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Re: on firmware (possible proposal)

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Steve McIntyre wrote:
> Absolutely. I'm looking into creating such "unofficial" CDs already as
> part of the regular builds. 

> I think I agree with the suggestion of creating a new archive section
> for firmware - packages that are acknowledged to not meet the same
> standards as main, but checked so that we know they're still legally
> shippable by default on official installation media. 

I would propose to create a new section of the archive, called 'sourceless' or such.
Stuff within this archive doesn't have full sources. It is legally distributable and
follows the DFSG with the only exception of missing sources. On top of the DFSG it is
required that software in 'sourceless' _must not be executed_ on the host CPU.
'sourcless' therfore applies to firmware as well as eg. documentation pdfs or images
without source.

On each installation of such firmware or documentation a debconf question is asked and
the user is warned that this is not part of 'main' and informed that the sources are
missing. (Install this software, despite the fact that sources are not available. /
Don't install this software.)

This won't hide any problems to the user and give them an opportunity to install certain
limited 'non-free' stuff without activating 'non-free' as a whole. Importantly, it also
gives them an option to only install open source software.

It will also simplify the job of the maintainers (or ftpmasters, RMs, etc.). They simply
to move the relevant packages from 'main' to 'sourcless'. This won't break anything for
the user, since 'sourceless' is activated by default (via the debconf questions). (Since
the code is not executed on the host's CPU, dependencies should not be a problem.)

Installation media might carry a label that firmware is included along with the free
software from debian 'main', if it is believed that this is necessary (on top of the
debconf questions).

I hope that it will be possible to ship installation media prepared in this manner as
official media without the need of having both 'official' and 'unofficial' images,
reducing the amount of confusion...




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