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Re: Free OS versus free hw

Neil Williams <codehelp@debian.org> writes:

> In the end, it comes down to "the preferred form for modification"

I am convinced that's the most useful place to draw the line, yes.

> and the reality that the preferred form *can* include binary code,
> machine code or any other data of a type that may well be generated
> in many other cases but is actually manipulated directly in this
> specific case.

I acknowledge it as a possibility (and my huge thanks to those who
have patiently explained this possibility). The existence of that
possibility doesn't significantly detract from the possibility that a
given firmware blob is *not*, in fact, the preferred form for making
modifications to it.

So I think that raises the important issue of what assurance is needed
to trust that we *are* redistributing the preferred form for making
modifications in any specific instance; and, while that issue is not
unique to programmatic blobs (c.f. raster graphic image data, for
another example of the same issue), it appears to me that the risk of
redistributing a non-source form (and thus unwittingly failing to meet
our Social Contract) is greater with programmatic binary blobs.

What assurance would those who are likely to have the inclination and
means to modify a processor's firmware, as distributed in Debian,
going to require to be satisfied that they have the preferred form of
the specific work for making modifications to it?

> Can we agree on this and get back to releasing Lenny?
> (please?)

I wasn't aware that work on releasing Lenny was halted while we
discuss this.

As for agreement, the existence of more possibilities in this matter
only appears to increase the burden of evidence. What application does
this have on the current firmware blobs in Debian? How do we determine
whether those specific blobs definitely are or definitely are not
being redistributed without the preferred form of the work for making

 \      “I like to fill my bathtub up with water, then turn the shower |
  `\       on and pretend I'm in a submarine that's been hit.” —Steven |
_o__)                                                           Wright |
Ben Finney

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