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

Re: New section for firmware.

Hash: SHA1

Kurt Roeckx wrote:
> The idea is to create a new section that contains files like
> firmware images and FPGA data that gets written to the hardware
> to make it fully functional.  It is not meant for drivers that run
> on the host CPU.

[FWIW, I've been having a similar idea and just didn't want to post it
into the present controversal discussions.]

I have one additional suggestion and a further question to the project.

The suggestion is to add a debconf question to each installation from
that 'firmware section'. This will honestly point out to users that they
are about to install non-free stuff which is not part of debian proper [1].

Now the question:
Would this section not be better called 'sourceless'?

IMHO this would better point out, where exactly the problem with it is
(compared to 'firmware' or similar).

It might be useful to allow sourceless documentation into that section
as well. Documentation is not part of the OS in a strict sense (and also
not software in a strict sense). While I agree that documentation should
conform to the DFSG just like software, I have to admit that I believe
that the 'entry barrier' for non-free documentation on my computer
system should be lower than that for non-free code. At present both
reside in 'non-free', ie. if users activate 'non-free' aptitude will
install non-free software just as readily as a documentation pdf (even
if the license of the pdf allows modification and only the source of the
pdf is missing for some reason or other -- sometimes just neglect of

The important point is that users will get more balanced control of the
software installed on their systems: It's no longer 'main' vs the whole
evil empire of 'non-free'. While 'sourceless' firmware and pdfs will get
better Debian support (like presence on distributed media) NO non-free
software or documentation will be installed without an explicit warning
and an explicit case-by-case decision of the user. By allowing users who
presently have 'non-free' activated for things like wireless to remove
'non-free' from their sources.list, this might even contribute towards
less non-free software on Debian systems.

On the whole, I think that these section (with or without documentation)
will be of great benefit to our users. It will allow them to run Debian
on hardware that presently cannot be supported by DFSG-free software
without having to activate the whole bunch of 'non-free' software or to
  use third-party software.

Another advantage of having that additional section is that it takes
some of the burden of the RT and/or the FTP assistants. Instead of
having to decide whether to suspend the whole release process by
removing an important package, they could just move the package in
question to the new section. (Of course it wouldn't be nice to release
with the whole kernel being outside main, but as a last resort it might
be possible and it would neither be the fault nor the responsibility of
the RT).

Disclaimer: I am not a DD, so please take this as the very humble
opinion of a (serious) debian user.



[1] "Unfortunately, your hardware (xy) currently is not supported by
free software in Debian. You can now continue without installing
non-free software. This might lead to part of your hardware not working
properly. We offer the possibility to install some binary firmware. This
is non-free software with no source code available. This software is not
part of Debian and cannot be fully supported by Debian (we don't have
the sources ourselves). As long as you don't activate the 'non-free'
section of our archives, you can rest assured that Debian won't install
further non-free software without your explicit consent in a question
like this one.

"Install non-free software foo?
yes / NO"

No being the default option. Feel free to improve or discard what I
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla - http://enigmail.mozdev.org


Reply to: