Arguments for excluding non-free software from wiki

By not documenting and actively discouraging non-free software in the documentation, which abuses are well known, we protect the user from:

  • Potential advanced malware in the software itself
  • Privacy breaches (imagine a keystroke deanonymizer)
  • Running binaries with unfixable security holes
  • Software that depends on third part servers that amy cause them to give identifying info for payment or logins common with real identity

With non-free the determination to allow documentation would have to be made on a case by case basis. Not only could that be very time consuming, having non-free might incline users to think Whonix developers have given the software the “green light” as far as security/privacy/anonymity i.e. this software is safe to use.


Thread clarification: this is only about the wiki. Pre-installation of non-free software (there’s none) in Whonix by default would be very very unlikely and be discussed in a separate subject.

Obviously we shouldn’t encourage non-free software for common steps all over the wiki. For example kdesudo kwrite or kdesudo mousepad obviously should never be replaced by “kdesudo microsoft-office”. That would be pure insanity.

However, I am not convinced that documentation of non-free software should be totally banned.

This discussion is a good reminder to increase warnings against non-free software in related place in Whonix wiki. For example https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Install_Software is currently missing a discouragement of non-free software. Perhaps using a template or short introduction with link to full section.

Other Libre Software projects (applies to Debian for some of below items) are documenting things like:

  • non-free fonts
  • non-free media formats
  • historically adobe flash
  • wine / play on linux with non-free games
  • non-free file formats / editors

Imagine someone needs something like that in future (a journalist needing to open a non-free file submission) then a blanket ban on how to do it would only lead to the content being posted in the forums (and then we ban it there as well) or to be posted on third party pages where we then are loosing any influence.

Also, I am using Whonix wiki as a personal scratchpad. For example, the https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Wickr was only created by me due to a professional support inquiry. Otherwise I have no interest in Wickr. So I don’t even care to add Wickr to /Documentation. If more unrelated, if more offensive, it could even added the __NOINDEX__ keyword to remove noise from search engine results. However, a unpopoular, difficult to find wiki page shouldn’t be removed only for ideological reasons of going to extremes like “never ever touch non-free software whatsoever”.

Rather, let’s:

  • move non-free software to their own wiki pages
  • clearly mark non-free software as non-free
  • suggest Libre alternatives if available
  • add the proper warning boxes on top of any non-free software mention

Warning boxes:

These might need some adjustments to apply better.

https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Template:Third_Party_Repository description isn’t ideal for software downloaded outside of a software repository (deb).

https://www.whonix.org/wiki/Template:Avoid_nonfree_software is perhaps missing a few of @HulaHoop’s points?

  • clearly mark non-free software as non-endorsement

Someone wanted to make an edit like “the Whonix team is no longer endorsing retroshare”. Which would imply it was ever endorsed. The word “endorse” is like a recommendation. But something in Whonix wiki (like VPN) is not an endorsement. Whonix can do many things. Some things like Tor Browser is recommended but other things are just documented for those who want it. Making such endorsement vs non-endorsement more clear throughout the wiki is also a task.


We had non-free documented prior to this. It looks like this ship sailed a long time ago.


Maybe should have a separate.


I can do that. That is if @HulaHoop would like me to.


By not documenting, users search for information elsewhere. And it is readily available elsewhere, usually without proper warnings.

That’s more like it. I wouldn’t say protecting though, rather “assisting in making a wiser choice”.

I suggest to avoid lengthy boxes such as the one with Richard Stallman’s quote. Too such many boxes create the habit of just skipping them. Instead, keep it simple:

[Box with Orange background]
Warning: non-free software
link: Risks of non-free software
link: Libre alternatives for this software


i support what @HulaHoop and @maximilian1 suggested , remove any non-free suggestion and discussion or …etc in our wiki and instead refer the user to links outside of the wiki or just try to avoid mentioning it as its meaningless to privacy advocated distro + keeping things really simple and focusing on privacy/security related apps/subjects based on free and open source software.

Debian is a good example to follow on software policy.

Sounds reasonable.

1 Like

Please go for it. Thanks @0brand

1 Like

Created new Template.


Added a few of HulaHoops points.


[Imprint] [Privacy Policy] [Cookie Policy] [Terms of Use] [E-Sign Consent] [DMCA] [Contributors] [Investors] [Priority Support] [Professional Support]