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Re: Changing how we handle non-free firmware

On Sun, Sep 04, 2022 at 09:57:45AM +0200, Tobias Frost wrote:
> Hi Steve,
> On Fri, Sep 02, 2022 at 09:14:53PM +0200, Kurt Roeckx wrote:
> > On Tue, Aug 30, 2022 at 03:11:25PM -0500, Richard Laager wrote:
> > > 
> > > > I like to discussion about anything related to this, so that I can at
> > > > least get an idea what the consensus is.
> > > 
> > > DSC 1 and DSC 5 have some implications about "the Debian system" vis-a-vis
> > > non-free, but the plan here is to keep the firmware in a separate
> > > non-free-firmware analogous to non-free. That seems fine to me.
> > > 
> > > DSC 1 says we will never "require the use of a non-free component". To me,
> > > this is the major relevant issue.
> > > 
> > > Proposals B and C offer users the explicit choice of media. That feels
> > > clearly compatible with the DSC, as users are not required to use non-free
> > > bits.
> > > 
> > > Proposal A will use non-free-firmware by default, but "where possible...will
> > > include ways for users to disable this". Without the "where possible", I
> > > think this opt-out is compatible with the DSC. However, if it is not
> > > possible to disable the non-free-firmware, then it feels like the system is,
> > > in fact, requiring it. Thus this option, as worded, feels potentially
> > > incompatible with the DSC.
> > 
> > It that it says "at boot". That seems to imply that it will get
> > installed, but it might not get used, which might at least surprise
> > some people. But maybe that's only for the live images.
> > 
> > Note that the SC only says: "require the use of a non-free component".
> > This can be interpreted as having it installed is not a problem as
> > long as it's not used.
> > 
> > I think there are people that want to use the official image but don't
> > want anything non-free installed, nor want it in the sources.list file.
> > So they might want to have an installer that supports that.
> > 
> > So I think I have to agree that the "where possible" is probably not
> > compatible with the SC. I think it should be more explicit that it will
> > be possible to disable the use of non-free firmware.
> > 
> > SC #5 says that contrib and non-free is not part of the Debian system.
> > But talks about CDs that can include such packages. It seems that we
> > find it acceptable that installation and live media contains non-free
> > software. But clearly there are people who don't agree with this.
> > 
> > Other questions I still have:
> > - Can a GR overrule the SC without explicitly saysing so, and does it
> >   then need a 3:1 super majority? Currently I think it should explicitly
> >   change the SC.
> > - Is opt-out good enough, or does it need to be opt-in?
> > - Does SC #5 need to be changes since we're adding a non-free-firmware
> >   section?
> > 
> > I will likely say that option A is not compatible with the SC and
> > invalid. Please either change the text, or try to convince me otherwise.
> > I did not see any arguments of why it would not conflict.
> > 
> I think that "where possible" is aimed towards that there might be systems that
> won't boot (properly) anymore, or possibly the system would not be usable for
> some people (e.g people requiring TTS), so it could be hard for them to
> actually disable them.
> Disabling _might_ be even impossible during boot, if those bits are required so
> early in the boot process that there is no way to intervene. (e.g Raspberry Pi)
> Steve, to fix the concerns by Kurt, would you accept some changes
> - to remove the words "where possible"
> - and change the next sentence to:
>   "When the installer/live system is running we will provide
>    informationa to the user about what firmware has been loaded (both
>    free and non-free) and offer to abort the installation if non-free
>    firmare has been loaded. And we will also …"
> (please rephrase as you see appropiate; English is not my native
> language and I might have missed subtlities in my wording…)
> My rationale for the second sentence is:
> (I first had this version in mind, to be added to the sentence that has
> the "where possible: I quote that now because I believe that makes it
> clearer what I have in mind, but I believe the proposoal above is more
> practical:
>  "Where disabling the firmware is not possible or feasible, (e.g it is
>  required to boot the system/installer, required by active accessiblity
>  features, etc), we will inform the user about this, and offer to abort
>  the installation.")
> - if there is a system that won't work without firemware, there won't be
>   a usable free installer for them, so for people who care, the only
>   option will be not using that system, so we should give them this
>   option as well at all. At that point, everything happended in RAM, so
>   aborting the installation will return to the previous state of the
>   device, without any permanent modifications.
> - people might not be able to make this decission before they have
>   actually loaded firmware. IIUIC for TTS systems, some AMD APU won't
>   display *anything* without firmware… So a chicken-egg problem; with the
>   second sentence they'll explicitly get a "you do not have to…" option.
> I changed my original sentence, because I'm not sure if we indeed can *always*
> *correctly* determine if a specific firmware is required in the spirit of that
> sentence.
> Kurt: Would something like my proposal be able to fix your concerns?

It addresses at least one of my concerns, so that I don't see a conflict
with one possible way to interpret the SC. But there are other ways to
interpret it, where option D seems to do it in an other way. And as
Secretary I can't say which of the interpretations is (currently)
the correct one.

I'm not sure that a GR should say what the interpretation of a document
should be. I really prefer that the document is changed instead so that
it's more clear on what it says. Is this just a "nontechnical policy
statements"? Or is a modification of foundation document without
actually modifying it? And should just a non-modification be allowed, or
does it require a 3:1 majority requirement?

I'm currently leaning towards not allowing interpretations and requiring
to actually modify the Social Contract.

Please note that the current discussion period ends the 7th, the maximum
discussion period is the 8th, which probably means I'll start the vote
the 9th or the 10th, and I think we're not actually going to be ready to
have all options like we want them by then.


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