[Dev] [libreplanet-discuss] QTWebengine is nonfree

Hanno Böck hanno at hboeck.de
Mon Jan 9 21:24:47 GMT 2017


On Sat, 7 Jan 2017 23:15:44 -0300
André Silva <emulatorman at riseup.net> wrote:

> Hi guys, since Chromium is blacklisted as nonfree software [0] we
> have a serious issue. KDE is migrating their apps to QTWebEngine
> which contains Chromium as the embed engine inside it. [1]

I've read through the entire thread now and tried to follow the links,
yet I can't find any evidence for the claim that chromium is nonfree.

From what I'm aware there was a single incident where chromium
automatically downloaded a nonfree plugin called hotword [1], but that
was in 2015 and after some complains google changed chromium's behavior
and it is no longer downloaded without user's consent.

The linked bugreport talks about a script that tries to identify the
free-ness of a software, and it seems unable to identify all licenses.
That's hardly evidence for chromium being nonfree, it's more likely
that the script is incomplete.
Debian ships a chromium package in their main repository, and they're
generally very sensitive to nonfree code in their packages.

I think if there are concerns about the free'ness of chromium they
should be substantiated. If there is code within chromium that is
nonfree then this should be discussed with the google developers. From
my impression the chromium devs have in the past mostly shown an
interest in using free licenses, so I'd see a high chance of resolving
any issues.

Issues regarding to privacy are imho orthogonal to the free software
state of an application, but they shouldn't pose any blocker to using
the rendering engine.

I'd also want to note that there are good reasons why people want to
move from webkit to the chrome rendering engine. Many applications
using webkit have been stuck with unfixed security vulnerabilities in
the past. The chromium engine is well maintained and generally at the
forefront when it comes to both security and features in the web.
While software freedom is important, it's by far not the only issue
that is important when it comes to software ethics.

[1] https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=786909

Hanno Böck

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