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Re: non-free firmware: driver in main or contrib?

Marco d'Itri wrote:
> bts@alum.mit.edu wrote:
>>>Right, the package in main should not depend on an hypothetical package
>>>from non-free.
>>So rather than ship the driver in contrib and the firmware in
>>non-free, you're suggesting that the driver go in main and the
>>firmware not be shipped at all, even though that reduces the
>>functionality of the driver to "Error: no firmware found."
> Yes. I believe that this better serves our users. I can think about at
> least two common situations in which an hard dependency would not be
> appropriate or even possible:

First of all, the hard dependency is clearly there; otherwise, the
package in contrib would not need Depends: firmware-package-in-non-free.
It would have a Recommends, or even a Suggests; in the latter case, if
the dependency is so weak that it is merely a suggesion, the package
could go in main.

> - when distribution is restricted by copyright, so we cannot distribute
>   it even in non-free (usually when the driver has been developed from
>   scratch by a third party)

This is irrelevant to whether the package goes in contrib or not; either
it Depends: non-free-package , or it Depends-but-we-can't-express-it:
package-we-can't-distribute .  Either way, it should go to contrib.

> - when the firmware is used by a device needed to install the system,
>   like a network card or a modem (if the user has got the Debian system
>   on a CD it may be easier for him to get the firmware from the vendor
>   CD than downloading it and the transfering it to the target system
>   using some removable media)

And this is absolutely irrelevant to whether a package goes in main or

>>That seems as clear a dependence as any other foo and foo-data package
>>in the repository.
> Probably because you did not think much about real-life issues...

None of which are relevant to whether a package goes in main or contrib.

If you want to argue that a package in contrib should be included on CDs
or in the installer, feel free to argue that.  Please do not conflate
that issue with the entirely non-technical decision of whether a package
goes in main or contrib; otherwise, you are doing a disservice to
another important class of users, namely those who count on Debian to be
true to its stated values and keep the clear distinction between main,
contrib, and non-free.

- Josh Triplett

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