On Tue, 2008-10-28 at 18:01 +0100, David Weinehall wrote: [...] > Please try to explain to a hardware manufacturer that free their > hardware will only work with free software if they store their firmware > on an eeprom, and they'll laugh you in the face (or possibly send you > off to an asylum). Do you really think that it's better for our users > that the firmware is impossible to replace (and thus impossible, even > for the hardware vendors, to bugfix)? Does the "EEP" mean nothing to you? > Face it, all hardware has firmware, either loadable or in EEPROM. In > most cases that firmware is closed source. In most cases they are for > custom chips that have no compilers/developer kits/whatever available in > Debian anyway, so having the source wouldn't make any difference (and in > some cases, the binary blobs *is* the source code; I've spent more than > enough time programming 8-bit directly from a machine-code monitor). Agreed. [...] > Now, imagine Debian having this hypothetical yearly conference, called, > oh, let's say DebConf. During that conference we organise a special day > for our users, let's call it Debian Day. Lots of potential new Debian > users show up with their laptops and wants to install Debian. As the > kind souls we are, we hand out credit-card CD's with netinst images that > they can use with the WiFi available at the conference. > > Oh, but wait. They cannot access the WiFi, because their wireless cards > are not supported. Or rather, the drivers are available, but they all > report the same error message "Firmware not found". Happy, happy, joy, > joy. [...] This situation sucks. But we cannot claim to have a 100% free distribution while including sourceless firmware. The obvious solution is to have official free and not-quite-official non-free variants of the installer. But since most users won't know in advance whether they need sourceless firmware, the safe default would always be to choose the non-free variant - thus this is no solution. I wish I could think of something better. Ben.
Description: This is a digitally signed message part