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Re: Proposal - Deferment of Changes from GR 2004-003


Francesco's points on future HW and its firmware are interesting.
IMHO, it is somewhat weak to say "firmwares are OK" for Debian main
just by this argument.

Old SC can provide an exit path out of this problem by considering the
historical context of SC, I think.  Read on....

On Sat, May 01, 2004 at 11:19:22AM +0200, Francesco Paolo Lovergine wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 30, 2004 at 09:48:57PM -0700, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> > Then in this case, we would put the drivers into to contrib, and the
> > firmware into non-free.  
> Yes, and when next-generation processors will require loading firmwares
> to work, we would put them in non-free and kernels and libc in contrib. 
> At that time Debian (aka main) will become just a collection of software 
> as in the first days of GNU. Surely not a Universal OS...

That is very true and that is why we must be very careful not to be
blinded by the emotion for the "cause". The "cause" to have "100% Free"
for everything sounds good but the consequences of this action will be
too grave.

Also pragmatist [*1] does not want to miss key firmware supports on the
next Debian boot disks in main either.

By the way, people can very much argue that firmwares are software.  So
if we even take old SC words without *historical* context, these
loadable firmwares will make kernels and libc in contrib with some fancy
future CPU like one suggested by Francesco.  (IMHO, arguing them
otherwise is a tough one.) 

One exit path is to realize the *historical* document nature of the old
SC.  We agreed on to draw line between acceptable and non-acceptable
components of Debian main in the old SC based on the knowledge on
the technology of 1997.

When we interpret old SC "100% Free Software" in this historical context
of 1997, these firmware components were in the ROM which was outside of
the software we wanted to keep 100% free. Thus inclusion of such
components as binary data (firmwares) to main does not violate old SC.
Then all the problems are gone [*2].

That is why I seconded Craig's proposal to rescind old SC.

[*1] The concern raised by Theodore Ts'o that Debian is driven by the
     fringe fanatics and becoming not "Useful" is a serious charge.
     We need to be careful about the consequence of our action to avoid
     it.  I think this will be the first step. 

[*2] Of course I want compliance to DSFG for everything too.  Any
     so called "non-software" components which will be placed on main
     need to have very good excuses.

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