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Re: Question about linux-wlan-ng-firmware in main

Simon Richter <Simon.Richter@hogyros.de> writes:

> Hi,
> Goswin von Brederlow schrieb:
>> But does it have any use without the non-free firmware? Only then can
>> you close an eye and let it stay in main due to its other functions.
> Yes: Loading free firmware. Whether such a thing exists is largely
> irrelevant; for the loader, it is just data, and we do not
> discriminate on fields of endeavour (i.e. it is fine to copy your
> non-free data around as you like it, even into your hardware if you so
> choose).

I disagree there. As long as there is no way to create free firmware
(no specs, secret checksum/signature, ...) or even as long as nobody
has done so the package has no practical use in main (without the
non-free firmware) and belongs to contrib. The purely theoretical
(untill someone does it) use of creating free firmware is no argument
for main in my opinion. Having it in contrib is no hardship for users.

> A downloader package is a bit of grey area; much like a typical
> "contrib" package, it has some more-or-less hardcoded string that
> points to non-free data; it does not, however, depend on anything
> outside of main to function (since main is enough to get a network up
> and running, and the web service, while not dealing with free
> software, is not Debian's concern as it is only between the user and
> the company publishing the data files).

It depends on software not in debian to function properly. If the
firmware is no longer supplied on the firms webserver then the
donwload package stops working. Imho that is a clear dependency even
if it doesn't fall under the "Depends:" field.

> The real problem with firmware in my opinion is that it ignites a
> flamewar between people that don't really care whether they have free
> software as long as it works, and free software purists that want to
> be able to change their entire system, including the firmware. The
> former group usually emphasizes that "our priority are our users", the
> latter "our priority is free software".

The problem only arises when people want to include non-free firmware
in main with such excuses as "this isn't software" or "it isn't run on
your cpu". Just like anything else firmware can be free (like the
adaptec firmware in the kernel source) or non-free and must be placed
as such in main or non-free. Purist can then choose not to use
non-free while sane people do.

> We have yet to find a sane middle ground; largely because it would
> probably be "display a dialog educating the user that they are now
> leaving the wonderful world of free software where you can expect the
> development team to consist of actual humans that reply to bug
> reports, and entering the evil corporate dystopia where emails are
> answered by 'your opinion is very important to us'" -- and this would
> upset both groups ("You zealots should not pester the users with your
> ideology all the time" vs. "Yeah, as if somebody read all those
> messages").
> Good ideas welcome.
>     Simon


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