[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [DRAFT] resolving DFSG violations

"Jeff Carr" <basilarchia@gmail.com> writes:

> On Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 07:21, Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> wrote:
> >        Your argument boils down to: There is function that will
> >  never be supported by free software. Annoying people by asking
> >  them to expose their function by freeing the software just
> >  irritates them, so we should just suck it up and accept it.
> I don't think I'm explaining this well, as it seems you are still
> not getting it: there isn't any source code to get.

If so, I don't get it either.

If we use the “preferred form of the work for making modifications to
it” definition of source code, what is the form that best meets that

What form of the work do the copyright holders use to make changes to

> >        Guess how we cater to people who need non-free software for
> >  some functionality they must have? We put it into a place called
> >  the non-free archive.
> Great; totally useless raw data the chips on the machine need so we
> can write free device drivers to talk to them. Excellent.

I've been continually surprised over the decades at just how much
usefulness can be found by clever people, once outsiders have free
access to the form of the work that is used for making modifications.

So much so that I'm very skeptical of anyone telling me that such
access is “totally useless”.

> So the plan is: "Debian is only for hardware manufacturers that
> embed the firmware in flash. If you hide your non-free stuff, that'd
> be great because then we could pretend it doesn't really exist.

The brightest line I've seen used for describing the threshold is:

If the vendor is able to send out a bit stream and (with or without
the owner's intervention) load that bit stream onto the
already-purchased hardware to modify its behaviour, then we just
crossed into the realm where the recipients of those bytes (the owners
of the hardware) deserve all the free-software freedoms in order to
retain ownership of their hardware.

If the bit stream is contained in hardware such that it not feasible
for the user *or* the vendor to modify, then they are both on equal
footing and it's much less important to demand free-software rights,
since the vendor doesn't have them either.

> I guess I'll find out. I think this proposal is just trying to
> pretend that there isn't firmware in the machines now. How does it
> help the free software movement if we try to ignore the non-free
> firmware booting our machines now? Why are we trying to shuffle that
> under the rug?

That's a different threshold, much easier to discern: Currently,
TTBOMK, Debian does not distribute firmware for booting machines. If
it did, those bit streams would fall under the Social Contract and
would need to be free to be part of Debian.

Whether it would be a good thing to promote free-software BIOS for
computers is moot, since Debian isn't a vehicle for distributing BIOS
so such BIOS doesn't automatically fall under the Social Contract.

> So yes, I think most people aren't going to "get" the issue unless
> they may have been firmware engineers.

Thank you for continuing to discuss it; I'm genuinely interested in
testing the principles of software freedom to ensure they continue to
apply as computer designs change.

 \     “I hope that after I die, people will say of me: ‘That guy sure |
  `\                            owed me a lot of money’.” —Jack Handey |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

Reply to: