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Re: Social Contract: Practical Implications

developer list wrote:
> Questions:
> 1. I was under the impression that firmware leads to better performance.
> Is this true?
Sometimes.  In the cases which have been looked at, it's a "works/not works"
situation, often.

> 2. If 1. is true, then will removing the bits of firmware from the kernel
> lead to degraded performance of, for example, graphics cards?
In some cases, yes; for instance, removing the radeon firmware entirely
would disable 3d acceleration for the Radeon cards.

> 3. Are there other features, besides firmware, whose performance will be
> effected adversely by the strict adherence to "free" envisioned by the
> social contract?
Yes.  For instance, NVIDIA cards will be supported with a slow driver which
only supports some cards and some features, rather than NVIDIA's more
full-featured and faster binary-only driver.  Sun's Java will not be
available in Debian; instead only the flaky-on-non-i386 Kaffe, incomplete
GCJ, etc. will be available.

Admittedly, those were deliberate choices on my part to point out what the
issue is.

> Leading Questions:
> 1. If there is a degradation of performance, is anyone thinking of
> establishing an alternate path through the archives, using apt-get,
> where, for example, kernel packages with firmware would be placed in
> non-free and would be available by configuring the apt-get
> appropriately?
Oh, of course.  I was working on some non-free firmware packages.  There
would be ones for the radeon and r128 firmware except that I'm not
comfortable that there's actually a valid license to distribute them.

> 2. Is there a movement to establish a relaxed Debian distribution, with
> an independent archive that is maintained to be as close as possible to
> the ideal Debian archive, but where performance is given equal weight to
> strict interpretation of "free"?

Not as far as I know.  But you're free to; many places have made
"Debian-plus" distros before and nobody seems to mind.

> This discussion of "free" is a more devisive version of one that I
> remember from a few years ago. My POV has not changed much. If truly free
> software is even close in performance to commercial versions, there would
 You mean "proprietary", not "commercial"?

> simply be no argument about its use. As an exmaple, I point to mozilla.
> During the last conversation, I pointed out that I would use it when it
> was ready for prime time. It's now my default browser. I would suggest
> that this would be a guiding principle. It would mean that Debian would
> never be strictly free, because innovations happen in both the free and
> commercial software communities, and development of free alternatives to
 You mean "proprietary", not "commercial"?

> copyrighted software takes time. Ignoring these innovations would lead
 Most free software is copyrighted; you mean "proprietary"?

> to a strictly free, strictly out of date distribution that would not
> serve the greater linux community. I would argue that it would not even
> serve the Debian community.

So basically, you're advocating dumping the Social Contract.  OK; I bet that
won't be popular, though.

> Art Edwards

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

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