[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: On firmwares

On Mon, May 10, 2004 at 09:58:07AM +0200, A Mennucc wrote:
> Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> >Marco d'Itri wrote:
> >>Refusing to distribute binary firmwares does not help free software.
> >>You may choose between getting the firmware with your hardware on a
> >>flash EPROM chip or having your driver load it, but at the end of the
> >>day you will still use some software whose source code is not
> >>available. If removing binary firmwares from debian makes using free
> >>software harder for our user then it harms the free software cause.
> >
> >The *only* problem with this argument is that it applies to infinite loads
> >of other stuff.  Slippery slope and all that.
> >
> The opposite argument is "slippery" as well.
> You see, 'firmware' is the link between 'software' and 'hardware'.
> If we label 'firmware' as 'non-free' stuff, and delete it from the main 
> kernel, then the next logical step is 'hardware'.
> Next, a free software zealot will come out asking that free software 
> should run only on free hardware, that is, hardware whose specs (and 
> maybe blueprints) are open for anybody to know. I really don't want to 
> slip into this kind of arguments.

But how much of this hardware is distributed by Debian?  We're discussing
what Debian should distribute within it's hallowed FTP servers, not what's
good for the larger world.  A "free software zealot" who truly advocates
only running free software on free hardware isn't being very free about
their software.

> Consider also that there is firmware in most hw: hard disks, cd/dvd-rw, 
> mice, cameras, etc etc.
> So there is free-sw-philosophy question here: some of this firmware is 
> burnt inside by the factory, some is not, it is uploaded by the kernel.  
> Do we rule it all as 'non-free' ? So why do we accept the first but not 
> the second?

We accept software in hardware because Debian doesn't distribute it. 
Similarly, a lot of us accept the use of Windows because Debian doesn't
distribute it.  It's that simple.  WE ARE ONLY TALKING ABOUT WHAT DEBIAN

- Matt

Reply to: