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Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: [not] Summarizing the choices

On Sun, 2008-11-09 at 00:39 -0500, Theodore Tso wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 08, 2008 at 05:05:50PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> > 
> > But now we have this claim that the FCC's well-understood rule about
> > hardware does not apply to software: that software modifications *are*
> > traceable back to the manufacturer, even though hardware modifications
> > are not.  Oddly, however, in all these conversations, we've never seen
> > any indication that this is really the FCC's policy.
> So if people think that they are going to be able to get firmware in
> source form so that popular wireless chips can be driven using 100%
> DFSG pure firmware, I suspect they will have a very long wait ahead of
> them.  The issue is that software controlled radios are cheaper, and
> that drives the mass market, so that will be what most manufacturers
> will use.

Having the firmware stored in flash memory would actually be a
regression as far as quality is concerned:
- ipw2100 firmware was updated 4 times (current version is 1.3)
- ipw2200 firmware was updated about 7 times (v3.0)
- ipw3945 firmware probably had multiple updates (v1.14.2).
- iwl3945 firmware had multiple updates (v15.28.1.8).
- iwl4965 firmware probably had multiple updates (v228.57.2.21).
You can look for others. See http://wiki.debian.org/Firmware

If we ever "succeed" in getting hardware manufacturer to ship their
firmware on flash memory, that would mean that 99% of users will use
outdated/buggy firmware. (How many of you regularly check their laptop
manufacturer for firmware upgrade?)

> > And none of this is really relevent: the DFSG and the Social Contract do
> > not contain an exception for dishonest or scared hardware manufacturers,
> > or stupid FCC policies.
> Neither does it (currently) contain an exception for debian.org
> machines, or very popular Dell machines with Broadcom ethernet
> firmware.  Great!  Cut them off!!  Let's see how quickly we can get
> users moving to non-official kernels and installers when the official
> ones don't work for them.  Then we can stop fighting about it.  The
> DFSG hard liners can go on using the DFSG free kernels, and everyone
> else can either move to another distribution or use an unofficially
> forked kernel package and installer.

That's exactly the current situation: If one don't want non-free
firmwares, he/she just don't use them.

BTW, I have just checked... In order to install Windows Vista on my
laptop, I would have to download about 20 different drivers. By asking
users to download one single tarball with non-free firmware we provide a
much easier experience.


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