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Re: DFSG violations: non-free but no contrib

On Tue, Nov 04, 2008, Robert Collins wrote:
> I wish I understood the reasoning here - putting aside the fact that
> most of the software in Debian is under a copyleft licence and so we
> *must* provide the source. Why is the source for the radio on my wifi
> card any *less* critical than the source for the driver for my wifi
> card?

 Because I can consider the wifi firmware a subsystem which doesn't
 contaminate my main OS; there's a clear interface between the two
 systems -- it's like talking to another computer, talking to your hard
 disk, talking to your keyboard: something proprietary or free might
 well be inside, I don't care as long as I can run a free OS on the main
 CPU.  I'd *prefer* if it was free, but I can start another project to
 fulfill this goal.  I don't want the freedom requirements for the main
 OS to require using free hardware, just like I want the freedom
 requirements to require talking to computers running free software.

 Now if Debian can distribute a blob which allows my hardware to run as
 indicated by a clear interface with my free OS, that's good enough for
 me.  If something breaks, I can look at the interface and fix the OS or
 blame the hardware (+ firmware).  I don't personally feel like I need
 the freedom to fix the firmware more than the hardware.
   (However, I acknowledge that we must make it clear that particular
 files are only distributed as enablement tools, and don't come with
 ultimate source, tools, and doc.)

 And if we don't require the hardware to be freely modifiable, why
 require the firmware to be so?

> And if the answer reduces down to 'firmware is made by proprietary
> vendors and does something many people need and we don't have a
> replacement yet' - well thats fine, but at various points we didn't have
> a free kernel, or a free libc, or a free graphic desktop environment.

 And we didn't have Debian or OpenMoko; and the glibc, linux, and
 Xorg/GNOME/KDE/Xfce are huge separate projects and we could start new
 projects to free more things up.

 Google.com is run with software I don't have access to, but I use it
 daily, as well as my microwave, or my wifi card.

Loïc Minier

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