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Re: LCC and blobs

On Fri, Dec 17, 2004 at 11:36:09PM +0100, Måns Rullgård wrote:
> > To me, that seems much like arguing that because an emulator (such as
> > one for a console system) provides a GUI, and because it can run and
> > display that GUI without needing a ROM, the emulator should go to main.
> >  I don't believe that is "a significant amount of functionality".  Do
> > you?  Feel free to try to convince people.
> I'm convinced enough.  Some time ago, I was playing around with an
> emulator for Texas Instruments calculators.  It obviously required a
> ROM image to be useful, and the only legal way of obtaining one was
> dumping it from your own calculator (an easy task).  I still found
> this emulator useful, since I happen to have one of the calculators.

> By your reasoning, the only software allowed in main would be programs
> that could be used on any machine that will run Debian at all.  The
> only things I can think of that all machines have are a CPU and a few
> megabytes of RAM.  Everything else is more or less optional.

(I don't think this follows at all from his reasoning, but here I'm
focusing on your reasoning, since it seems a little confused.)

By your reasoning, everything in contrib should be moved to main, and
contrib should not exist.

Can you please explain what the difference is between your calculator
example, and everything else in contrib?

Free software that needs non-free software to function is not allowed
in main.  (There's no debate over this--it's a fundamental principle,
straight out of the first clause of the Social Contract.)  That's the
whole reason contrib exists; that's where your calculator emulator would
go, if no free ROM image was available.

It doesn't matter how easy it is to get that ROM image.  If it was
distributed under a "distribute freely, but do not modify" license,
it would be trivial to obtain, could go in non-free, and the emulator
would be useful to people that don't own the calculator.  Despite that,
the emulator would still go in contrib.

(The firmware debate is due, in part, to it not being immediately clear
whether a driver requiring firmware to fire up a device counts as
"depend[ing] on an item of non-free software", but your emulator example
has no such ambiguity.)

Glenn Maynard

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