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Re: can a kernel in main depend on firmware in non-free to work?

On Oct 28, 2008, Peter Samuelson <peter@p12n.org> wrote:

> [Alexandre Oliva]
>> Say, if these drivers that require non-Free firmware *were* shipped
>> as separate packages (for whatever reason), would they really belong
>> in main, rather than in contrib?

> Now you've hit on it.  If they were packaged _separately_, the
> drivers that are non-functional without the firmware files would not
> go in main.  But so long as linux-2.6 is one big package, 

I hope the prevalent interpretation of Debian's rules and policies
isn't so lax as to make room for such manipulation as packaging stuff
in main that belongs in contrib or non-free just because it happens to
be part of the same upstream package.

In fact, I have evidence to the contrary: a number of packages that
ship as a unit upstream are split by Debian into separate packages, so
that portions that are Free and stand-alone remain in main, while
non-Free portions go to non-free, and those that are Free but require
non-Free portions go to contrib.

Why should this cleansing not be applied to the kernel, that's
arguably far more important than a number of accessory packages that
undergo this procedure?

> the Depends relationship does not make sense

Please don't frame this as if it were a discussion about dpkg
dependency tags.  It's completely immaterial to the discussion which
tag one should use, if any, to represent the fact that some of the
code in a driver requires non-Free firmware code to work.

The relevant passage is "must not require a package outside of main
for [...]  execution".  Focusing on the tags comes off as a
distraction away from what's actually stated in Debian's rules, i.e.,
it amounts to mistaking a stated consequence (thus, ...) for the rule

Now, of course, one could argue that the portion that requires
non-Free code is not used by most, so the package as a whole works
just fine for most users in spite of the dependency.  But then again,
this kind of reasoning doesn't keep non-Free portions in main or
contrib, and since it makes room for blatant manipulation of the rules
by packaging tricks, it would probably make Debian's regulations and
Debian itself stronger if they wouldn't be interpreted so as to make
room for this.

But that's your position/decision to make.  Me, I'm just trying to
make sense of what I see and read :-)


Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{lsd.ic.unicamp.br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{redhat.com, gcc.gnu.org}

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