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Re: Non-free package licenses and replacements

This message concerns the mwavem package.

Mathieu Roy wrote:
> [mwavem]
> This package purpose was to provide in debian support for soundcards
> shipped by IBM in some thinkpad (like 600E). IBM freed the code some
> years ago and it is included in linux kernel since the late versions
> of the 2.4. 
> I'm not sure there is still a point in distributing this package.

IBM released both a driver and a userspace support program.  Both
of these are included in the upstream tarball.  The _driver_
has since been integrated into Linux proper.  Hence, the _driver_
portion of the tarball is obsolete.  However, the userspace support
program is still required.

The mwavem Debian package contains this userspace support program
and is thus not obsolete.

Marco d'Itri wrote:
> mwavem: free driver, but it contains a binary firmware executed
> by the device CPU. If there is a consensus on the hypocrisy of
> refusing to distribute firwmares then I think removing the files
> and keeping the driver in main is the best solution.

The userspace support program is free software.

Shipped with the userspace support program is a set of DSP binaries
that get uploaded to the chip.  No source code is available for
these.  Consequently they are DFSG non-free.  Consequently the
package is in the non-free section of the archive.

Some people are of the opinion that non-free firmware shouldn't
disqualify a package from being included in main.  (See #192270
for more information.)  The issue doesn't matter very much so
long as Debian continues to support the non-free section of the

IBM released the whole package under the GPL, apparently without
noticing that this license doesn't suit the DSP binaries.  
Nevertheless, the clear intention was for these binaries to be
freely distributable, and that is all that is needed for Debian
to distribute them (via non-free).  I have contacted IBM seeking
further clarification.

By the way, I am preparing a new release of the mwavem package based
on upstream tarball version 1.0.4.
Thomas Hood <jdthood@yahoo.co.uk>

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