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Re: LCC and blobs

Tim Cutts wrote:

Maybe not most, but many, and the proportion is increasing. If we force these into contrib, then a lot of hardware will not work out of the box for people trying to install Debian. Especially wireless cards on laptops.

This is likely to put people off the distribution.

This is unfortunate, but necessary. Debian does not distribute your motherboard ROM, or any of the other burned-in firmware that belongs on the card. This is all about distribution. Once operational, the firmware is below the bus, outside of the domain of our software. But it's against Debian's principles to distribute it.

If the manufacturer wants their device to be supported, they can put a fifty-cent FLASH chip on their hardware and program it before the sale. Debian should be pro-active in publishing a list of devices that require BLOBs in their drivers, so that users are warned away from them.

There is no denying that run-time loadable firmware is software. It is not feasable to open the development of such stuff in many cases, because unanticipated operation of the device can damage it. But to distribute such software in Debian would be against our most central principles.

Thus, if LCC is to accomodate Debian, it must be possible to remove BLOBs from the LCC kernel without voiding its certification.

By the way, I was party to a discussion between Theo de Raadt and RMS on this topic not long ago. I don't see who in FSF is saying that BLOBs are not a concern to FSF, but RMS is pretty clear that it's never ethical to distribute them.



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