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Re: Making Debian available

On 2021-01-23 11:14:52 +0100 (+0100), Emanuele Rocca wrote:
> On 22/01 08:30, Jeremy Stanley wrote:
> > Taking away the choice for users who care about software freedom
> > to opt out of non-free content in the installer and find
> > alternative options would be a loss of freedom, in service of
> > convenience for users who aren't as invested in trying to
> > minimize their use of non-free software.
> Having the option to opt-out firmware during the installation
> procedure seems reasonable to me, and I don't think anyone was
> suggesting otherwise.

A statement was made which could have been interpreted that way,
that the non-free image "works for all users," and all I was
attempting to point out is that for some definitions of "works"
that's just not true.

We're arguing different points, and I fear talking past one another.

> The situation we are in today is very different though: we build a
> Defective by Design image that fails to install Debian on lots of
> computers because it does not include the firmware most WiFi cards
> need to function. If we were to make a mistake and accidentally
> include such firmware, people would be able to use what we publish
> on www.debian.org under the large "Download" button to install
> Debian on their Thinkpads, and we would consider that a problem.
> That's insane.

I'll join the less-vocal crowd in disagreeing that the fully free
image is especially defective (any more so than other software), and
I feel like painting it that way does harm to your argument. Yes
things could be better, on all fronts, but calling the hard work of
the community and installer team "defective" because it doesn't
cater to the specific set of users or devices you think it should
isn't a great way to encourage continued participation in those
efforts. I don't call the non-free installer image "useless" even
though in its current form I'd personally prefer not to use it.

I suppose I'm one of those lucky/nonexistent souls who carefully
researches devices before purchase, often joining in crowdfunding or
otherwise waiting on lengthy preorders specifically so I can support
organizations designing and manufacturing devices targeting
free/libre open source operating systems, who actually work to get
any new drivers integrated into the mainline Linux and *BSD kernels,
who distribute the source code and build toolchains for their own
firmwares, openly license their board layouts and parts manifests,
and so on. I appreciate that Debian gives me choice when it comes to
software freedom and hope it continues to do so; this is why it's
been my Linux distribution of choice for well over two decades

I do sometimes install non-free firmware blobs (and you can even
find me in the Debian changelog for firmware-linux-nonfree), so it's
not as if I have a problem with the idea of improving visibility for
non-free suite or the unofficial installer which ships them. I
personally wouldn't even mind if they were included with the
official installer builds so long as they didn't get applied
automatically while in expert mode, but today the choice we have is
between an image which has no non-free software requiring you to
supply it yourself if necessary to complete installation, or an
image which automatically installs non-free firmware even if you
don't strictly need it... or finding time to participate in the
installer team fixing bugs and revamping how some of this works, as
such endless discussion doesn't magically write software.
Jeremy Stanley

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