How much of non-free software is there in UBports images?



  • Hi,

    I'm wondering how much of non-free software is there in UBports?

    I guess that there must be at least non-free firmware blob in the kernel, as only few distributions remove them ( e.g Debian, Trisquel, Pureos ). Are there also non-free drivers in the kernel for some devices? Are there other non-free software unrelated to the kernel installed by default?

    I think it would be most interesting to have a most precise view on this question, since the free and open-source software argument is the main advantage of UBports against Android.

    Also note that Replicant maintans a list of "Freedom and privacy/security issues" for each of its targeted devices. None of them is completly free of issues.

    Thank's in advance for your reply!
    PIerre.


  • Infrastructure

    Good Morning,

    as we do not have access to mainlined open-sourced drivers each device starts an Android container that makes the userspace blobs working and connects them with the running UBuntu ecosystem.

    As Android uses Linux kernel which is GPLed, all drivers are open-sourced in the kernel. But most of those drivers are only shims, and the real magic happens in the non-free part of a userspace service interacting with the driver.

    So yes, each device that we port from Android to UT has a sinificant amount of non-free firmware and userspace services running. If you remove them, you will loose phone/network and camera functions, and probably also GPU. So pretty much a useless device in the end.

    And I dont think that we are riding the FOSS argument to give people false impressions about having a completly open-sourced phone. Everyone who reads our docs closely can immediately see that we are providing Ubuntu on top of a low-level Android and that this means a lot of compromises. Still, its currently the only way to go if you want to keep at least basic functions working (devices still struggle with sensors, compass, bluetooth etc. despite the use of Android blobs)

    If you think our documents are misleading please point out the respective text parts so that we can make it more clear. Thanks!

    BR



  • Clear questions and clear answers, thank you !
    So, what can be done to break this jail in which we all are shut away ?
    Best regards
    Pulsar33



  • @pulsar33 Librem 5 might be the answer to that. Wait and see. Nothing else @ the moment is posibble.


  • Infrastructure

    Its not only software. The problem is the dominance of the hardware vendors. As long as cheap Chinese phones are bought by the masses there is no incentive to open up their hardware and software (and thereby showing the world how buggy and shitty it is :)) - Expensive phones have sometimes a bit more openess but not much. For example for a good GPU support it would necessary to have access also to the FPGA and hardware programming.

    But consider that even Fairphone is still "unfair" by being forced to use Qualcomm boards with those restrictions. If you compare with the revolution of the IBM PC and its openess the problem is also that a mobile phone is not to be "extended" or modded. Its a combined hardware/software solution and, sadly, considered a consumable throw-away gadget.

    Lets wait what Purism comes up with. They are currently the only ones that are really pushing to having an open hardware platform.



  • @flohack said in How much of non-free software is there in UBports images?:

    If you think our documents are misleading please point out the respective text parts so that we can make it more clear. Thanks!

    No, no I did not mean to say that you were misleading. Sorry if I seemd otherwise.

    But reading a little bit the documentation I did not find immediatly an answer to this question so I asked it. I recently understood a little bit halium and so on, but that's a bit tecnhical at first.

    So yes, each device that we port from Android to UT has a sinificant amount of non-free firmware and userspace services running.

    Ok thank's for the clear answer!

    As Android uses Linux kernel which is GPLed

    Still contains non-free firmware blob though (which is nothing in comparison to Android Blob though). And Kernel allows non-free module, so I'm not sure to understand why they did this userspace trick

    Librem 5 might be the answer

    Yes I preorderd it!



  • @stefano : yes, I watch it regularly
    However, this thread of Replicant's forum sounds strange to me. Things don't seem that clear ...
    Best regards
    Pulsar33



  • Concerning purism, I think they go beyond what I expect in terms of freedom. This post shows it:

    https://puri.sm/posts/librem5-solving-the-first-fsf-ryf-hurdle/

    Not sure why replicant guys are mad. But on a fully free software phone I would definitely not like replicant, I want a real Gnu/Linux! Also they are reproaching Intel's management engine in purism's laptop, saying it would be impossible to disable, but they actually succeed in disabling it:

    https://puri.sm/posts/purism-librem-laptops-completely-disable-intel-management-engine/

    I recently learned about this project which seems very interesting, and allows clear control about non-free software and firmware installed. Could be usefull for a web consultation device on N900 or Sony Xperia Z2:

    http://postmarketos.org/
    https://wiki.postmarketos.org/wiki/Devices

    I don't know if unity/ubuntu touch could be ported on it at some point.


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