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TG3 firmware report...


I'm writing regarding the issue of inclusion of TG3 binary firmware in
the Debian-distributed Linux post-2.6.5 kernels.  I understand this
has been a contentious topic, and I've read most of the mailing list
archives on it, so I'm not trying to restart the debate, but merely
adding some additional information, which might not be widely know.
Clearly, the TG3 firmware is still distributed with the upstream Linux
kernel tarballs, yet removed (post-2.6.5) from Debian distributed
kernels for reasons of DFSG guidelines.

Much of the debate of this removal has surfaced around the fact that
most Broadcom chipsets work fine without the firmware inclusion, and,
at worst, possibly simply lose some of their more advanced features.

Unfortunately, I believe that my server board contains one of the rare
on-board Broadcom chipsets that is completely unable to function (best
as I can tell), without downloading this firmware, or without at least
disabling the download of it... In other words, it works perfectly
with 2.4.26, but not at all with 2.6.8.  It's recognized fine, get's
IP address fine, has kernel modules loaded etc., but simply drops
packets off the stack...

My chipset is the Broadcom 5705 (not nearly as popular as the 5704,
etc.), but included onboard in the only motherboard that offers a
single Opteron processor---namely the Tyan Tomcat K8S---which I think
is a wonderful board for certain economical uses where dual processor
Opteron capability is overkill.

Anyway, just thought I'd see what people think of this, and how the
Debian community wants to proceed.  Is there some way to enable
compability with this without downloading the firmware and violating
the DFSG?


PS Please cc: me on replies.  Also, unfortunately, for various
reasons, I don't currently have access to my Tomcat K8S board to test
any options with the Broadcom 5705 chipset... :(

Daniel A. Freedman <freedman@physics.cornell.edu>, Graduate Fellow
  Electronic Structure Calculations, LASSP, Cornell University

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