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Re: Proposal: The DFSG do not require source code for data, including firmware

* Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> [060823 17:31]:
> If you can find a single hard drive on the market that doesn't contain 
> some sort of firmware, I'll be greatly impressed. Or, for that matter, a 
> vaguely modern processor. Let alone bootstrapping a system (LinuxBIOS 
> will suffice for a very small range of hardware), running a modern 
> network card, using a graphics chip for any purpose other than 
> unaccelerated 2D, or, well, pretty much any piece of hardware on the 
> market today. For all practical purposes, it's impossible to obtain 
> hardware that doesn't depend on firmware.

In case it was not clear I was discussing things where firmware is also

I've never seen BIOSes being part of the Operating system, but you can get
hardware that runs with LinuxBios. I've not yet met a hard drive (as
opposed to all kind of Bus controlers) needing any firmware before
operating. I don't know about new graphic cards (all I really need is
2D), but looking at how ugly the drivers are and what a secret even
communicating with the hardware is for the vendors, I really doubt any
firmware on the card is involved. Network cards I never looked to
deeply, but most of them were so small I really doubt they are more than
plain hardware. WLan cards might be something different, but I never
used them.

> Yeah, motherboard chipsets are probably about the only thing on a modern 
> system that isn't obviously microcoded. Shame that the drives you plug 
> into them are - vendors often provide firmware upgrades for IDE drives.

OK, never saw that drives. But where is the problem with them. Works
without needing any non-free stuff being put in the operating systems
and people might be able to replace it. No good example.

> I'm entirely happy with us making it clear that firmware isn't 
> free-as-in-DFSG. I'm not happy about us leaving it out of the default 
> install images.

> > I'm not saying we should refuse to ship non-free code. I've voted to
> > keep non-free in the last GR about it. I'm against putting things in
> > Debian which are not free. If it is in Debian, I want to be sure that
> > I am allowed to modify it and get it working with some work. If I' bye
> > stuff with ROMed firmware I know it is in there and what I have to
> > expect. 
> If you believe that you can buy hardware without ROM firmware, then I 
> think it's pretty clear that you don't know it is in there.

If it is direct hardware or a ROM, it does not matter that much in
there. If there is a ROM at all. In days where modems have no
modulator/demodulator chips any more, there are not that much things
where people would put processors in.

Put again, what part instead if my BIOS (which mostly runs in CPU so
some people might not call it firmware, and at least with PCs is never
needed to be shipped by a driver) and IDE drivers (which also always
come with some pre-installed firmware, so not relevant), is found in
every cheap box? (assuming to wireless).

> > If I have to get in from the non-free section, I know I'll have
> > no chance and try to buy something where the manufacturer gave specs
> > and someone worked on them. If everything is in main I'm lured in a
> > false feeling of security and have no easy way to distinguish and
> > choose the vendor with a free firmware.
> Or you'll go and buy some hardware with the firmware in eeprom where 
> it's a pain to replace with free firmware.

As I said. As long as noone cares for free firmwares, what difference
does it make? I the vendor opens the specs, there should be a free one
and not problems. If it does not open the specs the eeprom version has
the advantage to work even when the firmware-binary gets lost and
the manufacturer might have tested it before. (Or introduced something
to replace the firmware, which again defeats your point).

	Bernhard R. Link

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