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I have a naive question about binary firmware in Debian. I appreciate
your patience with me!

I just noticed a new package in squeeze, firmware-linux, which contains
the binary firmware that was formerly included in Debian kernels. I'm
glad to see that it has been pulled out, so that we can decide for
ourselves if we need or want it on our systems, at least when the next
kernel update makes it's way into testing.

What I want to know is what kinds of problems I might experience when I
move to a 'free' kernel? Are these problems easily discoverable when I
switch? I'm most concerned about two possibilities - my system becomes
inoperable due to some dependency on binary firmware; or the absence of
the firmware introduces some subtle change that may cause headaches
without providing a clear indication that the lack of firmware is the
source of the problem.

Any explanations would be welcome,



ps. I'm running Squeeze on a Thinkpad R60, but I'm interested in the
general case as well.

I have no "intellectual property," and I think that all claimants to 
such property are thieves.             --Wendell Berry


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