Whonix Policy On Non-Freedom Software

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Permitted / Prohibited Discussions, Project Philosophy on Non-Freedom Software, GNU Free System Distribution Guidelines (GNU FSDG)


The Whonix project is a Freedom Software project. (Why?)

Category Description
Amount of Freedom Software contained inside Whonix VM images 100%
Amount of Whonix source code under Freedom Software licenses 100%
Installed default non-freedom software packages inside downloadable Whonix VM images none
Non-freedom source code inside Whonix source code none

Whonix recommends to Avoid Non-Freedom Software and will not bundle any unnecessary, major non-freedom software software components or contribute to these.

Platform Specific[edit]

Whonix supports multiple virtualizers. VirtualBox is one among them. For VirtualBox specific Freedom Software issues vs non-issues, see Kicksecure logo VirtualBox Open Source vs Closed Source The Web Archive Onion Version .

Policy on Non-Freedom Software[edit]

Table: Whonix Policy on Non-Freedom Software

Category Description
Permitted Topics
  • Helping users who ask about non-freedom software; for example - "How do I use Wickr?" Answer: "See the Wickr wiki page."
  • Community-contributed documentation about popular non-freedom software such as VMware and Hyper-V.
  • Discussions about Freedom Software that do or might contain Miscellaneous Threats to User Freedom, for example that rely on Non-Freedom server software such as the Telegram Client (Freedom Software) that requires connections to the Telegram server (Non-Freedom Software).
  • Discussion about Freedom Software alternatives to non-freedom software; for example - "What's a Libre alternative to team viewer?" Answer: "See the Remote Administration wiki page."
  • Running Whonix on top of non-freedom operating systems such as Windows and macOS.
  • Non-freedom Firmware Security and Updates and Processor Microcode Updates.
Prohibited Topics
  • Unsolicited recommendations of non-freedom applications; for example - "How do I use remote support?" Answer: "Use anydesk" (prohibited).
  • Debates about the features and security of closed vs Open Source Software are unwelcome.
Contributions to Non-Freedom Software
  • Examples include Non-freedom software hypervisors such as VMware [1] and Hyper-V.
  • Unless paying for premium support (and hosted on separate website if hosted), it must be hosted without references to the Whonix trademark and website.
Non-Freedom Firmware for upcoming Whonix-Host

The current position on nonfreedom software:

Policy Rationale This policy has been devised for the following reasons:
  • Avoiding endless, circular and non-productive debates.
  • Clearly defining the Whonix project philosophy.
  • Avoiding Non-Freedom Software
  • Community Feedback Policy
  • Brand protection - the Whonix project is known to be a Freedom Software project that routes all communications over the Tor network. It is undesirable to harm this brand by bundling it with unnecessary non-freedom software components.

GNU FSDG Free System Distribution Guidelines[edit]

GNU project's Free GNU/Linux distributions pagearchive.org lists the GNU/Linux distributions that are entirely free as in freedom. It however lists only operating systems primarily run as host operating system.

Until the first stable version of Whonix-Host gets available, this is one reason Whonix cannot fully comply with Free System Distribution Guidelines (GNU FSDG)archive.org and can therefore cannot yet be added to the list. (forum discussionarchive.org).

To understand the following table with GNU FSDG requirements and the self-assessment by Whonix, the reader must probably read the GNU project's Free System Distribution Guidelines (GNU FSDG)archive.org first.

Table: GNU FSDG Self-Assessment by Whonix

GNU FSDG Requirement Self-Assessment by Whonix
Complete Distros This is not possible because Whonix is primarily run inside virtual machines while GNU's list only lists host operating systems.
All information for practical use in a free distribution must be available in source form. Passed.
The information, and the source, must be provided under an appropriate free license. Passed.
A free system distribution must not steer users towards obtaining any nonfree information for practical use, or encourage them to do so. A few popularly requested applications such as Wickr are documented but discouraged in documentation.
The system should have no repositories for nonfree software Whonix is based on Debian. The contrib and nonfree repository is enabled by default for better usability but no packages from these repositories are ever installed by default as per policy. (forum discussionarchive.org)
The system no specific recipes for installation of particular nonfree programs A few popularly requested applications such as Wickr are documented but discouraged in documentation.
Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) Passed. There is no built-in DRM.
Nonfree Firmware Passed. See above chapter.
Trademarks Passed. See Trademark Policy.
All the documentation in a free system distribution must be released under an appropriate free license. Passed.
Additionally, it must take care not to recommend nonfree software. Nonfreedom-software is discouraged.
Patents Passed.
No Malware Passed.
Commitment to Correct Mistakes Yes.
distribution should be actively maintained Passed.
Name Confusion Passed, there is no name confusion.
Please Teach Users about Free Software Passed.
Please Avoid Repeating Propaganda and Confusion Passed.
Issues inherited from Debian Since Whonix is based on Debian, it inherits all FSDG issues that Debian is affected by. LibrePlanet has a long list of Debian FSDG issuesarchive.org. That list however seems was last updated a few years ago. Many of the linked issues are actually resolved as per the replies by Debian Developers. For further determination, as a first step, a contributor would have to update that list and remove the already resolved issues.

See Also[edit]


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