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Re: miBoot floppies for debian-installer and use of people.debian.org

On Sat, Jan 26, 2008 at 11:55:05AM -0500, Daniel Dickinson wrote:
> I have a question.  I have at various times been interested on getting
> Debian working on an Old World PowerPC Macintosh and have come across a
> situation that confuses me.  I was able to get the mac working with the
> use of floppies that include a tool call miBoot, that are distributed
> on people.debian.org/~dontremember.  The main debian-installer daily
> builds do not include the miBoot floppy images.

That would be people.debian.org/~wouter/d-i/powerpc-miboot

(it used to be ~svenl, but since he's no longer a DD...)

> The thing is the reason they are not part of debian proper is that
> miBoot is non-free and possibly non-distributable (see below).  My
> question is whether including them on p.p.o is therefore a violation of
> debian policy?  It seems odd to me that p.p.o should be used as a way
> around debian policy.
> miBoot is GPL but requires CodeWarrior (a proprietary compiler) to
> build, and *cannot* be built with free tools (although work is underway
> to change this).  My understanding of the debian interpretation of of
> the GPL is that this makes miBoot non-distributable because under the
> GPL everything required to build the binaries must be available as
> source,

No, this is not correct. A requirement for a proprietary compiler makes
miboot contrib material, not non-distributable.

> including the compiler (unless the compiler is part of the
> system the code is built on, which is not the case here)

The exact wording in the GPLv2 is as follows:

The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
making modifications to it.  For an executable work, complete source
code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any
associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to
control compilation and installation of the executable.  However, as a
special exception, the source code distributed need not include
anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary
form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the
operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component
itself accompanies the executable.

This paragraph is relevant, because the GPL further on defines that if
you distribute a binary, you must also distribute the source.

With that, I don't follow your reasoning that a non-free compiler makes
miBoot itself non-free. It would be contrib material, that's right; but
the code itself is free.

> I'd like this question resolved one way or another because at the
> moment Old World Macs are in a kind of limbo between official support
> and a clear statement that they cannot be supported.

The main problem is that d-i is built entirely from stuff in main, and
miBoot can't be there currently. Fixing that problem would allow miBoot
to be moved to main, and in turn that would allow this limbo state to be

<Lo-lan-do> Home is where you have to wash the dishes.
  -- #debian-devel, Freenode, 2004-09-22

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