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Re: Opinion about non-free firmware


On Sun, 20 Feb 2011, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 01:38:19PM +0100, Gabor Kum wrote:
> > I'm a contributor of the debiancd.org project (www.debiancd.org). We are 
> > making Debian mini CDs.
> > Some people wrote us, that they need CDs with non-free firmwares. What do you 
> > think about it? Is it a good idea to make these discs with the non-free 
> > firmwares too? I think not, but please, tell me your opinion!
> This is, unsurprisingly, becoming a recurring question. The press team
> has been asked similar questions about what to include in print
> magazines that want to distribute Squeeze medias. Gabor, thanks for
> raising this question here, so that we can properly discuss it.

Funny that this question comes up now. I'm about to announce that I sell
DVD with firmwares.

> I believe that *under specific conditions* both options---with or
> without non-free firmware---are viable. The main condition I'd like to
> propose is that vendors should properly inform media receivers about
> what they are getting. In particular, vendors that decide to ship medias
> that include non-free firmware, should prominently mention on the media
> and in accompanying documentation, that the media contains not only
> Debian Squeeze but also, as a *separate* product which just happen to be
> on the same media, additional non-free firmware.

I agree, the wording on "separate product" is a bit too much but
it must be made clear that:
- the discs are unofficial (only Debian provides official images)
- they have been modified to included non-free firmwares

> I think vendors should also take good care of mentioning that the
> non-free stuff is more risky to run and that the level of support that
> is offered for it cannot be up to par with free stuff, due to the
> unavailability of source code.  The wording about support in our
> announcement [1] about non-free firmware was IMHO quite good and can be
> probably reused to some extent.

I don't agree on this. We're not putting a big fat warning "Official DVD
come without firmwares, due to this Debian might not work on your
computer" either.

While it's true that we can't support them, it's a bit of a stretch to say
it's risky to run when in fact it's needed to run your computer...

Raphaël Hertzog ◈ Debian Developer

Follow my Debian News ▶ http://RaphaelHertzog.com (English)
                      ▶ http://RaphaelHertzog.fr (Français)

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