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Re: LCC and blobs

Please retain the d-devel@ CC.  It's horrible for some posts in a thread
to go to one list, some to another, and some to both, since it forces
everyone wanting to follow the conversation to read the entire thread on
two lists.

On Sun, Dec 12, 2004 at 04:44:44PM -0500, Michael Poole wrote:
> > Does it work with the firmware.deb installed? yes.
> > Does it work without the firmare.deb installed? no.
> > 
> > => Depends
> Does it work with the non-free BIOS installed? yes.
> Does it work without the non-free BIOS installed? no.
>  => Boot loaders Depend on BIOS not in Debian.

There are three major cases; #1, code in a ROM, where Debian can not and
does not need to distribute it; #2, code in flash ROM, where Debian can
distribute it but does not need to for the device to be functional; and
#3, code uploaded to RAM on the device, where the user must have a copy
of the code on his hard drive for the driver to upload to the device.

BIOSes are in #2.  "Does not work without the firmware installed" is #3.
#2 is an optional dependency; there may be value in including it, but
the device is realistically functional without it, and the driver stands
alone without non-free dependencies.  Only #3 potentially forces the user
to subject himself to non-free copyright or contract restrictions in order
to make actual use of the device and driver.

In my opinion, #3 is questionable; if it's a standalone driver package, it
looks like an obvious target for contrib.

I'm inclined to not care too much about individual drivers as part of a
kernel (or other compilation of drivers, eg. alsa-kernel).  They don't
work on their own (despite Marco's contrivances), but the kernel as a
whole does.  Debian doesn't chop out code from programs that makes use
of optional non-free libraries, moving just those pieces into contrib;
drivers (in the context of a kernel) seem like the same situation.  (I
don't yet feel too strongly about this parallel, though.)

Glenn Maynard

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