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Re: LCC and blobs

Måns Rullgård <mru@inprovide.com> wrote:

> A firmware image is not software to the system on which Debian runs.
> What it is to another system (e.g. some PCI card) is irrelevant.

While I disagree, I don't see why we're getting hung up on this software
thing. Note that the only uses of the word "software" in the social
contract are the phrase "free software" and in references to a document
that's titled the "Debian Free Software Guidelines".

Fundamentally, whether something is software or not is *not* *the*
*issue*. We believe that everything we ship and everything it depends on
should be provided with a certain set of freedoms. You're currently
claiming that that set of freedoms is no longer necessary because the
code is located on the other side of some bus. However, you haven't said
/why/ those freedoms are no longer necessary. What is it about that code
that makes the ability to modify and distribute modified varients less

"It's difficult" is not a convincing argument. The number of people
willing to take advantage of that freedom directly may be smaller, but
I'm willing to wager that it's larger than the number of people who know
some of the languages we distribute code written in is. And that's still
not the point - the freedom to modify and distribute code is useful to
non-coders because they can hire someone to do this for them. The
freedom to modify and distribute modified firmware is useful to me
because I can pay someone other than the original manufacturer to fix my
irritating hardware bugs[1].

Why is this arbitrary line a good place to say "Oh, we don't care any

[1] I've got a soundcard that has irritating interference at certain
frequencies. This appears to be due to bugs in the dsp firmware. The
manufacturer is uninterested.

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

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