Re: on firmware (possible proposal)
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Manoj Srivastava wrote:
>> ------------------------------ [Forward] -----------------------------
>> From: Sven Luther <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2008 21:01:13 +0100
>> - code uploaded into another cpu (a device cpu, not a SMP cpu of some
>> kind) does not run in the same memory space, and can thus not impact
>> the main software running on the host CPU.
> Impacting other software has very little to do with the
> desirability of freedom of software.
>> - code uploaded on a device cpu, is in no way less free than the case
>> where said code would be found in a flash rom or something, on the
>> contrary in some way it is more free than those cases.
> But debian does not distribute the latter, so the fact that the
> software being distributed is more free than some very non-free
> software not distributed by debian has dubious value.
Manoj, Please read my post . I suggest that the firmware is
distributed outside 'main', but within a new section: 'sourceless'.
'sourceless' is not free software, but instead is a rather restricted
sub-set of 'non-free'. See it like this: it gives users the option of
using sourceless firmware without opening the full Pandorra's box of
'non-free'. Nothing will be installed without explicitly informing the
user and asking for her/his consent to install the sourceless stuff. It
won't happen behind the user's back and they have the choice of yes or no.
I really don't like the idea that there are 'official' and 'unoffical'
installation media and that d-u will be consequently flooded by users
with installation issues.
A typical response might look like:
"Oh, yes it's well known that the official disks won't work with your
hardware. Just download the unofficial ones from www.foo.bar [*] and add
'non-free' to your 'sources.list'"
I'd rather see the debian project supporting their users and offering a
truly debian way of installing debian on both 'good' and problematic
> What shall we do with the cell, BTW? It has multiple processing
> units, and the central processing usint, if one may call it that, si
> the dispatcher, which does little work. Would the software that runs
> on the other processing units be considered to have different needs
> of freedom? Why
In my first draft of , I actually had a formulation that said that
the sourceless stuff is not allowed to add new functionality to the OS.
What I mean with this is best explained with an example, actually two:
A wireless network interface provides network functionality to the OS
like some ordnary network interface. For the CPU or the hard disk or the
OS per se it is just the same, whether the data arrive via a cable
connection or a wireless connection; for the user of the computer, of
course both are not the same.
If a GPS module just sends qualified plain ascii data (or any other set
of standardized data) over a serial port or via an usb cable, it does
not provide extra fuctionality to the OS and its firmware need not be
open source in order to qualify for inclusion in 'sourceless'. If the
GPS module, however, talks binary gibberish and thus requires some other
closed source software or firmware in order to be interpreted by the OS,
than it DOES NOT qualify for the 'sourceless' section and has to remain
You could also view this from the other way around: There must not be
any software in 'main' that would not work (at least on some hardware)
if the 'sourceless' stuff is not present. I don't notice any difference,
if my laptop is connected via the free ethernet card or the non-free
wireless (the transfer speed is limited by my dsl-provider). On the
other hand, compiz functionality is different with or without 3D.
I considered this to be to cumbersome to be added. If anyone has
better means of expressing this simple and unambiguously: Please go ahead!
The addition of a 'sourceless' section just supports our priorities for
free software. Some non-free firmware, unfortunately, is required on
some hardware just to install all the free software in 'main'.
[*] Replace www.foo.bar with the typical result of a google search on
'I'm feeling lucky'.
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