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

md@Linux.IT (Marco d'Itri) writes:

> On Oct 25, Brian Thomas Sniffen <bts@alum.mit.edu> wrote:
>> "Marco d'Itri" <md@Linux.IT> writes:
>> > bts@alum.mit.edu wrote:
>> >>>>Huh?  If a driver requires a firmware blob be copied from a driver CD,
>> >>> Please repeat after me: "drivers do not require firmwares, hardware
>> >>> devices require firmwares".
>> >>And the driver requires a functioning hardware device.  Thus, the
>> > This is not an use of the verb "require" I'm familiar with.
>> The driver has no useful functionality without a device to drive.
>> What's unclear about this?
> It's not clear how this is related to the argument.

Look, foowriter depends on readline.  libreadline depends on libc.  So
foowriter depends on libc.

People have been saying here that drivers depend on firmware.  You
have argued that they don't -- presenting as evidence that the devices
depend on the firmware.

While this is true, it is incomplete: the driver Depends, in the
policy sense, on the device, and the device Depends on the firmware.
Debian doesn't express the hardware element of the dependency, so the
driver Depends on the firmware.

> Obviously any kind of device driver has limited practical use[1] if
> you do not own the hardware device, and so are programs like ICQ and
> AIM clients if you do not have access to the proprietary servers
> they connect to, but still policy does not require to keep this kind
> of free software out of Debian.

It's not just the proprietary server code, but the actual servers that
are necessary.  That is, you need the machines running them --
hardware, a black box outside Debian's control.

I do think that closed-system clients don't belong in Debian
(differentiating OSCAR, for example, from whatever the closed AIM
protocol of the week is -- I don't follow technical developments
there very closely.)

> [1] But it may be an invaluable source of code and ideas to use in other
>     projects...

That source of ideas is not enough to change a Depends to a Suggests,
or we'd have nothing in contrib.

Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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