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

Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:

> Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> wrote:
>> I don't understand how there's any disagreement in this case: it's clearly
>> software, covered by the DFSG (or at least the one Debian will be using
>> soon), it's required (a Depends), and clearly non-free.
> On the other hand, if it's clearly software when it's on CD then it's
> clearly software when it's on eeprom.

False.  That's why we call it firmware, not just "software living on a device".
It's an implementation detail of the hardware that they happen to have
shipped a microprocessor and a hardwired program.  If the program had
been burned into a circuit in an FPGA, would you still call it

If it's a single-use PROM, is it still software?

>From the point of view of the driver, the device is just a device.  It
gets... driven.  That's it.  No need to consider the things inside and
force decisions about software or not onto them.

Anything the user's being told to copy to /usr/local/something, on the
other hand, is clearly software.

> If it's a dependency when it's on CD, it's equally a dependency when
> it's on eeprom. The only distinction that can be drawn is whether or
> not it ends up on the user's hard drive.  Surely the storage
> mechanism used does not alter the freeness of something?

Surely the implementation details of a device do not alter the
freeness of it?

Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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