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Re: New summary: Binary peripheral software

Nathanael Nerode <neroden@twcny.rr.com> wrote:
>> 3. Binary peripheral software is DFSG-non-free.
>>    We distribute it in main because users can't do without it.
> Seems like I've heard this.  Is this Herbert Xu's view?


My view on this issue itself resembles 4 most closely.  However,
I only accept its plan of action with great reluctance.

My order of preference for how this should be resolved are as follows:

1. Move all kernel packages to non-free.

This pays homage both to our commitment to free software as well as
our users' needs.

Moving only the drivers affected to non-free is beyond my capacity.
Someone else will have to invest the time and energy to create such
a package and keep it up-to-date.

Unfortunately I fear that this is too politically incorrect to be
viable.  I'd love to be proven wrong though.

2. Modify the Social Contract so that we can keep the firmware along
with the drivers in main.

As a pragmatist on these issues I have no problem with admitting the
short-comings of free software at this point in time.

However I doubt this will ever get the numbers required judging from
the previous GR results.

3. Delete the affected drivers as they're reported.  Stop supporting
any drivers that contain binary firmware that may get them removed
should someone report them.

Although this will inconvenience many of our users, this is the only
course of action that I find to be viable at this point in time.

The reason that I'm stopping any support for these drivers even if
I don't remove them straight away is that I do not wish to spend
time to investigate/fix issues only for that effort to be rendered
useless when the driver is removed from main when someone reports them
for containing non-free firmware.

The reason that I'm not removing them straight away is a feeble
attempt on my part to minimise the effect on our users.  I know
quite a number of other drivers that are affected by this issue.
No I won't be telling you where they are.  If you want them all
to be removed, you'll have to find them yourselves and report

To start with, the drivers that have been reported so far are
drivers/scsi/qla2xxx and drivers/net/tg3.  They will both be
removed in the next release of the relevant packages.

If you don't like this do not hesitate to contact the Technical
Committee about it.  I'd love to see a ruling by them on this

>> 6. Binary peripheral software is DFSG-non-free and, if GPLed,
>>    not even distributable in non-free because the preferred
>>    form for making modifications is not provided.
>>    We don't distribute it at all.
> Um, yeah, this is my view as well, combined with 4.

I find this view to be pedantic.  Even though I have no legal training
whatsoever, surely companies like RedHat/Suse would have sought legal
advice on this since this issue has been around for many years.
Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 is out! ( http://www.debian.org/ )
Email:  Herbert Xu ~{PmV>HI~} <herbert@gondor.apana.org.au>
Home Page: http://gondor.apana.org.au/~herbert/
PGP Key: http://gondor.apana.org.au/~herbert/pubkey.txt

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