librian: check Debian installations for possible software freedom issues

Initially published at 2009-04-20.

This script runs various checks on the local Debian system to detect, if it has any non-free software installed. It is similar in spirit to vrms (and uses it as one of the sub-checks), but does more and explains what it has found more verbosily.

It is very simple and not perfect at all, which means it could both miss some non-free packages and falsely report as non-free some perfectly free ones. If you need a more reliable guarantee that all the software which you use is free, install one of the completely free GNU/Linux distributions instead of Debian.

Currently, the script marks as possibly problematic:

  • The running kernel, if its version string does not contain libre, fshoppe, gnewsense or trisquel;
  • Any firmware files in /lib/firmware/<kernel version>/;
  • Everything that vrms lists as non-free;
  • The firefox and iceweasel packages;
  • Any packages matching mono-* and libmono*.

Example output

$ librian
* Your kernel ("") has installed some firmware with it.
  The firmware files are:
  Some (or all) of these files could be non-free, e.g. come with no source code.
  Please refer to the website for details.
* "vrms" has detected the following non-free programs on your system:
  Consider using the free alternatives to those programs, or help develop
  such alternatives if there aren't any at the moment.
  The page at may have more info.
* You have the Firefox (or Iceweasel) browser installed.
  Firefox has a repository of extensions which contains some non-free ones.
  It does not warn the user before installing the non-free extensions.
  If you would prefer to exclude the possibility of unknowingly installing
  and using such extensions, consider switching to a GNU-provided Firefox
  derivative called IceCat.
  Its official website is at



After downloading, set the execute permission on the script:

chmod +x librian

Then copy or symlink it to /usr/local/bin/.

You also need to have the following packages installed:

  • findutils
  • grep
  • php5-cli
  • vrms

Install them using the command:

apt-get install findutils grep php5-cli vrms


Just run:


at the terminal. If some issues are found, the explanation will be printed at the console, and if everything is fine, there will be no output.

If you would like a more verbose output (for debugging, mostly), use:

librian -v

en/librian.txt · Last modified: 2009-05-01 14:49 UTC (external edit)