openSUSE, CentOS & Fedora US export regulations
I have seen that Fedora, CentOS, Redhat Enterprise Linux, Oracle Linux, probably other stuff from Oracle such as Solaris, and openSUSE (not so sure about Suse Enterprise - did not check) are subject to the EAR, American Export Administration Regulations. It is not obvious on the openSUSE site, but it is written right at the beginning of the openSUSE installer which says:
This agreement governs your download, installation, or use of openSUSE 15.0 and its updates, regardless of the delivery mechanism. openSUSE 15.0 is a collective work under US Copyright Law. Subject to the following terms, The openSUSE Project grants to you a license to this collective work pursuant to the GNU General Public License version 2. By downloading, installing, or using openSUSE 15.0, you agree to the terms of this agreement.
And then if you scroll below you will see this:
You acknowledge that openSUSE 15.0 is subject to the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (the “EAR”) and you agree to comply with the EAR. You will not export or re-export openSUSE 15.0 directly or indirectly, to: (1) any countries that are subject to US export restrictions; (2) any end user who you know or have reason to know will utilize openSUSE 15.0 in the design, development or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or rocket systems, space launch vehicles, and sounding rockets, or unmanned air vehicle systems, except as authorized by the relevant government agency by regulation or specific license; or (3) any end user who has been prohibited from participating in the US export transactions by any federal agency of the US government. By downloading or using openSUSE 15.0, you are agreeing to the foregoing and you are representing and warranting that You are not located in,under the control of, or a national or resident of any such country or on any such list. In addition, you are responsible for complying with any local laws in Your jurisdiction which may impact Your right to import, export or use openSUSE 15.0. Please consult the Bureau of Industry and Security web page www.bis.doc.gov before exporting items subject to the EAR. It is your responsibility to obtain any necessary export approvals.
If any provision of this agreement is held to be unenforceable, that will not affect the enforceability of the remaining provisions. This agreement will be governed by the laws of the State of Utah and of the US, without regard to any conflict of laws provisions, except that the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods will not apply.
In the openSUSE license is said that openSUSE is subject to the "EAR" and that he agreement will be governed by the laws of the US and the State of Utah. Novell, one of the companies associated with openSUSE is a company from Provo, Utah. The other thing is that SUSE GMBH is a company based in Germany, they are the company behind openSUSE and Suse Enterprise and now both Novell and SUSE GMBH, belong to Microfocus International which is based in Britain, not in the US. It is very odd in my opinion that Suse and openSUSE would still be subject to the "EAR" and also subject to the laws of Utah.
Now when it comes to Fedora and CentOS, the agreement is still there, but the wording of the agreement is softer. The wording of the agreement is the same in both distros.
You to have scroll low to see the EAR agreement, it is not immediately obvious, and it is written in very low case letters. The same thing is in CentOS, but not found in another Redhat Enterprise Linux clone, called Scientific Linux.
In CentOS: https://www.centos.org/download/
In both CentOS and Fedora, the agreement is downplayed in a sense sort of and it is not visible unless you scroll below and kinda dig for it in their websites. And the wording is softer; Notice: "it may be subject to the EAR" in both CentOS and Fedora.
In Ubuntu, Manjaro and Debian there is no such agreement and they are not based in the US. Debian is kind of a global distro, not related to a country or a company. Oracle instead goes the extra length to verify that you are not from one of the forbidden countries if you want to download and test drive Oracle Linux for example. You can see this when you sign up for an Oracle account and then try to download Oracle. Most likely you will have to wait for your request to be approved and verified that you are not in the list of the forbidden persons and forbidden countries.
Interestingly enough, Russian distributions such as Rosa Linux and Alt Linux have a different kind of license. They say that they are subject to the law of the Russian federation but that's it. And their code is available in the GPL license, with no export or use restrictions whatsoever.
Some interesting facts
Provo, Utah, where Novell is based, is predominantly Mormon/LDS. Linux is more popular in Utah than in many other American states. Redhat is based in North Karolina, a predominantly Baptist state. Just check in wikipedia Provo, Utah, Novell, Redhat, and Raleigh North Carolina. Oracle is the company of Larry Ellison. Larry Ellison is the guy who said that Snowden was a traitor, and the NSA did not harm to anybody and also that you have no privacy, deal with it.
Being very familiar with the LDS church, I know that they have a political agenda in the United States. One of the main NSA information collection centers is built in Utah.
So another most important question is, is free and open source computer technology, most especially GNU/Linux systems, immune from the ideological and political chambers of countries and companies? Is it always a technology that anybody can use, without the fear of being dependent on someone who has an agenda to follow and force the use of the product to conform with this agenda?
In regard to the license, I am not a fan of building weapons of mass destruction but using the distros for flying objects is forbidden? Building your own drone software on openSUSE is forbidden?
It also seems in fairness that Fedora and CentOS downplay this license restriction and probably placed it there for fear of a legal reprisal and that on the other hand openSUSE places it at the very beginning of installation without the user knowing beforehand. I find the Fedora way of doing this, more ethical than that of openSUSE.
I still find Debian to be the most ethical distro. I do not find it always the most practical, but it is one of the few distros also which took the effort to release the libre kernel, the kernel without non-free firmware, and I find Debian more usable than FSF approved distros. It is also written in the Debian and Ubuntu sites, that there should be no discrimination against people and also against fields of endeavor. Just check the Debian social contract and the Ubuntu website.
I have used all distros mentioned here, I have been a long time openSUSE user, Fedora user. I like them all, but found openSUSE to be the most practical, for me. Yet due to this license I do not feel comfortable installing and using openSUSE anymore. I also understand that Fedora and CentOS being US based have to put this notice on their sites and I do not believe that Fedora and CentOS are unethical. But their software is under US control which in this case does not give me the freedom to use it anyway I like, such as making drones on that software. Not that I can or intend to, but if I want to promote a product in my non-us country, I want to choose something that gives us full freedom in our computing.
Please give your opinion on this matter, thanks for reading.
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