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Re: Debian on Pine64 H64B?

On 2021.09.07 13:31, Reco wrote:
Yet there's a difference. Intel ME or AMD PSP do not require firmware to
be written on a boot media, thus making the boot media redistributable
and (other blobs excluded) - DFSG-compliant.

I disagree.

The reason why the firmware needs to be written on boot media is because the system was designed *NOT* to have its boot firmware on SPI flash.

So that's a pure design issue.

For instance, if the PI 4 SPI was large enough to accommodate the 3 MB we need, we would happily run UEFI (and the proprietary blobs) from there, instead of boot media.

But the system was designed to be as cheap as possible, and therefore, to spare the cost of flash, with the result of requiring uses to provide firmware from the boot media.

If you want to be pedantic about what constitute free vs non-free according to whether the manufacturer of the system took provisions for firmware blobs to reside on SPI flash or on a different media, be my guest. But, in my view, there is no difference there, as it's just a matter of someone deciding from where the firmware files should be booted.

Heck, if you want to go that way, what do you make of a Pi system where the firmware blobs reside on a small SD card, that acts as an SPI flash equivalent, and the system is installed on a different media (e.g USB, which is what would typically be used, especially on the Pi 4, as it is *much* faster that SD anyway)? Does that not qualify as a DSFG compliant? Because that's already completely possible for the Raspberry Pi if you want to go that route.

In the case of the Raspberry Pi 3 (unsure about RPi 4) it's required to
have non-free Broadcom blobs in the first partition of SD card.

And nobody forces you to use the SD card where the non-free blobs reside to also be your Debian boot media, so you can consider it the same as you would consider as SPI flash on a PC, i.e. orthogonal to Debian and its installation process.

The resulting media for Raspberry Pi 3 is non-DFSG compliant

Again, I'd like to hear where you draw the line for a system where the user set up an SD card with the firmware and is installing Debian on USB.

each and every file on a media that's used to boot is within the scope
of Debian.

Not sure how you reach that conclusion, with which I completely disagree.

Or it cannot be provided by Debian officially.

Where is the part where Debian has to provide non-free blobs here?

There's two parts to this:
1. The Pi boot process, just like *any other modern boot process* requires the use of non free blobs *before* the execution of the Debian bootloaders and kernel. 2. The design of the Raspberry Pi *currently* requires that these non-free blobs are provided on the boot media instead of some SPI flash, as commonly found on other systems.

Considering that, even if we want to go that way, there is nothing in the above that mandates that Debian and non-free blobs should reside on the same media, if that's what you have an objection with, and one again, since it's very much possible to split the pre Debian boot process and Debian boot into completely separate media if you want to be that much of a purist, I see nothing that prevents Debian from providing an official installation media... which they actually already do in the form of the vanilla ISO anyway.

I did not meant that. But I can compare Raspberry Pi to, say, kirkwood
subarch (QNAP TS series), where all you need to boot is a free software
without exceptions, starting with the bootloader.

Yes, there we can be pedant as to what system is more free than some other because users (rather than manufacturers, through an SPI flash) have to be the ones dealing with non-free blobs.

I'm all for free software (heck, if I have the choice, you're not going to see me touch non-free even with a 10 feet pole), but when the constraints of where the non-free blobs have to reside is imposed by the design of the system, and, from a bird's eye view, it doesn't technically matter whether these blobs are provided from SPI flash or from the user on their boot media, since they exist regardless, I fully disagree with the idea that because the user have to dispense the non-free blobs manually on one system, whereas this is done automatically on another, the Debian situation with the Pi when booting in UEFI mode is any different than the situation with x86 PC when booting in UEFI mode, especially as, again, if you want to be a purist, you can dedicate an SD card to the UEFI firmware, just as you would have a dedicated flash UEFI on PC, and never ever have to touch proprietary blobs in your Debian installation media.

Or to put it more succinctly, don't mistaken convenience, through a logical *request* that users manually place mandatory non-free blobs on the same media as the one they will use for Debian installation, so as they don't have to add a separate media to the mix, for absolute requirement.

But still, if [1] haven't stalled - all this discussion we're having
today would be pointless.

It's already pointless when modern x86 does make use of non free blobs just like the Pi does, and that we're simply disputing whether them residing in SPI rather than on a boot media (which, one last time, can be kept entirely separate from the Debian boot media if you want) somehow makes the Debian installation process on Pi suddenly more "non-free" than on PC.

If you run anything on a modern PC, you already have to accept non-free during your free OS installation. So the situation on Pi is no different, even if it's up to the user rather than the manufacturer to provide the non-free blobs and if, *for convenience*, you may want to have them on the same boot media as the one you will install Debian with.

Now, that does not mean that I wouldn't mind seeing [1] happen to get a completely free system, especially in the price range of the Pi. But I really don't see how the location where non-free blobs that are required for Debian boot ultimately reside has an impact on whether such and such boot media can be recommended for Debian installation. Debian are NOT being requested to produce the media with the non-free blobs here, or even to make these blobs available to Pi users in a non-free repository. I simply happens that, because of the design of the system, and because the Pi does not yet accommodate a flash large enough to hold a UEFI firmware, and unless they want to juggle two separate media, users are requested to add the free Debian software on top of the non-free firmware blobs required for system boot.



> [1] https://github.com/christinaa/rpi-open-firmware

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