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Re: Preparing linux-2.6 2.6.18-1


On Wed, Sep 20, 2006 at 06:16:32PM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 20, 2006 at 03:38:50PM +0200, Frederik Schueler wrote:
> > Second: this release contains ALL binary firmware blobs shipped 
> > upstream, even those we kept pruning since the day Herbert Xu removed 
> > them the first time in 2004. 
> What in the world?  Why would you do that anyway?

because removing firmwares without an adequate alternative means not
considering the needs of our users which rely on these firmware blobs 
to run their hardware, and thus IMHO conflicts with section 4 of the 
social contract.

> Neither is introducing regressions in the freeness of our kernel packages
> relative to sarge. 

pruning the firmware without an alternative was wrong in the first
place, this step just fixes that error.

> Indeed, taking such a step is likely to lead many voters
> to think that the only way to prevent the kernel team from filling our
> kernel packages with as much non-free code as they can stuff into it is by
> voting down any GRs that would relax our stance on firmware.  *THAT* would
> cause release delays.

This would be a gross overreaction, and if this happens, I will opt for
moving linux-2.6 to non-free until the firmware issue is sorted out 
*completely* with upstream and the hardware vendors.

We need to find a balance between the needs of our users and free software. 
Ripping non-free bits out is wrong, as long as there are no alternatives, 
and keeping non-free stuff in main without working on a real alternative 
is of course wrong too.

But, with the firmware-nonfree package, we have already started to work on 
it, although things have to go through upstream.

basically, the solution looks as follows, for every single
firmware-needing driver:

- best case, the firmware source is fully disclosed and relicensed in a
  DFSG compatible way.

- worst case, the firmware is licensed as distributable in non-free, and
  the driver loads it from userspace. 

this means: vendors need to be contacted and convinced to relicense
and disclose the sources, alternatively those "non-distributable" blobs
need to be relicensed, and for all drivers needing non-free firmwares a 
patch has to be written, which must be of such a good quality that 
upstream accepts it. 

This way, the firmware issue is solved for the free software community
as a whole, and not only for Debian.

> > If the release and debian-installer teams don't object, we will upload 
> > an unpruned linux-2.6 2.6.18-1 to unstable today.
> I do object to the un-pruning of non-free material from the kernel packages
> without giving the project a chance first to consider how this changes the
> status wrt the DFSG.  In particular, this totally undermines any claim that
> Debian is asymptotically approaching DFSG compliance in its releases.

This is why we wanted to wait for the GR outcome, but looking at -vote I
guess we will delay the release considerably if we do so.

Best regards
Frederik Schueler


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