Re: non-free firmware: driver in main or contrib?
Matthew Garrett <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> Steve Langasek <email@example.com> wrote:
>> On Sun, Oct 24, 2004 at 03:41:13AM +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:
>>> Is this the case even if the firmware is in a flash chip attached to the
>>> device? If the total amount of non-free software on a user's system is
>>> the same regardless, why are we concerned about how it's packaged?
>> The total amount of non-free software on a user's system is different if the
>> firmware comes pre-loaded on the device than if we have to load it from the
>> OS, isn't it?
> By system, I'm referring to the hardware as well.
>> If there is at least one real-world device that works with the driver
>> without needing to load additional firmware, I think the driver is
>> unambiguously free from this standpoint. If no one can point to a device
>> that the driver works with without the help of an additional non-free
>> firmware blob, I'm not certain I agree that it doesn't have a dependency on
>> non-free software.
> But almost every driver requires an additional non-free firmware blob.
> In general, there are two cases:
> 1) That firmware is in an eeprom, and so was distributed to the user
> when the hardware was bought
> 2) That firmware is not in an eeprom, and so was distributed to the user
> when they obtained drivers
> In most versions of case (2), the user will already own a copy of the
> firmware - it'll be on the Windows driver CD in some form. It would be
> trivial to add code to the driver packages to copy this code off the CD.
> At that point, in no case does Debian distribute the firmware.
> Ignoring Brian's strange arguments about rodents, I can see no cases
> where the user has more freedom if the firmware comes from an eeprom
> rather than from a CD.
He can sell the device with the firmware in it, or reverse engineer it
without encountering any license agreements involving the firmware.
It's a physical device with a copy of the data, like a book.
Brian Sniffen firstname.lastname@example.org