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Re: Proposed wording for the SC modification

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Ean Schuessler wrote:
> ----- "Peter Palfrader" <weasel@debian.org> wrote:
>> This is not part of my GR as proposed and seconded.
>> If anybody wants to change the words of either the DFSG or the SC
>> they will need to propose an amendmend.
>> As proposed this clarifies my and other people's view of what our 
>> foundation documents mean.  You are welcome to add a 
>> note/comment/explanation to the SC, but this doesn't modify it.
> A desktop with a "host cpu" and components with "firmware" is
> directly analogous to a small cluster of computers. There is no
> *real* difference between a host programming its RAID controller and
> a cluster manager handing a blade its boot image. You are engaging in
> a mental evasion that, for you, allows your proposal to make sense.
> If you want this proposal to become law then you must come to terms
> with the fact that you are asking the project to distribute small
> non-free programs for execution on a variety of (usually) simplified
> architectures attached to the system by some network/bus. In the case
> of graphics, TOE, iSCSI and RAID the attached controller may not even
> be that much less capable than the "host". Trying to differentiate
> between a USB bus and an Ethernet network in any meaningful way just
> blurs the picture further. I have drivers installed that upload
> firmware to my MIDI keyboard. I extracted the firmware from the
> windows executable they shipped me. Is my usb-attached sythensizer a
> computer? Do you want my Windows EXE extracted firmware in main? I
> can probably get m-Audio to approve us including it.

I would rather ask two different questions:

Do you want to install Debian/free software on your computer?
Do you want to install Debian/free software on your
keyboard/router/other device as well?

These are two distinct questions.

If you want to run debian and/or free software on your
keyboard/router/etc. as well, than you'd have to select the hardware
accordingly, ie buy hardware that is fully supported by free software.
In this case you would also look out for open source bios and other code
that might be present in ROM or other places of your hardware.

Actually, I'm quite sure that there are many, many users out there, who
want to install and run Debian on their computer, but who can not find a
laptop with all the features they require and all the sources available
for all the components of the laptop (eg. wireless). There are a lot of
users who prefer using Debian + the odd sourceless firmware instead of
switching to an even less free alternative.

> You are asking the project to distribute a certain class of non-free
> software out of convenience. To square that act with our social
> contract you must alter our social contract's meaning. There is no
> way around it. Remember, the point of Debian is to keep code off of
> your computer that you can't understand (or at least have the
> opportunity to understand). If you don't have the source for your
> machine's behavior, or are locked out of it, you can't know for sure
> what it is doing with your information. We want to be sure and so do
> our *real* users.

The firmware code is kept off your computer. It adds no functionality
to the OS compared to other users who have hardware without firmware or
hardware with 'firmware stuff' hardwired to the hardware.

One might even argue that the firmware is not part of the OS just as the
BIOS is not part of the OS (Please, take this with a grain of salt, I
don't intend to start new round of hair splitting).


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