Get a virtual Richard Stallman

By   |  February 27, 2007

Not sure of the line between free and proprietary software or are you worried that your machine is becoming infested with less-than-free software? Then ask that stalwart of free software Richard Stallman what he thinks. A virtual version of the man, called Virtual Richard M. Stallman (vrms).

This handy, strident, tool comes via Ubuntu Geek and is easily installed on Debian-based systems such as Ubuntu as well as other Linux systems

Once installed, Virtual Richard M. Stallman checks the operating system for non-free software and prints out a list. A quick search of a relatively new Edgy Ubuntu system throws up the following:


Non-free packages installed on laptop

linux-generic Complete Generic Linux kernel
linux-restricted-modules- Non-free Linux 2.6.17 modules on x86_64 generic
linux-restricted-modules- Non-free Linux 2.6.17 modules on x86_64 generic
linux-restricted-modules- Non-free Linux 2.6.17 modules helper script
linux-restricted-modules- Restricted Linux modules for generic kernels

5 non-free packages, 0.5% of 1036 installed packages.

Interesting. At 0.5% I suppose I’m not doing too bad but those pesky modules are a problem. One thing vrms doesn’t do is offer much in the way of explaining exactly why these elements fall foul of virtual Stallman. Turning on the explanation feature (vrms -e) doesn’t help much either.

Reading the manual for vrms offers the following:

This program analyzes the currently-installed package list on a Debian GNU/Linux system, and reports the non-free packages that are currently installed to stdout.

The packages in the non-free tree have restrictions on their use and/or distribution which cause them to fail to meet the terms of the Debian Free Software Guidelines included as part of the Debian Social Contract. However, some are sufficiently useful that their presence is often tolerated by Debian users despite their licensing.

Users can install vrms on Debian-based systems using:

sudo apt-get install vrms

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