[Dev] Discussion to make a decision about "MIPS Installation/Precursor OS" article

Daniel Clark dclark at pobox.com
Mon Jan 9 04:30:41 GMT 2012

So I think the people who have parabola installed probably used the
gNewSense installer or got a yeeloong pre-installed with gNewSense from my
company. Unfortunately the gNewSense installer is currently broken and has
been for quite a while. So I don't think there is currently a way to do the
install without a libre distro without removing the hard drive, and IMHO
that is too high a barrier for entry for new users. Also, I've found that
5-10% of the time doing this somehow corrupts the hard drive (this is with
multiple machines and SATA adapters; I have no idea why this happens.)

IMHO it's important to be pragmatic while developing free software; just as
rms built GNU at first using nonfree software as a base layer, I don't
think it's a big threat to software freedom"to install a libre operating
system via one that includes a few binary blobs that can then be deleted,
esp. if that means the user and developer base to improve the libre distro
is likely to increase faster due to decreased entry barrier.

The important thing is to delete the nonfree software as soon as possible.
An example of this is when rms was using the OLPC XO1 as his main machine;
he got the sys admins to delete the binary blob that made the built-in wifi
work, and then was fine with the system (as that was the only nonfree bit).
So perhaps we should include in the install instructions directions on how
to remove all of the Debian stuff from the hard drive after Parabola is
working (the only tricky bit is that some stuff on sda1 - eg boot.cfg -
must be preserved.)

Perhaps even better would be instructions to replace the Debian system with
a "backup" Parabola system, so if when changing low-level software on the
main system it becomes unbootable, it would be easy to fix.

That said I have no dispute with parabola/mipsel needing an installer
not dependent on any other software as soon as possible.

For the Yeeloong, the easiest install method (by pressing tab after having
inserted a USB key with a vmlinuz file and a .lzma file) is also not well
documented, but I'm guessing some combination of just looking at the BJLX
example, doing more search for doc, and bugging BJLX and Lemote people will
be enough to get it working.

On Sun, Jan 8, 2012 at 11:05 PM, Charles Roth <cer at parlementum.net> wrote:

> I vote for option 3 and/or let's develop an ISO for a free precursor OS
> for people to use.
> On Mon, Jan 09, 2012 at 12:56:43AM -0200, André Silva wrote:
> > This discussion is about that an user put an article that recommends
> > Debian to install as precursor operating system. How to all knows,
> > Debian is a non-free distro don't recommended by FSF (
> > http://www.gnu.org/distros/common-distros.html ), but as in this case is
> > being used as precursor OS, we decided open a discussion, and you could
> > to help us to make a decision:
> >
> > 1. Vote to eliminate this article completely, because it threatening the
> > freedom.
> >
> > 2. Vote to keep it like this.
> >
> > 3. Vote to improve this article eliminating non-free contents and puts
> > an alternative for it.
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > Dev at lists.parabolagnulinux.org
> > http://lists.parabolagnulinux.org/mailman/listinfo/dev
> >
> --
> Charles Roth
> Cultural Detective and Curious Antiquary
> General Editor of The Encyclomundi Wiki
> Email: cer at encyclomundi.org
> Microblog: http://parlementum.net/parlementum
> About Me: http://encyclomundi.org/wiki/User:Encyclom
> "Like so many Victorian gentlemen of leisure, he published pamphlets"
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