citizens and their customers, we need to promote our desires for a new class of hardware – hardware that anyone can support because it respects your freedom". The initial criteria include – users not needing proprietary software to interact with the device, a licence for free software users for all patents which may be owned or licensed to the device maker, provision of alternatives to patent encumbered file formats and – when talking about the device – the use of FSF approved terminology such as "GNU / Linux" and speaking of 'Free Software' more prominently than 'open source'.

"Every software component needed to produce endorsable hardware is now available" said Brett Smith, FSF licence compliance engineer, pointing to the LinuxLibre kernel, which contains only free microcode and the free software based Android and MeeGo. Smith says that the programme is designed to allow vendors to connect with customers when they make their hardware free software friendly adding that "With our endorsement mark and the strong criteria that back it, we plan to bridge that gap and demonstrate to manufacturers that they stand to gain plenty by making hardware that respects people's freedom instead of curtailing it".


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