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Re: LCC and blobs

Glenn Maynard writes:

> On Thu, Jan 06, 2005 at 02:42:50PM -0500, Michael Poole wrote:
> > Brian Thomas Sniffen writes:
> > 
> > > No.  Firmware resident in RAM but put there by, say, the BIOS is
> > > fine.  We've elected not to ignore firmware which is to be handled and
> > > installed by Debian software.  You're having trouble making a coherent
> > > position out of this only because you keep recasting it in terms which
> > > aren't equivalent.  The issue at hand is whether somebody might ever
> > > download software from Debian and find it useless without additional
> To nitpick: "somebody might ever" is backwards.  We don't care if
> somebody might ever find the software useless; what we care about is
> whether everybody will find it useless.  Stuff goes in main as long as
> somebody can use it (for some reasonable value of "use", eg. not
> including Marco's contrivances that would imply the elimination of
> contrib entirely).

Anyone with a copy of the firmware and the device being driven may of
course "use" the driver, although I suspect you define that as
unreasonable.  The ambiguity of "use" is perhaps why the SC does not
define free software or dependency with that term.

> > > software which he could download... but not from Debian, since it's
> > > not Free and not packaged.
> > 
> > Why do you insist on the "downloadable" part of "useless without
> > additional software which he could download"?  I see no basis for that
> > qualification in the DFSG or policy.  I could manufacture a device
> Well, all software is downloadable (if not necessarily easily or
> legally), so I think that word is a no-op.  I think the focus, here,
> is "since it's not Free and not packaged": there seems to be a violation
> of SC#1 if the data should be included in the package for its basic
> use, but isn't for legal/freeness reasons.

The legal reason applies much more to AIM than to Debian.  The
freeness issues are where we disagree: I consider the firmware to be
part of the (inherently non-DFSG-free) hardware; you want to treat it
as related only to the driver.

The ICQ server is not free and not packaged.  Why does it get a pass?

> > We require licenses to allow inhabitants of a desert island to
> > exercise all their DFSG rights even though they live on a desert
> > island.  We should not accept software that becomes useless when used
> > on a desert island.
> Extending the desert island test in this way isn't useful.  If you're
> on a desert island, an ICQ client (and a mail client, and bittorrent, and
> lots of other things) isn't useful to you, even if you have a server to
> connect to.  The desert island test is about being able to execute
> freedoms in a vacuum; let's leave it there.

I cited an example (which you snipped) where an IM program is useful
in such a vacuum.  None of the DFSG require that the general public be
able to use the software -- it is such a fundamental right that it is
assumed -- but you want to leave this isolated user with software that
will not work as designed.

Michael Poole

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