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Re: New section for firmware.

On Wednesday 24 December 2008, Don Armstrong wrote:
> 1: -vote really is the wrong list to discuss this on; Cc'ing debian-cd
> so knowledgeable people there can tell me I'm on crack.

Yes, I'm afraid you are ;-)

First of all, this does not only affect CD images, but installer images in 
general (think netboot), so possibly d-boot would have been even more 

Second of all, the analysis for the impact on installations of firmware 
and why the D-I team would very much prefer to have any firmware included 
both on official CD images and in other D-I images (such as netboot, 
floppy and hd-media) has already been done and posted by Joey Hess ages 
ago and discussed repeatedly, both on the debian-boot list and on d-vote, 
and I'm quite certain also on d-project and/or d-devel.

I'm sorry that I cannot currently be bothered to look up and provide the 
exact references, but they should be simple enough to find.

The debian-cd and installer teams have equally repeatedly explained what 
the cost of duplicating CD images (in terms of mirror space, release and 
testing effort and increased user confusion) is and why they would prefer 
a solution where inclusion of firmware needed for basic hardware support 
(HID, network, USB/SCSI/...) would be allowed for official images for all 
installation methods.

The D-I team considers the option that was very recently implemented by 
Joey Hess to allow users to load firmware from external media to be 
sub-optimal *workaround*: it does not solve all use-cases, has various 
usability issues and results in increased demand for user support.
The implementation can still be improved somewhat, but it is close to the 
best support that can be offered given the current restrictions.

We are also unhappy that the current method does mean that many users 
*will* now get non-free included in their sources list "by default" if 
firmware is loaded. My personal opinion is that having firmware in a 
separate section so that we'd only need to *that* section. It seems to me 
that would be a solution that is much closer to the spirit of the social 
contract than what we are forced to do currently.

It's a pity that we seem to need to explain this over and over again in 
random threads. I would be great if the project could instead decide to 
do a structural analysis of the issue, present the findings and options 
and then just put the matter to a vote based on the outcome of that.


Note: this mail was sent without previously checking its opinions with 
other D-I and d-cd team members, but AFAIK it does accurately reflect the 
opinion of at least the core members of both teams. They are of course 
welcome to follow up and correct me if that is not the case.

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