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

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

> Brian Thomas Sniffen <bts@alum.mit.edu> wrote:
>> Yes, Marco.  We all understand the model you propose, based around the
>> idea "all firmware is essentially hardware, even if it's clearly a
>> file that has to be there on disk for a driver to function".  An
>> equally valid model has been proposed around the idea that all
>> software is software, and anything that can't be touched from software
>> is hardware.
> Two issues:
> 1) The social contract doesn't give us any leeway here. There's no
> way to claim that hardware doesn't have to conform to the DFSG, and
> there's no way to claim that large parts of Debian don't require that
> hardware.

Sure it does.  The Debian Free Software Guidelines only apply to
software.  Hardware is hard, not soft.

> 2) The contents of an eeprom can generally be touched from software. You
> need a firmer basis for your line.

That... requires some thought.  I don't mean to say that *all* drivers
for firmware-using devices must go in contrib.  Merely that those
drivers which Depend, in the policy sense, on non-free software must
go in contrib, and that any loadable firmware is software.  Whether
it's a Dependency depends on the individual case -- a device that
ignores its firmware isn't a dependency, a driver that can drive
prelaoded devices is a Suggestion, and so on.


Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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