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Re: LCC and blobs

Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> writes:

> 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.

That's not what I said, nor what I meant.  For instance, a Matlab
program no doubt depends on Matlab, which is clearly non-free.

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

I don't know all the packages in contrib, and I don't have the time to
go and read the descriptions of all of them.

> 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.)

Well, that makes it as fundamental as the SC, no more, no less.  In
this context, I'll accept it though.

> 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.

OK, then it's about time someone removes libti68k ("Motorola 68000
emulation library for Texas Instruments calculators") from main.  Not
only does it require a ROM image, it also depends on libticalcs3 and
libticables3, both of which require an actual calculator, and hence
the firmware (let's call it firmware, to make the analogy easier to
see), without which the calculator is useless.

Now you'll say the calculator doesn't need the firmware to be loaded
every time you want to use it, and that would somehow make a
difference.  Suppose now, that TI released a new model, which didn't
have flash memory, so it would need to be reloaded if the batteries
were removed, while in all other respects being compatible to the
previous models.  Would this suddenly render all those libraries

> (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.)

That's where we disagree.

Suppose some piece of hardware had a Compact Flash reader, and came
with a Compact Flash card containing firmware necessary for the
hardware to run.  Would this also be non-free?

Måns Rullgård

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