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Re: Proposal: Keep non-free

[Please excuse the top post/reply, I just recently subscribed to -vote]

I agree in principal that not having non-free software is the best-case
scenario, but that time is clearly not now.  The Nvidia drivers provide
a most important example.

I have personally negotiated with several hardware vendors including
Matrox, Nvidia, and Compaq about making drivers and other support
software 100% DFSG compliant.  The success has been mixed, but in every
case, they are beginning to "see the light".  

Nvidia is the #1 or #2 video chip manufacturer in the world.  Removing
support for their product is not good for Debian.  It will only increase
support difficulties and alienate new users from trying to use Debian
software.  Debian must understand that Linux is still *very* new to many
vendors (software and hardware).  It will take some time for these
vendors to successfully integrate within the community.

In the case of video drivers, there is a lot of proprietary intellectual
property that is built into the software driver to make the thing "go". 
In many instances, it is licensed from a third party, so the vendor
could not open source the driver-- even if they wanted.  Many vendors
are moving to a model where proprietary IP will be moved on chip, thus
avoiding the binary-only requirement.  These transitions will take time,
and it is important for Debian to support these efforts. 

If we abandon non-free, we are essentially telling Nvidia and other

"Thank you for taking the time to integrate your software onto our
platform, but your efforts are not good enough and we refuse to
distribute it."

Thanks, but no thanks?!?!?  That is just closed minded and is a slap in
the face to the vendors that are *writing* software for Linux.  Take a
trip down memory lane and remember how long it took to integrate
hardware before companies began to start lending assistance.  Getting
support for their products on Linux is the first step in showing them
the benefits of an open source policy. 

Remember: we are still just at the tip of the iceberg.  There are many
other vendors that have yet to integrate their products into Linux. 
Alienating Debian from those vendors that are supporting Linux right
*now* is a mistake.  

Matt Pavlovich <mpav@algx.net>

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