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Re: Making Debian available, non-free promotor

On Sat, Jan 16, 2021 at 07:56:30PM +0100, Philipp Kern wrote:
> On 15.01.21 13:42, Ansgar wrote:
> > On Tue, 2021-01-12 at 19:30 +0100, Geert Stappers wrote:
> >> Ah, yes I also wonder how much the world will improve
> >> if non-free would be split in non-free and non-free-firmware.
> >> Currently is non free firmware a hugh promoter of non-free in
> >> /etc/apt/sources.list
> > 
> > I proposed moving non-free firmware to a new non-free-firmware some
> > time ago[1], but then it seemed like there was no consensus on this
> > which I though we had before.  Some people wanted non-free/firmware
> > instead (different name), wanted packages to start appearing in
> > multiple components (non-free and non-free[/-]firmware), wanted
> > additional categories (e.g. non-free/doc for Free Software Foundation
> > stuff), wanted non-free drivers as well, wanted major changes how
> > components work (which might imply incompatible changes for mirroring
> > tools and so on), ...
> I idly wonder if we could call it firmware and call it a day. I tried to
> propose that a bunch of times and was not successful either (e.g. it was
> unclear to me if that needed a GR).
This is now hitting sites like LWN and The Register. There's a convenience 
factor and a free software factor - either way, we're putting off our new
users. Pragmatically:

Can I suggest a revamp of the web pages - perhaps along the following lines:

1. A clear pointer to the existing Debian offiical image hierarchy 
* pointing out that this does NOT contain firmware which might be necessary for some wifi / 
video cards.** 
* Pointing out also that this image is ideal for VMs / containers where the 
firmware is dealt with by the underlying OS. 
* Pointing  out also that this is the official image that is tested when we do
 point releases (we don't and can't test every possible iteration of firmware
 - and that point can be reiterated at 4 below if necessary).
* Pointing out that this is the image we can fix when stuff goes wrong :)
[** Also put an "in case of problems"  pointer to the instructions for how to 
add firmware by other methods in case someone finds part way through an 
install that they're stuck.]

A pointer at the same relative level to the existing Debian unofficial image
[See further 4. below]

2. A short guide as to how to find out what firmware you need BEFORE you install 
Debian and notes as to what that might be - which firmware corresponds to 
which package. 

with, possibly, a separate 
3. Further reading guide with pointers to Wiki or elsewhere dealing with: 
* Specific hardware problems 
* UsingDebianOn Wiki pages
* Problematic chipsets where you might have to compile from a Github 
* Build and use DKMS modules (advanced users only)
* A pointer about things like the Raspberry Pi which require a different 
approach to non-free firmware.

4. A pointer to the images including firmware with a note making explicit that  this is 
provided for the convenience of users who otherwise would be unable to install Debian at all: 
* a pointer about how to limit the amount of non-free firmware you install 
to the necessary packages, 
* that you don't need every firmware package, 
* that some firmware packages conflict
* Perhaps a pointer to using USB-Ethernet adapters as a straightforward way
round some of the issues for an install fest.

This doesn't change anything in our approach - it is explicit.

As to how to split up non-free - I leave that to others and another GR :(

Andy Cater

> I guess better non-free filtering would not be a bad idea, though. For
> the buildd network it is also still an unsolved question how to allow
> build-depending on a (small, allowlisted) subset of non-free.
> Kind regards
> Philipp Kern

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