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Re: linux-2.6: includes nondistributable and non-free binary firmware

On Thu, Aug 17, 2006 at 02:41:52PM -0400, Kyle McMartin wrote:
> [Reply-To set to the list, I really don't want this idiocy in my
>  personal Inbox.]

Kyle, this idiocy as you say it, is grounded in what we all claim and agreed
to in the social contract, which is a binding document to all DDs. You may
disagree with it, but please, at least stay polite, ok ? 

> On Thu, Aug 17, 2006 at 10:07:42AM -0700, ldoolitt@recycle.lbl.gov wrote:
> > If the kernel team decides on (2) or (3), I'd be happy to
> > help with the coding.  (Note that, due to the unfortunate
> > state of upstream, most of the patching/deletion has to
> > happen in the creation of the .orig.tar.gz file, not the
> > .diff.gz file)  Unfortunately, due to a lack of hardware,
> > I can't help with any testing (other than "does it compile").
> No wonder you're so fucking enthusiastic about removing support for
> hardware. You don't own any of it. How fucking convenient.

Erm, some guys tried to kick me out of debian for showing unpoliteness, so
please moderate your language here.

> Since we seem to be pissing all over the spirit of the Social Contract
> in the name of some holy quest for the unattainable goal of cooperative
> vendors, Matthew Garrett[1] and I[2] have filed bugs to remove support for
> all NVidia devices. Enjoy VESA folks.

Or simply don't buy nvidia hardware :) They have since forever (i remember
talks about their binary only driver in the tnt2 days), been the worse enemy's
of the free software community from all the graphic card manufacturers.

> 1. http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=383465
> 2. http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=383481
> Now, I don't think you understand what "preferred form of modification" is.
> In all likelihood, the engineer who wrote, for example, the QLogic driver,
> never even touched the firmware, never once questioned it, another engineer
> simply gave him an array to copy to the card. The engineer who wrote the
> driver didn't know, or care, about what should have just been on an EEPROM,
> all he cared about was properly writing a Linux driver to talk to the
> hardware.

So, what ? Would your reasoning mean we can move the unicorn driver into main
? It includes a binary-only soft-ADSL library, which i personally know, that
not only the original unicorn author never saw the source for, but that even
the compmany who produces the hardware for it never even saw the source code,
since they bought the binary as is from some random chip company.

Then, if you accept this in main, where would be your next step ? 

> This is the difference between a piece of firmware, and an actual
> binary blob that something calls into.

No, what is important is what the prefered form of modification is, and this
is the one used by the original author, and not what whoever ships the binary
in a modified form along the way has.

> Conviently, this is also the difference between the ``free'' NVidiot
> drivers, and any of the firmware-encumbered drivers you posted. No one,
> and I really mean No One, can really claim to contribute meaningfully
> to those NVidia drivers. However, all of the other drivers you mentioned

Ah, you have a good point, but this goes down into free hardware, andthere has
been very few discussion about this around.

Indeed, one could argue that the effective prefered form for modification of
all those drivers is the hardware specs document, or even go beyond to the
actual vhdl file for the chip, and the schematic for the board its hosted in.

> have likely had substancially contributions from outsiders (other than
> the vendor, I mean.) (I say "likely" with a degree of certainty, having
> seen patches from !vendors for most of them.)

So ?

> Now, don't you have something better to do than hurt our users?
> Lots of love,
> 	Kyle M.
> PS: I feel it again worth mentioning, that even if there were no firmware
> in the driver, you would just get the exact same data if you pulled the
> EEPROM and stuck it in a reader. 

Indeed. We don't chip the EEPROM though, and thus our DFSG doesn't applies to

If you have trouble standing up to the principles of the DFSG, or some issue
with the social contract, as interpreted by the last GR we had about this,
feel free to propose your own GR about this, and await for the outcome. Just
complaining puts you in the same class as those guys who complained about the
non-free firmware, but unlike Larry, did not contribute any amount of actual


Sven Luther
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