[Tails-support] questions about tails

intrigeri intrigeri at boum.org
Fri Mar 18 18:39:33 CET 2016


Meta: given the tone of your email, I've hesitated replying at all.
I'll try to provide some food for thought, but I have no desire to
enter a debate.

john smith wrote (18 Mar 2016 16:40:36 GMT) :
> How would you quantify the chances of you currently redistributing
> malware, and more specifically spyware along with the Linux kernel?

I personally have no means to quantify this.

> Here is a related question, Tails claims:

> Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and
> anonymity.

> How is this claim compatible with distributing the absolute mystery
> code, which runs within users' network cards? To be more specific, what
> is the point of supporting network interfaces and other peripherals,
> when each one of them offers an unprecedented attack surface, virtually
> rendering all of your privacy-related achievements worthless?

We have actual users. If they can't use Tails on their current,
real-world hardware, then likely they'll use something else,
that has just the same amount of binary firmware blobs, except
it won't have any of Tails properties that some people find worthwhile.

> My final barrage of questions concerns your claims about free software.
> Your front page claims with really big letters:

> FREE SOFTWARE Tails is Free Software.

> Your statements on a linked page seem to directly contradict each other:

> Tails is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL (version 3 or
> above).

> However, Tails includes non-free firmware in order to work on as much
> hardware as possible.

> What do you mean by "free software"? It cannot possibly be what FSF
> calls "free software", or what OSI calls "open source software", since
> what you call "firmware" is software in every sense of the word, and you
> admit you distribute non-free firmware as a part of Tails.

> Are you claiming that firmware is not software, even though it runs on
> users' CPU and RAM (albeit auxiliary ones)?

> The first one of these statements, "Tails is Free Software...", links to
> an FSF page, implying that here you use the term "free software" in the
> same sense as they do, and yet FSF does not consider Tails to be free
> software, a fact you must be aware of:

> [ http://www.gnu.org/distros/common-distros.en.html ]

> How would you characterize your statement "Tails is Free Software"? An
> honest mistake, a defiant lie, or something else entirely?

A gross simplification. I can't say I like it, but I've never seen any
good proposal to make it better yet.


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