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Re: Bug#861263: debian-installer: zfs support

On 05/05/2017, Ben Hutchings <ben@decadent.org.uk> wrote:
> On Fri, 2017-05-05 at 21:40 +0100, Sam Kuper wrote:
>> I am not sure why you say that ZFSonLinux binaries are non-free.
>> Please could you explain?
> I was referring specifically to the binary kernel modules, which have a
> mixture of CDDL and GPLv2 code.  These licences are incompatible so the
> binaries cannot be distribured, thus are non-free.

I see. Thanks for explaining your view.

Eben Moglen's take is more nuanced: "If [Linux kernel copyright
holders] prefer the literal meaning to the equity of the license, the
copyright holders can, at their discretion, object to the distribution
of such combinations. ... If they do not[, then] the equity of the
license will eventually come to be seen as the measuring rod [i.e.
distributions will be legally permissible]." Moglen also notes that
there are, "good reasons for [Linux kernel developers] not to object
[to distribution]".[1]

In other words, right now and for as long as the Linux developers do
not object en masse to the distribution of such binaries, there is
nothing in law to prevent a person from distributing such binaries.
But there *is* a risk that at some point in the future the Linux
developers will raise such an objection. If they do so successfully,
then the binaries would indeed become non-free.

I understand that Debian is erring on the side of caution on this
matter, whereas Canonical is being less cautious and is evidently
hoping the binaries remain legal to distribute.

> That is why
> ZFSonLinux module source is in the 'contrib' section, not 'main'.

Yes, I understand that now from Neil's comment.

Let me rephrase my earlier question again:

Does Debian distribute a Debian Installer that will (either by
default, or at the user's request) install source or binary packages
from no repositories other than "main" and "contrib"? If so, is there
any reason in principle why that installer could not in future be
distributed with the capability to (download and) compile and run ZFS,
and to provide the user with the option to install Debian onto a ZFS
root partition?

[1] https://softwarefreedom.org/resources/2016/linux-kernel-cddl.html

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