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

Brian Thomas Sniffen <bts@alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:
>> 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.

That's an unfortunate circumstance of naming. Anything that we could
potentially ship has to be considered as software - the aspects of
hardware that we're discussing are instructions that are run by a
processor, and we could extract those and copy them into the
distribution. Software doesn't stop being software once it's copied into
ROM, even if you'd prefer it to be called hardware.

>> 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.

The social contract uses "require", which is a stronger term than
policy's "depend". The driver software requires the portion of the
hardware that can also be described as software.

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

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