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Re: Rethink about who we (Debian) are in rapid dev cycle of deep learning

On Wed, 2022-01-12 at 19:00 -0500, M. Zhou wrote:

> I've had some discussions with several fellow developers on suggesting Debian
> to buy some GPUs to extend its infrastructures for better GPU support.

Was there a plan for what to use these GPUs for?

Were they needed for driver/other package building/testing?

Were they to be used for libre model training?

> Although my initial thought is to make Debian useful in more areas like GPU
> computing, I finally realized that by accepting new non-free blobs as an
> organization, we are further loosing our core value written on our homepage --
> "a complete free operating system".

This isn't any different to most modern hardware devices, which either
have non-free blobs embedded in them or have non-free blobs uploaded to
them or both. Even worse, server hardware often requires proprietary
software running in userspace to manage parts of the server. The modern
hardware industry does not produce hardware that allows Debian to avoid
dealing with these blobs in some way. GPUs aren't any different here
IMO. Things may change with RISC-V, OpenBMC and other efforts though.

> I predict that the ML-Policy [1] will work as a warning on potential
> issues instead of some practical guidance on packaging

Mostly agreed with this section.

> Based on my interpretation, it means Debian might step aside from the
> world of AI applications to fully exercise software freedom. It's a
> pity but Debian's major role in the whole thing is a solid system.

I think we should simply follow our social contract and guidelines as
usual. Package useful things, but place them in contrib or non-free as
appropriate depending on the situation. Advocate for the release of
libre training data, retraining from scratch, license changes etc.

PS: I note that we already have Toxic Candy models in Debian main.
For example the rnnoise model was trained from proprietary data
but is available in Debian source packages:

$ apt-file search -I dsc rnnoise



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