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Re: Etch timeline is unrealistic because non-free firmware is NOT being dealt with

Daniel Dickinson <cshore@wightman.ca> writes:

> On Sun, 06 Aug 2006 23:52:01 +0200
> Goswin von Brederlow <brederlo@informatik.uni-tuebingen.de> wrote:
>> They have always been a problem and have always violated the license
>> of the rest of the kernel. It is just that nobody noticed or cared
>> before but now the cat is out of the sack and the issue is a release
>> blocker.
>> Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But now we have seen the (ugly) light.
> I think there are two separate issues; one is whether debian can
> distribute the blobls and the other of whether distribution violates
> the social contract.  For the first part, since most of blobs are
> probably extracted from non-free windows drivers, there probably is no
> vendor-stated permission to distributed the blobs, which could become
> the source of lawsuits if some company felt it was worth the bad PR
> (think SCO only with a legal foot to stand on).
> If permission is given to distribute the blobs unmodified (i.e. read
> from disk, upload to device), then the question is about the social
> contract.  Personally I think firmware blobs shouln't be covered,
> because the reasons free software is important don't apply.  As long as
> you have the hardware for which the blob was written (and the
> other hardware the device is compatible with), the firmware will work.
> It's a black box, that happens to be loaded on initialization instead
> in an ROM (AIUI).

Both issues can require the removal of the blob from the kernel
image. The difference then only is if it goes to non-free or disapears

I hope nobody disagrees that blobs that can not be distributed must
be removed no matter how inconvenient it is. There can be no excuse to
break the law given that much forwarning since sarge.

As for the ones that are distributable but not 100% free I still think
a proper SC conform handling should be applied and they should move to

I also, maybe even more strongly, think that they should still be
included in the (or one flavour of) install images. Debian provides
non-free for the convenience of users where no free alternatives
exists. Firmware blobs fit perfectly there.


PS: There is also the issue of comercial use of those blobs. Can I
comercialy distribute CDs with those blobs?

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