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Re: non-free firmware

On Mon, Jan 09, 2006 at 04:35:40PM +0100, maximilian attems wrote:
> On Sun, Jan 08, 2006 at 11:58:16PM +0100, Sven Luther wrote:
> > On Sun, Jan 08, 2006 at 09:50:47PM +0100, Frederik Schueler wrote:
> > > Hallo,
> > > 
> > > On Sun, Jan 08, 2006 at 11:10:46AM +0100, Sven Luther wrote:
> > > > On Sun, Jan 08, 2006 at 10:04:45AM +0100, Andreas Barth wrote:
> > > > > Now, my question is: Is there still work open? If so, what? Or is the
> > > > > current removal of firmware enough, and we can relax on this topic? 
> > > 
> > > From my point of view, the situation currently looks like this:
> > > 
> > > 1. tg3 and qla2xxx driver status has been solved: upstream has
> > > relicensed the drivers - the sourcecode is licensed under the GPL, the 
> > > firmware data is freely distributable as an aggregate work. 
> > 
> > The firmware is still source-less, and it is not data, as it represents
> > microcode destined to be run on the controller it is uploaded to.
> we all agree that a line needs to be drawn.
> The stripped firmwares have questionable licenses 
> and needs to be put in non-free.

the problem is that there are two  issues : 

  1) non-distributable modules, because the licence was messy.

  2) distributable modules with non-free firmware.

tg3 and qla2xxx used to be in the first class, and due to relicencing they now
are in the second class, that don't make them free by any stretch of the

so, right now, if we are true to ourselves and follow the GR, we would have to
put tg3 and qla2xxx modules in non-free, and totally remove the messed up
licenced modules. If we don't want to do that, the most honest way to handle
it is to get another GR out the door,explaining that this is not easily
possible or convenient at this time, and asking for an explicit exception for
kernel firmware. I would second such a GR.

> kernel.org is distributing all of them.
> i'm sure that a user expects a package called linux-image to contain
> tg3 for example.

Sure, but what has this to do with anything ?

Also, distributing those from non-free, and having d-i seamlessly manage this,
is probably not such a problem for our users, and they can then chose to have
the non-free firmware or not. That is why we voted to keep non-free after all,
isn't it ?

> in an ideal world the line could be drawn much tighter,
> at the moment there is not much of a gain.

Sure, but because we chose to keep the non-free firmware or not, where we draw
the line, well, this doesn't change a thing about whether the firmware in
question is a source-less binary-hexdump or true free software.  Just call
things by their name and concentrate on going the real arguments out, instead
of playing with words in order to justify yourself.


Sven Luther

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