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Re: DFSG violations: non-free but no contrib

Manoj Srivastava wrote:
        Can you explain to me why it matters which processing unit the
 software runs on?  Why does it matter whether the software being
 executed on the central unit matters, and that on the peripheral
 processing unit gets off scott free?

I don't think it does matter.

On a related note though, compare to hardware vendors:

A) provides all firmware, in binary only form, without source code, on board device ROM that cannot be changed.

B) provides all firmware on disk, in binary only form, without source code, in form that must be downloaded to device after every boot.

A hardware is usable with Debian main. B is not.

Is this really a win? Have we gained anything for freedom? I suspect not. In both cases the firmware cannot be modified. At least for B there is some hope because the open source code to perform the downloading of the firmware has been written, where as doing that for A that might be harder.

The only benefit I see is a technical one - it is easy to draw the line and say Debian must exclude all binary blobs that don't comply with the DFSG. I can't see it helping in any practical manner achieve the goal of the DFSG by increasing the freedoms we get with Debian. Users will still have the same restrictions and not be able to make modifications. Not until we can get open source hardware will this change.

I haven't heard a good answer to the problem that some types of firmware can only be legally endorsed if the manufacturer ensures users can't change it - e.g. firmware for wireless interfaces.

Brian May

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