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position statement from the kernel team over the current non-free firmware GR vote (Was: Call for votes for "GR: : Handling source-less firmware in the Linux kernel")


The kernel team consider that neither of the two proposals currently under
vote [1] are a good solution to the non-free firmware problem. Furthermore, 
a consensual proposal has now reached enough seconds [2] to be put to vote,
and is much preferable, both in clearness of text as in actual content. 

The proposal made by Josselin (Choice 2) will have a hard time to pass,
as it needs 3:1 supermajority. It gives a longer term exception for
firmwares beyond the etch release, which we believe not being necessary,
and furthermore, it is an amendment to the original proposal from Steve,
now withdrawn, and is thus less clean.

The proposal originally from Frederik as amended by Manoj (Choice 1) has
serious issues. It doesn't correspond to the wish of the kernel team,
as expressed by the position statement at [3] following the kernel team
meeting about the firmware issue. This proposal is titled : "Choice 1:
Release Etch even with kernel firmware issues" but this is highly
misleading, since the actual proposal in many ways contradicts this.
The proposal states : 

  1. It forces us to not release as part of etch those firmwares removed
     in sarge, which include popular drivers used for installation as tg3
     and acenic (Point 3.).

  2. It means illegal to distribute firmwares will have to go (good),
     altough it is silent about the sourceless GPL ones (Point 4.).

  3. It means we will not distribute firmwares with non-DFSG free licenses
     (Point 4.). This is highly confusing, because the distinction is made
     on the licenses, and not on the actual freeness, and it thus favours
     firmwares under free licenses, but not respecting the terms of the
     licenses, over those firmwares whose copyright holder has clarified
     their licensing, like broadcom did for the tg3 license.

Furthermore, the current choice 1, which will allow to ship sourceless GPLed
firmwares, should have needed a 3:1 supermajority, as it directly contradicts
the DFSG.

For all these reasons, the kernel team believes that the solution proposed
at [3], and which already reached enough seconds, and will thus be needed
to be voted on, is a better solution, and since it is not possible anymore
to amend the current ballot, we urge all voters to vote "Further Discussion",
and allow for the recast of a new ballot containing the better solution, and
possible other amendments (like a rewording of Josselin's proposal on top of
the consensual proposal for example).

On behalf of the Debian Kernel Team, 


Sven Luther

  [1] - http://www.debian.org/vote/2006/vote_007
  [2] - http://lists.debian.org/debian-vote/2006/10/msg00183.html
  [3] - http://wiki.debian.org/KernelFirmwareLicensing#head-98e7641feaea08b775f4d5c58d071b77ff172c90

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