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Re: more evil firmwares found

Stephen Ryan wrote:

> On Mon, 2004-04-12 at 20:10, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> ...
>> May I repeat that all of the hardware on two different recent machines in
>> this house runs *without* requiring non-free firmware downloads?
> Is there a point to your bragging?  (You've said that like 4 times in
> the past hour.)
It's not supposed to be bragging.

>  Or are you volunteering to buy the rest of us some cool
> hardware like that?
And it's not that cool, either.  :-)

(a) Nobody seems to be *listening*; they keep saying "Everyone will need
this firmware!".
(b) I didn't pick *any* of this stuff with an eye to avoiding non-free
firmware; it's a completely random sample.
(c) It's all fairly cheap.

Therefore, I think the people who keep saying "Most people will need this
firmware!" are smoking crack or something.

> Personally, I find it rather odd that there's this tempest in a teapot
> over a couple of pieces of firmware when there are far larger matters,
Yeah, I think it's odd too.  Of course, I'm beginning to see a pattern: when
non-free stuff is found, some people go "Oh dear -- we must remove that." 
Some people go "Well, *this* non-free stuff is *so important* that we
should keep it in main, because Debian will be *useless* without it, and
besides, it shouldn't have to follow the DFSG because it's in thus-and-such
a category."

This happens no matter what gets found, and then an argument ensues over
whether it really is so important, and whether it really shouldn't have to
follow the DFSG.  :-P  I think the only single item which everyone agrees
is so important that Debian would be useless without it -- but has freeness
issues -- is the text of the GPL. ;-)

> like, say, the non-free GFDL materials or, say, a release to tend to.
> And just to forestall the inevitable: the GFDL is a larger problem
> because:
Well, I agree.  Of course, various people have claimed that the GFDL isn't
really a problem (while still claiming to understand and follow the Social

> - The copyright holders have explicitly withheld permission for certain
> modifications.  The copyright holders of some of the firmwares in
> question have implicitly granted permission to modify by releasing under
> the GPL, they just haven't made it convenient.
> - There are only a handful of people in the entire world who could do
> anything with the firmware in the first place; there are orders of
> magnitude more who could do something useful with the documentation,
> were it not released under a non-free license.
> - The practical effects of having to use an unmodifiable firmware are
> small; the worst is that a driver may have to work around a bug.  The
> practical effects of not having modifiable documentation are huge; the
> best case is that the documentation continues to be obtuse and hard to
> find (hint: good documentation would be available integrated with most
> applications; the GFDL makes that generally impossible).

Make sure your vote will count.

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