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Re: more evil firmwares found

On Mon, Apr 12, 2004 at 08:26:39PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> Martin Loschwitz wrote:
> > On Mon, Apr 12, 2004 at 03:54:21PM +0100, Henning Makholm wrote:
> >> Scripsit Norbert Tretkowski <tretkowski@inittab.de>
> >> > * Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> >> 
> >> > > Most people do not care whether their software is free or not.
> >> > > Debian does.
> >> 
> >> > Thus Debian shouldn't run on hardware which requires non-free binary
> >> > firmware?
> >> 
> >> False. We have nothing against people running non-free software on
> >> their machines, and we explicitly pledge to support those people.
> >> 
> > May I remind you of the social contract, article 4? "Our Priorities are
> > Our Users and Free Software" is what it says. Actually, if we remove all
> > those drivers from kernel which need binary firmware files, it is probable
> > that outta there, many users won't be able to install Debian because the
> > driver for their IDE-Controller/NIC/Whatsoever is not available but they
> > need it to do virtually anything with their computer.
> May I repeat that I have two fairly new computers in this house which do not
> require non-free "firmware" downloads?  There are hardware alternatives
> which don't require the "firmware" downloading for nearly *all* of this
> stuff; the best example Marco could come up with was DVB boards, which is a
> fairly obscure and inessential area which until recently wasn't supported
> by Linux at all.  People claimed DSL modems, but turned out to be wrong
> (there are black-box ethernet-bridge implementations).
There are many other cases where this can happen. The tigon3-driver for
example needs a firmware file to work -- and tigon3 boards are _common_
nowadays as they are sold with all those mainboard which have GBit LAN
onboard (mainly broadcom bcm5700 cards). Also some WLAN-Cards like the
prism54-chipsets need a firmware file. And it's well possible that some
user out there would like to install a debian system via such a prism54

> > In the end, the user
> > has to install some other distribution and has no chance for Debian at
> > all. _If *this*_ is what you call "Our Priorities are Our Users", there's
> > a strong disagreement between the two of us ...
> "Debian will Remain 100% Free Software".  Article *1* of the Social
> Contract, which comes *first*.  Also, "Our Priorities are Our Users *and
> Free Software*".  Distributing non-free software in main may help some
> users -- I think most people will agree that it does *not* help the cause
> of Free Software.
You must be one of those who yelled at non-free and collapsed when they
saw the outcome of the GR ... Well, okay. We are Debian, not Richard M.
Stallman inc. and although one of our main interests is to aid FOSS, we
also have users whose needs we need to obey. Don't believe that this "
We have open source drivers but closed source firmware" thingie is only
relevant for some exotic hardware; infact, it will become more and more
popular. And keep in mind that today, hardly any computer will work
completely without non-free software (or do _you_ have the source for
your mainboard's BIOS?).

> > The choices are quite easy: Keep those drivers in kernel and make users
> > able to install Debian so that they *can* benefit from Debian or throw
> > the drivers out and send the users to SuSE, RedHat or something else.
> To paraphrase John Hasler's reductio ad absurdum argument:
> The choices are quite easy: Put everything we have the ability to distribute
> (Netscape, PovRay, etc.) in main, and make users who care about those
> things willing to use Debian, and therefore able to benefit from it, or
> throw non-free stuff out and send the users to SuSE, RedHat or something
> else.
I have no idea who John Hasler is; if you like to, please introduce me to
him once the three of us meet. You do not get the dimension of the problem.
If somebody switches to RedHat or SuSE because we do not provide netscape
or some such, he does that because he was not satisfied with what Debian 
gave him *after* he tried it. If he can not even install Debian and thus 
switches to SuSE or RedHat, we did something wrong because we kept him
away from testing Debian and enjoy it with all its free software. This,
by the way, will slowly lead to Debian becoming less and less popular ...

> > As member of the Debian Desktop Subproject, it is my strong believe that
> > in order to achieve the social contract, we do not have a choice other
> > than keeping all those drivers in the kernel.
> Of course, in order to achieve the Social Contract, you have no choice other
> than removing those non-free things from "main", because "Debian will
> remain 100% Free Software".  (One alternative is to amend the Social
> Contract, or otherwise pass a GR delineating exceptions to it.)  So I
> assume you want to move the kernel to non-free, and because the rest of the
> software in Debian requires a kernel, you want to move *all* of Debian to
> non-free?
You should stop to try to interprete the sentences I wrote myself for me;
you repeatedly failed terribly. Indeed the Social Contract has a loophole
here; if we keep out non-free firmware files for hardware, in future this
will lead to less and less people using Debian. And without users, the
Social contract can be put into a trashcan anyway. We have the choce: 
insist on not violating the Social Contract (for which it is too late
already as people repeatedly pointed out only in this thread) or find
a sensible solution that does not only fulfill §1 of SC while completely
ignoring the first part of §4.

> Or maybe you just want to ignore or misinterpret the sentence
> "Debian will remain 100% Free Software".  That means "nothing but Free
> Software", by the way.
> >> What we should not do is distribute the non-free firmware in the
> >> archive where we promise not to distribute non-free software.
> > What we should not do is to punish users for wanting to use Debian with
> > throwing drivers they *need* away.
> If they want them, they can get them by installing their own upstream
> kernel.  
No Sir, they can _not_ install their own kernel without even having installed
a base system.

> They're *NOT FREE SOFTWARE*.  
No need to yell; I get your point anyway.

> It is not Debian's mission to ship anything and everything users "need" 
> regardless of whether it's free software.  
If a large majority _needs_ something in order to being able to only _install_
Debian then indeed it _is_ our duty to ship it because everything else would
massively violate SC §4.

> (Incidentally, "need" really means "want" here; after all, nobody "needs" 
> a computer!)  
Of course people need computers. Without computers, you wouldn't even have
food in your fridge I bet. The idea of having drivers with binary firmware
files will -- as already mentioned at least twice -- become more and more
common in next few years and if we want our users to be able to use Debian,
we won't have much of a choice really.

> If non-free "firmware" software is allowed into Debian *without* a GR, you 
> might as well introduce packages containing non-free software for other 
> interesting "peripheral devices" such as m68k and i386 machines.
Okay, so let's have a deal: If you demand a General Resolution for having
firmware drivers in kernel, I demand a General Resolution for dropping the
first part of §4 from social contract (because if you can easily keep users
away from installing Debian due to missing kernel drivers, why should one
not be able to just remove virtually anything without giving a damn about
the Social Contract?)

> -- 
> Make sure your vote will count.
> http://www.verifiedvoting.org/

  .''`.   Martin Loschwitz           Debian GNU/Linux developer
 : :'  :  madkiss@madkiss.org        madkiss@debian.org
 `. `'`   http://www.madkiss.org/    people.debian.org/~madkiss/
   `-     Use Debian GNU/Linux 3.0!  See http://www.debian.org/

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