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

Raul Miller <moth@debian.org> wrote:
>> Raul Miller <moth@debian.org> wrote:
>> > Note that this difference is similar in character to the difference
>> > between main and contrib.
> On Tue, Oct 26, 2004 at 01:39:03PM +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:
>> How? Main is free software that doesn't require non-free code.
>> Contrib is free software that does require non-free code.
> I said similar, not identical.
> The difference I was referring to was the difference of convenience --
> using software from contrib requires a few extra steps.  Similarly,
> using an external copy of firmware requires a few extra steps.

The contrib distinction is nothing to do with convenience - it's to do
with segregation of free material from material with non-free
dependencies. We do this because we are a free software distribution.
You might as well claim that the difference is similar in character
between Debian and Ubuntu - an installation of Debian requires a few
extra steps to get X configured. It's true, but it's not useful.

>> Note that the social contract does not use the word "depends".
> It uses "require", which is close enough.

No. "Depends" has a very specific meaning within Debian. All dependecies
are requirements - not all requirements are dependencies. 

>> All of the hardware under discussion requires non-free code.
> That's one way of looking at it.
>>From within a framework of thought that looks at the issue that way:
> where meeting the hardware's non-free code requirements is totally out
> of our control, we don't do anything about the issue.

That's a viewpoint that isn't enshrined in policy or the social
contract. Point 1 of the social contract is quite clear that we can't
distribute material in main if it requires non-free components. The
firmware in these devices is non-free. The logical conclusion is that we
can't ship any driver that requires non-free frimware, regardless of
whether this is in ROM or on CD.

The other logical conclusion is that the social contract is buggy and
needs fixing. The benefit of hindsight, eh?

> Similarly, we distribute web browsers which visit servers where those
> servers require non-free code.  For the cases where those servers are
> totally out of our control, we don't do anything about that issue.

Browsers do not require non-free code - they are merely able to make use
of it.

Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.legal@srcf.ucam.org

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