[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

The bigger issue is badly licensed blobs (was Re: Firmware poll

Ron Johnson wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> Luk Claes wrote:
>> -=-=-=-=-=- Don't Delete Anything Between These Lines =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
>> 6c557439-9c21-4eec-ad6c-e6384fab56a8
>> [ 1 ] Choice 1: Release etch on time
>> [ 3 ] Choice 2: Do not ship sourceless firmware in main
>> [ 2 ] Choice 3: Support hardware that requires sourceless firmware
>> [   ] Choice 4: None of the above
>> -=-=-=-=-=- Don't Delete Anything Between These Lines =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
> [Non-DD opinion]
> [ x ] Choice 5: Ship *BLOBs* (does *not* mean closed-source
>                 drivers like nvidia) that can be legally
>                 redistributed, do not ship BLOBs that can
>                 not be legally redistributed.

It's worth noting for purposes of discussion the actual numbers here.

>From http://doolittle.icarus.com/~larry/fwinventory/2.6.17.html we find:

* 14 free pieces of firmware with source code (great)
* 46 drivers requesting BLOBs from userland (OK)
* 47 BLOBs which can't be legally redistributed (bad)
* 6 addditional BLOBs removed from Debian which can't be legally
redistributed (bad)
* at least 2 BLOBs (radeon and r128) which appear to be shipped with
false copyright statements (bad), but if not, then are distributable.
* the 12 keyspan BLOBs, removed from Debian, which have a unique license
which makes them distributable in the linux kernel package, but makes it
unclear whether they can be legally distributed as an addon package!
* 1 BLOB in Debian (emi26) with a license like the keyspan BLOBs.
* 9 BLOBs which can definitely be legally redistributed (in five drivers:
mga_warp, tg3, typhoon, advansys, qla2xxx).

So frankly the output of this entire discussion isn't going to cover very
many BLOBs: exactly seven drivers will definitely be allowed to go into or
stay in main for etch if 'sourceless firmware' is allowed without other

Of those, one (tg3) functions without the BLOBs for most cards and has been
converted to userland firmware loading, and one (qla2xxx) has
firmware loading code included upstream but disabled -- so those two
are among the very easiest cases for moving the BLOBs to non-free.  I've
also volunteered to work on converting advansys to userland firmware
loading, and to test anyone else's advansys conversion.

The majority of the BLOBs have serious licensing problems,
which won't be addressed by any decision regarding free, non-free, source,
or sourceless material.

Debian must decide whether it wants to ship BLOBs with licensing which
technically does not permit redistribution.  At least 53 blobs have this
problem.  Many of them are licensed under the GPL, but without source code
provided.  Since the GPL only grants permission to distribute if you
provide source code, the GPL grants no permission to distribute in these

However, presumably the manufacturers who (in nearly all cases) provided the
BLOBs intended them to be distributed -- although they never granted a
proper license.  (Of course, for all I know perhaps some of the
manufacturers were evil geniuses and knew perfectly well they weren't
granting a proper license, intending to cause trouble later.)  Debian needs
to make a decision on how it will deal with this legal minefield.  That is
higher priority than the entire discussion going on right now, because it
determines whether Debian will distribute these 53 BLOBs *at all*,
in 'main' or in 'non-free'.

Oddly enough nobody has proposed a GR addressing this, and Debian continues
to ship 47 improperly licensed files in linux-2.6.  If I were SCO, I'd buy
up the copyrights to them from the original companies, and then I'd have a
real case for a lawsuit.

Nathanael Nerode  <neroden@fastmail.fm>

Bush admitted to violating FISA and said he was proud of it.
So why isn't he in prison yet?...

Reply to: