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Re: LCC and blobs

Brian Nelson <pyro@debian.org> writes:

> On Sat, Dec 11, 2004 at 11:50:44AM -0800, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
>> Brian Nelson <pyro@debian.org> writes:
>> > It's a completely inconsistent and arbitrary policy.
>> It's hardly that.  We distribute only free software, that's our rule.
>> The rest, as you say, is for the manufacturer and the user to work
>> out, but we disvalue non-free software, and so we don't distribute it
>> in main.  (And packages which require it go into contrib.)
> The device drivers in question *are* 100% free software!
> You say they should go into contrib because they depend on non-free
> software.  However, *all* device drivers depend on non-free software.
> Why does it matter if that non-free stuff is stored on the device itself
> or is loaded externally?

Because the former works after installing the deb without the user
ever doing anything about firmware. How do you even know there is
firmware? Maybe it is all hardcoded into the chip? Without taking the
hardware apart you can't know. Call me ignorant but what I don't see
does not exist describes perfectly how it should be treated.

In the later case the user actively has to download the firmware from
somewhere and add it to his system. The extra files taints his
filesystems and makes it less free. For example you can't just make a
live CD out of it anymore because the non-free firmware file makes it
not DFSG free.

>> You only see it as inconsistent because you think the relevant
>> consideration is "do we support this hardware", and you don't care how
>> we support it.  
> I didn't say that.  I'm saying we should distribute all free device
> drivers in main because they are free.  Binary blobs are a non-issue.

'because they are free'? That is the first probelmatic point. Are they
free or not. Some people say drivers that don't work are not
free. Personaly I don't see anything in the DFSG (and common free
licenses) saying things have to work, quite the opposite.

But you are right that as much as possible should be in main.
Seperating out the firmware blobs from the drivers (making them gpl
compliant again) aims excatly at that.

>> Most of us *do* care; we support it provided we can do
>> so without distributing non-free software, because Debian is 100% Free
>> Software.  Things we cannot support with free software we do not
>> support.  This is not an inconsistent policy; this is the core of what
>> Debian stands for.
> All hardware depends on non-free software.  If you want to lobby for all
> hardware to be free, including the firmware/BIOS/whatever, then fine.
> That's a noble war to wage and I'd support your efforts.
> However, requiring a policy like this at this time is completely insane
> because no hardware exists that meets this requirement.

Users don't have to install firmware/bios/whatever before linux runs
in the normal case. That is the difference.

>> To say it is arbitrary is worse, because that insults the motives of
>> the people who disagree with you.
> Your motives baffle me, and I can't say I feel any shame in insulting
> them.


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