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You are here: Home FSF News Hardware we all want: FSF announces criteria for hardware endorsement program

Hardware we all want: FSF announces criteria for hardware endorsement program

by Brett Smith Contributions Published on Oct 13, 2010 05:29 PM
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, October 14, 2010 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced today that it has published an initial set of criteria for endorsing computers and other devices. The FSF seeks both to obtain feedback on the criteria, and raise interest in the program among hardware manufacturers. Ultimately, the FSF plans to promote an endorsement mark to be carried on products that the FSF endorses.

“The desire to own a computer or device and have full control over it, to know that you are not being spied on or tracked, to run any software you wish without asking permission, and to share with friends without worrying about Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)—these are the desires of millions of people who care about the future of technology and our society. Unfortunately, hardware manufacturers have until now relied on close cooperation with proprietary software companies that demanded control over their users. 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,” said Peter Brown, executive director of the FSF.

The FSF's criteria seek to cover all aspects of user interaction with and control of a device: they say the hardware must run free software on every layer that is user upgradeable, allow the user to modify that software, support free data formats, be fully usable with free tools, and more.

FSF license compliance engineer Brett Smith said, “Every software component needed to produce endorsable hardware is now available. We have several GNU/Linux distributions that only include free software, and are completely functional on the right hardware. We have the LinuxLibre kernel that does not include nonfree microcode. And we have cutting edge mobile platforms like Android and MeeGo that are based on free software. In the past we've spoken to manufacturers who were interested in making free software-friendly hardware, but they worried about connecting with customers. 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.”

The initial set of guidelines are available on the LibrePlanet wiki, at http://libreplanet.org/wiki/Hardware/Endorsement_criteria. The FSF welcomes feedback on the wiki discussion page, including suggestions for improvements to the criteria, as well as ideas and art submissions for an endorsement mark.

Hardware manufacturers interested in endorsement should contact licensing@fsf.org.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About Free Software and Open Source

The free software movement's goal is freedom for computer users. Some, especially corporations, advocate a different viewpoint, known as "open source," which cites only practical goals such as making software powerful and reliable, focuses on development models, and avoids discussion of ethics and freedom. These two viewpoints are different at the deepest level. For more explanation, see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html.

Media Contacts

Brett Smith
License Compliance Engineer
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942 x18
brett@fsf.org

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