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Re: more evil firmwares found

Daniel Jacobowitz wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 12, 2004 at 08:05:33PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
>> Joey Hess wrote:
>> <snip>
>> > From the perspective of wanting to get a release out, with a working
>> > installer, this is a collossal pain. Some of the drivers that are
>> > already being removed[1], such as tg3, are amoung the ones most
>> > commonly used. At a minimum this will mean much wasted time on the part
>> > of the debian-installer team explaining to users that support for these
>> > devices is no longer part of Debian. (I hope you don't mind if we
>> > forward all such correspondance to this mailing list..) At the worst,
>> > it will delay the release of sarge by weeks or months as we design and
>> > put together an new infastructure to support non-free drivers in the
>> > installer.

For the 2.6 kernel (only), here's a simple-minded system.

Add to the driver floppies a 'non-free firmware' floppy.  The non-free
firmware floppy contains files which are copied
to /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware/* on the running installation system and are
also copied to the target system.  These can be wrapped in udebs which can
be loaded from a driver floppy, probably in the same manner as the existing
extra drivers.  The udebs could probably be written entirely in shell and
would be tiny.  The drivers would, of course, be rewritten to use userland
firmware loading (now that I've looked into it, I could probably do a
driver a day if I wasn't doing anything else; of course I can't test them
because I don't have any of that hardware).

(I am assuming that the installer can boot, set up its ramdisk, communicate
with the console, and read from a floppy before any of these drivers are
necessary.  If it can't, you have much bigger problems.)

> It will be very disappointing and de-motivating to us if,
>> > after all our hard work, the resulting installer is unusable because it
>> > supports less hardware then does woody's.
>> It wouldn't be unusable; it still supports all of *my* hardware.
>> *sigh*
> That statement supports Joey's point quite well, IMO.
> It wouldn't be unusable to *you*, as the one arguing.  We can tell that
> by now.  But it would be unusable to a large number of our *other*
> *users*.
In Joey's statement, he appeared to be using "unusable" to mean "Not usable
*at all*"; he didn't qualify it by saying "unusable for some people".  It
will be unusable for some people *anyway*.  If people are arguing about
number of users, then I suppose we should go ahead and remove all non-free
binary blobs for "unpopular" hardware.  If you must make it usable for the
maximum number of people, you should include the non-free NVIDIA drivers.

I actually agree that as long as sarge is releasing "soon" -- and is already
going to be full of non-free stuff -- there's no point in dealing with this
for sarge, and it should instead be dealt with for sarge+1; the transition
pains should be spread out, not stuffed all right before release.  (Of
course, it's obnoxious that nobody "noticed" these freeness problems until

I strongly disagree with the idea that Debian should just contain non-free
"firmware" software for the indefinite future.

(Of course, sarge should have a warning label: "This release of Debian is
known to be full of non-free software.  Wait for the next release if you
want a release which we tried to make 100% Free Software."  But given that
hypocrisy about this appears to be alive and well in the Debian Project, I
don't expect anyone will agree to attach such a warning.)

Make sure your vote will count.

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