Is it on-topic to ask how free/libre/open a certain product is?
While it’s often easy to know for software, it’s typically not so clear for hardware that ships with software. For example, think of a device with software on chips, firmware, drivers, operating systems, libraries, and pre-installed software.
Products are often advertised as being "open source" without going into detail. But it’s rare that this really applies to all software involved (not to speak of the hardware). It can get really hard and complex to get the whole truth.
Example questions (not necessarily good ones, as I didn’t check if the project documentation answers it):
- Purism is advertised as protecting my freedom, and it comes with a libre operating system, but does it contain any proprietary software?
- TERES-A64 is offered as "Open Source Hardware and Software". Is really everything open source?
- Does the (by default inaccessible) Mali-400 GPU in the EOMA68 Libre Tea Computer Card "contain" any proprietary software? (or is it "empty" until a user decides to install a proprietary driver?)
- Are the modem and the boot ROM the only things using proprietary software on the Tehnoetic S2?
- The video game Example licenses the code under a libre license, but the assets are proprietary. Are the assets only static files (like images) or could it also be something like a script?
- Does the Aquaris E5 HD Ubuntu Edition ship with any proprietary apps?
So the idea is:
- Alice wants to buy/use only products that meet her requirements regarding free/libre/open licenses. It could be that she only wants to buy 100 % FLOSS, or that she only wants to buy products that can be run with FLOSS, or that she only wants to buy a smartphone that comes without proprietary apps, or that she only wants to buy a free/libre/open hardware computer mouse.
- Alice has doubts if a certain product meets her requirements. It might be too complex to understand all relevant parts, the documentation might be bad, she might suspect that the project willfully misleads. (In any case, she should ideally point out why she thinks so.)
- Alice comes to the experts on Open Source SE. They aren’t necessarily experts in the specific product, but they know the caveats, the lingo, where to look, what to consider.
- Alice got an answer. She learned if the product meets her requirements. What else regarding the licenses she didn’t think of might be problematic. Why not meeting her requirements might not be so bad after all.