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

Matthew Wilcox wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 23, 2006 at 02:44:48PM +0200, Sven Luther wrote:
>> On Wed, Aug 23, 2006 at 06:08:08AM -0600, Matthew Wilcox wrote:
>> > I think the key distinction (as far as I'm concerned) is that Debian
>> > isn't producing a distribution for the microcontroller in my
>> > fibrechannel card, it's producing a distribution for my computer.
>> > In order to make my fibrechannel card work, it has to poke some bits
>> > in a documented way.  Even if there happens to be an ARM onboard that
>> > card that's running a program, that ARM isn't running Debian.
>> One of the purposes of having access to the prefered form of
>> modification, is to be able to fix bugs.
> Certainly, it's one of the purposes.  But I don't think we've *lost*
> anything by distributing binary firmware.

Certainly not.  That's what non-free is for, and I am in full support of
distributing binary-only firmware in non-free.  As long as it's properly
licensed, which most of the stuff at issue isn't.  :-/

> Consider the cases: 
> 1. Everything in hardware.  You're not able to fix anything without a
>    soldering iron ... and good luck to you with that.
> 2. Unmodifiable firmware in EEPROM.  Need an EEPROM programmer, and a
>    good deal of skill to fix anything.  Again, best of luck.
> 3. Binary-only firmware in the driver.  Slightly better chance of trying
>    to figure out what's going on, but still low.
> 4. Firmware source in non-preferred form.  Modifications probably
>    possible, but when the next round of changes come out from the
>    vendor, you probably have to ditch your mods.
> 5. Firmware source in preferred form.  Can send changes back to vendor,
>    everybody wins.
> (and I'm sure people can think of other finer distinctions).
> You seem to want to disallow cases 3 and 4

... in main.  Non-free exists for this.

> which makes sense from a 
> "here are the rules of data freedom, now i must follow them" point of
> view, but really don't make sense to the vendor, nor to the user.  It
> seems like an all-or-nothing approach.

Well, if you don't realize that non-free exists to make exactly this

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?...

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