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Re: Free OS versus free hw

Loïc Minier <lool@dooz.org> writes:

> On Tue, Oct 28, 2008, Ben Finney wrote:
> > That means: free access to exactly the same form of the work that
> > the vendor might use to make modification to any part of the
> > operating system
>  So you consider the bits of code which runs on the hardware part of
>  the OS? I consider it's part of what gets on the CDs to ship, and
>  in the archive, but I don't see it as a runtime part of the OS; I
>  see it as a runtime part for hardware with which the OS interfaces.

I don't consider “runtime part of the OS” to be the limit of what
needs to be free. I consider “the OS”, that is, whatever we ship and
say is Debian, no matter what transient functional classifications it
may have in any particular instance, to be the limit of what needs to
be free.

For my own part, I want *all* digital information to be free; but
that's not the mandate of the Debian project. What *is* the mandate of
the Debian project is that it produce the best free operating system.

Anything that the project produces as part of that operating system,
whether it happens at any particular moment to be interpreted as
“executable”, “documentation”, “configuration”, “data”, or some
simultaneous blend of functional classifications, must be free.

> > If the above isn't the case for any part of Debian, I consider
> > that a breach of the Social Contract, to be considered a serious
> > bug and fixed appropriately by ceasing redistribution of that work
> > in Debian until it's fixed, and (ideally) fixing it so the work
> > can again be included in Debian.
>  I ackowledge that the current requirements of the social contract
>  as it's worded and intended require us to ship the source code of
>  the lib/firmware blobs.

Simply because anything that we ship as part of Debian must be

>  What I'm not sure about is why we couldn't have an equally useful
>  social contract to build an OS, but is worded to allow shipping of
>  utility binary files which enable additional hardware to work with
>  agreed upon APIs.

That would be far less useful as a social contract because it allows a
ghetto of non-free parts to be redistributed within Debian, and make
false the core idea that “I have received a free operating system, so
I know that for *everything* in here I have certain basic freedoms”.

 \                “Room service? Send up a larger room.” —Groucho Marx |
  `\                                                                   |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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