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Re: Bug#239952: kernel-source-2.6.4: qla2xxx contains non-free firmware

On Thu, 25 Mar 2004, Herbert Xu wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 25, 2004 at 01:45:22AM +0100, Adrian Bunk wrote:
> > It seems the following files of the qla2xxx driver contain non-free
> > firmware:
> I presume you're objecting to these firmware on the basis that they
> are being distributed as machine code.
> I personally find this attitude to be extreme. 

It seems rather clear that those "source" files are just machine code
for the device firmware, and as such, are not the prefered form for

That pretty much precludes the linking of that code with the rest of
the kernel and/or forming a derivative work of the kernel and our
distribution of such a resultant work, well before we even get into
the DFSG §2 discussion.[1]

> I would like the opinion of all Debian developers on the general
> issue of firmware in the kernel-source package.

What is upstream's opinion on this issue?

Are they even aware of the conflict that they are brewing by
distributing the code in this manner?

[I know the FSF's interpretation of the GPL on this issue is fairly
clear, but I'm not aware of a cogent set of analysis on this issue by
Linus or any of the other major kernel developers.]

> I recall that when this issue was first raised with the keyspan
> drivers, some of the people advocating their removal promised to
> modify the drivers so that the firmware could be loaded from
> userspace

I don't know if that's really a reasonable solution. Perhaps just
removing these drivers from the upstream kernel source and migrating
them to a separate package in non-free would be a workable solution?
[Obviously, the optimal solution would be to have the upstream
developers get qlogic to release the assembler or whatever it is
required to build the firmware.[2]]

> I'm deliberately avoiding debian-legal as the inhabitants there tend
> to have views that are not necessarily representative of the project
> as a whole.

That may be, but they often tend to have a bit more experience in
struggling with the licensing issues encompassed by distributing
material that is not available in the prefered form for modification
in a GPLed work. As such, I've added -legal to the Cc: list.

Don Armstrong

1: Which, again, is seemingly pretty straight forward, seeing as it's
quite definetly not source.
2: I really hope these devices aren't quite so braindead as to not
work at all if they don't have the firmware loaded by the
driver... but then again, hardware designers never cease to depress
"The question of whether computers can think is like the question of
whether submarines can swim."
 -- Edsgar Dijkstra


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