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Re: LCC and blobs

On Sat, Dec 11, 2004 at 04:24:16PM -0800, Bruce Perens wrote:
> Tim Cutts wrote:
> >If Debian tries to be too rigid, we run a serious risk of consigning 
> >ourselves to history, because people just won't install Debian any 
> >more if it doesn't work out-of-the-box on most hardware - and the time 
> >is pretty much already here that most systems contain at least one 
> >component that loads firmware from disk every boot.
> >
> Of course, every time there has been any decision about including a 
> piece of non-free software in main, we've had this same discussion. It's 
> important for Debian to stand firm on this issue. If you want to 
> distribute firmware, it really belongs in FLASH on your device, don't 
> expect us to distribute it for you. 

We're not really in any position to say where firmware belongs.

For example, there seem to some good reasons for manufacturer's to not
store the firmware on the device itself.  Flash memory has a finite
life, and repeatedly flashing it will eventually wear it out and make
the device non-functional.  With older devices, it seemed that updating
the firmware was rarely needed, so memory lifetime was not a major
issue.  However, newer devices, especially wifi chipsets, seem to need
very frequent firmware updates.  Driver updates to the wifi chipset in
my laptop have required about 5 new firmware updates in the past year.
Flash memory reliability is probably a major concern for the
manufacturer of this chipset.

That said, it still isn't necessarily our responsibility to distribute
firmware.  Nonetheless, I believe it is important to make Debian readily
installable and usable on hardware that requires this firmware.

> Once it's in the device, it's below the demarcation of the bus
> programming interface, and thus outside of our domain.

I agree.

For every sprinkle I find, I shall kill you!

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