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Re: Bug#285518: misdn-utils includes a firmware loader

Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> wrote:

> On Tue, 14 Dec 2004 14:21:54 +0100, Simon Richter <Simon.Richter@hogyros.de> said: 
>> Hi,
>>> It's fine for software in main to be able to do stuff with non-free
>>> data; that's not the issue.  The question is whether there *exists*
>>> any free data that it works with, and if not, whether that's a
>>> problem.
>> I don't believe that is a problem. We don't ship the non-free data,
>> we just allow its use. I can see your point, however, that it is
>> useless to ship an utility that cannot be used at present without
>> having non-free data installed.
> 	Well, if you need the non-free component to be on the file
>  system, why is this different from contrib?  

When the issue of binary blobs in the kernel was first discussed here,
if I'm not mistaken the proposed solution was to rewrite the respective
drivers to be able to load the blob at runtime from "somewhere", and
that somewhere would then be populated from non-free or an external
source. And it was said that if the hardware device generally works
without firmware loading, just with worse performance, or if most
devices supported by the driver worked without, and just a minority
depended upon it, then the driver (the kernel module or monolitic
kernel) would be Free. 

Is this right? If yes, I don't see why this firmware loading software
isn't free. Surely, for the kernel, the firmware loading code shouldn't
be written dozens of times for dozens of drivers, but rather once in an
external source file that is included by all those drivers to do the
actual loading. And if the kernel can be freed by this procedure, this
firmware loading code must be free. Why should analogous code, just in
userland, be non-free? Or why isn't a firmware loading application
analogous to kernel firmware loading code?

Thanks in advance, Frank

Frank Küster
Inst. f. Biochemie der Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer

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