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

Raul Miller writes:

> In that case, we should probably be treating this as analogous to
> players for various forms of content.  If there are any significant free
> examples of that content we allow the player into main.  If there are
> no significant examples of that content, the loader really does have a
> dependency on non-free software content.

How many significant free examples of DVD content are there?  To the
best of my knowledge, all of the DVDs I own contain CSS-encrypted
content and are compressed using patent-encumbered formats.  The CSS
decryption library that libdvdread3 can use is not part of Debian, but
MPEG-2 decompressors seem to be in main.  It's also not very hard to
find cases where the MPEG LA has filed patent infringement lawsuits
based on those patents (against Compaq, Dell, Sagem S.A., effectively
Apex Digital, and others).

Apart from that, I do not think it is the same situation as a media
player; the "dependency" is one remove further than for media players.
If we declare that software depends on programmable bits on the other
side of a well-defined interface (not one based on function calls), we
have lots of problems.  To pick just one example, evolution-exchange
would need to move into contrib.

> And, if the driver won't work without the loader, then the driver has
> a dependency on the loader.

I was not aware that any of these drivers used a non-free loader.  Can
you give an example?

> Is it really too much to ask that there be some free firmware examples
> before we deal with that class of firmware?

We have linux-2.6.x/drivers/usb/serial/keyspan_pda.S and xircom_pgs.S,
which I alluded in my previous mail.  For each driver that can load
firmware, do you want Debian to be responsible for tracking down
whether free firmware exists anywhere in the world?  I think that
illustrates both the practical and logical flaws in claiming that the
driver depends on the firmware.

> > > Are you saying that you want us to ship opaque blobs where we take no
> > > responsibility whatsoever for their character?
> > 
> > I have said nothing of the sort.  Would you like to apologize for
> > being such a boorish insulting troll, or should I just write you off
> > as someone not worth listening to?
> You are one of a collection of people advocating similar things.
> If you expect me to limit my questions to addressing only you have
> said and to ignore issues raised by others, maybe we shouldn't be
> having this discussion on a public list.

I expect you to not raise strawman arguments.  Your last two questions
go beyond anything I have seen suggested in this discussion.  I also
do not see the pertinence; Debian disclaims responsibility for the
performance and behavior of everything it distributes.  Case in point:
the fairly recent -project discussion along the lines of "Reflections
on Trusting Trust" and whether it applied to Debian's toolchain.

Michael Poole

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