DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices - Debian

This is a discussion on DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices - Debian ; On Fri, Nov 07, 2008 at 12:47:01PM +0000, David Given wrote: > In which case things have changed within the past couple of years --- > after all, the whole purpose of the Atheros HAL was to inforce those FCC ...

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Thread: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

  1. DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Fri, Nov 07, 2008 at 12:47:01PM +0000, David Given wrote:
    > In which case things have changed within the past couple of years ---
    > after all, the whole purpose of the Atheros HAL was to inforce those FCC
    > limits. Do you have any references? Like, to an FCC statement of policy
    > change? If so, it would be extremely useful to have.


    There are corporate lawyers who are very much afraid that the FCC
    could, if they were alerted to the fact that someone had figured out
    how to reverse engineer the HAL and/or the firmware to cause their
    WiFi unit to become a "super radio" that could transmit on any
    frequency, that the FCC could prohibit the *hardware* from being sold
    anywhere in the US. Given that the US is a rather large market, and
    that some of these providers sell a very large number of WiFi units in
    laptops (i.e., HP, Lenovo, Del, etc.), and where only a *small*
    percentage of said units will ever run Linux, and even smaller, vastly
    infintisimal percentage of those systems will run Debian, the reality
    is that you look at the downside risk of not being able to sell, say
    iwl4965 chipsets and having millions and millions of suddenly useless
    pieces of silicon become the governments stop allowing said unit from
    being sold, and weigh that against a very small number of Debian users
    not being able to use the wireless unit out of the box, it's really a
    no-brainer to guess how the WiFi manufacturers will react.

    So realistically, let's be honest with ourselves. Not supporting
    devices that require non-free firmwares is not going to help make the
    world a better place. What it will probably do is that users, once
    they find out that that a Debian install will result in various bits
    and pieces of their hardware being non-functional until they figure
    out how to download various magic firmware components, or manually
    configuring the non-free repository, will probably simply switch to
    another distribution, such as Fedora or Ubuntu. At which point there
    will be even *fewer* Debian users, and so Debian will have even *less*
    leverage.

    Now, if the majority will of Debian is that all bits distributed by
    the Debian distribution must be DFSG free, even if it doesn't run on
    host processor, and we should hold up the release until this can be
    accomplished, that's a legitimate choice. That choice will have
    consequences; in the meantime more users will simply switch to other
    distributions, and Debian can be the distribution with a tiny niche
    number of users, with developers shaking their fists about how they
    are Free, just as OpenBSD users can shake their fists about how they
    are Secure (but have almost no users).

    Another choice open to Debian is to make it easier for users to opt
    into downloading firmware --- perhaps by making very easy through the
    installer to select the non-free section. That choice also has
    consequences. For one, it won't help in the cases where the non-free
    firmware is needed for the system to boot, or to access the network in
    order to download the non-free .debs. (I'm assuming for the sake of
    argument that it would be considered verboten to ship non-free
    firmware in the Debian installer CD-ROM.) Fortunately for us, at the
    moment I am not aware of large numbers of highly popular laptops or
    servers for which non-free firmware is necessary before the firmware
    would be able to access the network. This could potentially happen in
    the future if there are netbooks that only have wifi networking, for
    example.

    Another consequence of making it easy for the users to add non-free to
    the repositories so they can download firmware necessary to make their
    hardware useful is that a huge number of users may end up enabling
    non-free just to make their hardware work, and then they may end up
    installing even more non-free packages on their system. It's much
    like the argument that the current copyright laws around downloading
    music is insane, because it increases the disrespect of all laws, and
    we are training an entire generation of users that breaking copyright
    law so they can download their favorite music or video torrents is OK.

    Yet another choice which Debian could choose is to create a new
    firmware section; this would allow users to only be able to select
    non-free firmware, without accidentally installing other non-free
    packages. This has the advantage of more fined-grained control of
    what users might want or not want to install on their systems. The
    firmware section would be just as non-free as the non-free section,
    but for people for whom the distinction of running on the host CPU or
    not has meaning, it gives them a way of allowing some non-free
    packages on their systems, but not others. For people who feel
    passionately that they will not abide any non-free software, they can
    choose not to install from the firmware and non-free sections.

    The final choice which Debian could make is to ignore the problem and
    punt making one of the above decisions for yet another release. This
    seems to be the path that the Release Manageers have chosen to follow.
    There has been work to separate out the firmware from the kernel so as
    to make it easier to implement one of the above mentioned options,
    without making the "Debian Stable == Debian Obsolete" tautology even
    more painfully true.

    The passionate argumentation on the list is due to the fact that it's
    pretty clear that we do *NOT* have consensus about the path forward.
    Some feel very strongly that non-DFSG free firmware a fundamental evil
    that they can not abide for even one more Debian release. Others
    think getting a release out the door is more importants; still others
    have advocated for some other intermediate solutions that have
    different tradeoffs between how much the release is delayed with what
    kind of functionality will be lost by users who have hardware that
    absolutely requires non-free firmware, for whatever reason, and how
    hard those users will have to work to install Debian.

    How do I feel about this whole mess? Given I'm a kernel developer who
    builds my own kernels, it doesn't affect me much personally, except
    that we may end up being in freeze for a very long time while these
    issues are being sorted out, which would be highly annoying on a
    number of levels.

    If it would stop the flames, maybe the best thing to do would be to
    simply strip all non-free firmware from the kernel, and if a driver
    needs a non-free firmware, to simply not configure it. That way the
    people who believe very strongly about DFSG for everything can get
    their wish. If it produces a huge number of regressions, and large
    numbers of users find that their hardware doesn't work, so be it. It
    might end up pushing a large number of users to Ubuntu; it might cause
    people to do a mini-fork of Debian which replaces the installer and
    kernel with a version that works on commonly available laptops, and
    users who want, you know, a useful system and not a paperweight, will
    simply switch to that mini-Fork.

    At least it would stop the constant flaming.

    It seems pretty obvious that the two sides (those who care about users
    having useful systems that previously worked with Etch be able to
    upgrade to Lenny without losing functionality and those who care about
    enforcing a strict DFSG on all bits distributed by Debian) have views
    that are irreconcileable, given the reality as it exists today --- and
    furthermore, this reality is one that is not likely to change in the
    near future.

    So while I am personally of the DFSG only makes sense for executable
    *software* that runs on the host CPU, previous GR's have shown that
    this position has a distinct minority. So why not let the DFSG
    hard-liners win this one completely? The current kernel team, if they
    can't abide by making a largely useless .deb package for symbolism's
    sake only, can also help out on creating an alternate kernel and
    alternate installer which many users who have need of it can actually
    use. Yeah, it's more work, but compared with all of the time people
    have wasted flaming on the subject, maybe it would be a way to make
    progress.

    Just a thought.

    - Ted


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  2. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sat, 08 Nov 2008, Theodore Tso wrote:

    > Fortunately for us, at the
    > moment I am not aware of large numbers of highly popular laptops or
    > servers for which non-free firmware is necessary before the firmware
    > would be able to access the network.


    HP DL360 G5:
    firmware-bnx2
    (Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme II BCM5708 Gigabit Ethernet)

    Yes, I was really thrilled when I found out we can't install lenny in
    any sane way on debian.org hardware.
    --
    | .''`. ** Debian GNU/Linux **
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  3. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    Thomas Bushnell BSG writes:

    > Regardless, the DFSG doesn't say anything about "unless the FCC has
    > an annoying rule". We don't distribute non-free software in Debian.


    To forestall yet another round of debate about software vs. firmware:
    We don't distribute non-free *anything* in Debian. That's what our
    users are promised, at any rate.

    > And that's not some sort of choice we might make--it's a a choice we
    > have already made.


    Thank you.

    --
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    `\ the Internet deserves the highest protection from governmental |
    _o__) intrusion.” —U.S. District Court Judge Dalzell |
    Ben Finney


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  4. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    Peter wrote:
    >On Sat, 08 Nov 2008, Theodore Tso wrote:
    >
    >> Fortunately for us, at the
    >> moment I am not aware of large numbers of highly popular laptops or
    >> servers for which non-free firmware is necessary before the firmware
    >> would be able to access the network.

    >
    >HP DL360 G5:
    > firmware-bnx2
    > (Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme II BCM5708 Gigabit Ethernet)
    >
    >Yes, I was really thrilled when I found out we can't install lenny in
    >any sane way on debian.org hardware.


    Lots of currently-shipping Dell servers seem to be using the same
    hardware too. That's already bitten me at my day job, where we have
    lots of them.

    --
    Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK. steve@einval.com
    < sladen> I actually stayed in a hotel and arrived to find a post-it
    note stuck to the mini-bar saying "Paul: This fridge and
    fittings are the correct way around and do not need altering"


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  5. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sun, 2008-11-09 at 00:39 +0100, Peter Palfrader wrote:
    > On Sat, 08 Nov 2008, Theodore Tso wrote:
    >
    > > Fortunately for us, at the
    > > moment I am not aware of large numbers of highly popular laptops or
    > > servers for which non-free firmware is necessary before the firmware
    > > would be able to access the network.

    >
    > HP DL360 G5:
    > firmware-bnx2
    > (Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme II BCM5708 Gigabit Ethernet)
    >
    > Yes, I was really thrilled when I found out we can't install lenny in
    > any sane way on debian.org hardware.


    The crazy thing is, this is an on-board controller that supports PXE
    boot, so it must be usable without loading firmware from the disk. But
    I suspect the current driver requires the controller to do more than the
    ROM/flash firmware does.

    Ben.


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  6. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    This one time, at band camp, Ben Hutchings said:
    > On Sun, 2008-11-09 at 00:39 +0100, Peter Palfrader wrote:
    > > On Sat, 08 Nov 2008, Theodore Tso wrote:
    > >
    > > > Fortunately for us, at the
    > > > moment I am not aware of large numbers of highly popular laptops or
    > > > servers for which non-free firmware is necessary before the firmware
    > > > would be able to access the network.

    > >
    > > HP DL360 G5:
    > > firmware-bnx2
    > > (Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme II BCM5708 Gigabit Ethernet)
    > >
    > > Yes, I was really thrilled when I found out we can't install lenny in
    > > any sane way on debian.org hardware.

    >
    > The crazy thing is, this is an on-board controller that supports PXE
    > boot, so it must be usable without loading firmware from the disk. But
    > I suspect the current driver requires the controller to do more than the
    > ROM/flash firmware does.


    My understanding (admittedly possibly wildly wrong) is that the card
    does work without any firmware, but doesn't support the full range of
    features without it. The current driver unfortunately doesn't seem to
    handle both cases at the moment.
    --
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  7. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 4:11 AM, Theodore Tso wrote:

    > Another choice open to Debian is to make it easier for users to opt
    > into downloading firmware --- perhaps by making very easy through the
    > installer to select the non-free section.


    For machines where non-free firmware is required, lenny d-i defaults
    to adding non-free and installing that firmware. I found this out when
    installing on my laptop, which contains an Intel 3945 wireless chip.

    Linux upstream seems to be making moves towards removing all firmware
    from the kernel tarball and shipping it in a separate tarball and git
    repository anyway. This seems to be driven by Fedora and Red Hat folks
    (such as David Woodhouse).

    --
    bye,
    pabs

    http://wiki.debian.org/PaulWise


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  8. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sun, Nov 09, 2008 at 12:21:26PM +0900, Paul Wise wrote:
    > On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 4:11 AM, Theodore Tso wrote:
    >
    > > Another choice open to Debian is to make it easier for users to opt
    > > into downloading firmware --- perhaps by making very easy through the
    > > installer to select the non-free section.

    >
    > For machines where non-free firmware is required, lenny d-i defaults
    > to adding non-free and installing that firmware. I found this out when
    > installing on my laptop, which contains an Intel 3945 wireless chip.


    Oooh.... does that means Debian is distributing non-free bits? My
    suggestion is that we either change the DFSG, or drop it so that it
    complies with the DFSG, like the DFSG hard-liners want.

    - Ted


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  9. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 2:42 PM, Theodore Tso wrote:

    > Oooh.... does that means Debian is distributing non-free bits?


    Yes, same as we've been doing for years - in the non-free part of the archive.

    --
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    pabs

    http://wiki.debian.org/PaulWise


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  10. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: [not] Summarizing the choices

    On Sun, 2008-11-09 at 00:39 -0500, Theodore Tso wrote:
    > On Sat, Nov 08, 2008 at 05:05:50PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
    > >
    > > But now we have this claim that the FCC's well-understood rule about
    > > hardware does not apply to software: that software modifications *are*
    > > traceable back to the manufacturer, even though hardware modifications
    > > are not. Oddly, however, in all these conversations, we've never seen
    > > any indication that this is really the FCC's policy.

    >

    [..]
    > So if people think that they are going to be able to get firmware in
    > source form so that popular wireless chips can be driven using 100%
    > DFSG pure firmware, I suspect they will have a very long wait ahead of
    > them. The issue is that software controlled radios are cheaper, and
    > that drives the mass market, so that will be what most manufacturers
    > will use.


    Having the firmware stored in flash memory would actually be a
    regression as far as quality is concerned:
    - ipw2100 firmware was updated 4 times (current version is 1.3)
    - ipw2200 firmware was updated about 7 times (v3.0)
    - ipw3945 firmware probably had multiple updates (v1.14.2).
    - iwl3945 firmware had multiple updates (v15.28.1.8).
    - iwl4965 firmware probably had multiple updates (v228.57.2.21).
    You can look for others. See http://wiki.debian.org/Firmware

    If we ever "succeed" in getting hardware manufacturer to ship their
    firmware on flash memory, that would mean that 99% of users will use
    outdated/buggy firmware. (How many of you regularly check their laptop
    manufacturer for firmware upgrade?)

    > > And none of this is really relevent: the DFSG and the Social Contract do
    > > not contain an exception for dishonest or scared hardware manufacturers,
    > > or stupid FCC policies.

    >
    > Neither does it (currently) contain an exception for debian.org
    > machines, or very popular Dell machines with Broadcom ethernet
    > firmware. Great! Cut them off!! Let's see how quickly we can get
    > users moving to non-official kernels and installers when the official
    > ones don't work for them. Then we can stop fighting about it. The
    > DFSG hard liners can go on using the DFSG free kernels, and everyone
    > else can either move to another distribution or use an unofficially
    > forked kernel package and installer.


    That's exactly the current situation: If one don't want non-free
    firmwares, he/she just don't use them.

    BTW, I have just checked... In order to install Windows Vista on my
    laptop, I would have to download about 20 different drivers. By asking
    users to download one single tarball with non-free firmware we provide a
    much easier experience.

    Franklin


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  11. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    Ben Finney (2008-11-09 10:54 +1100) wrote:

    > We don't distribute non-free *anything* in Debian. That's what our
    > users are promised, at any rate.


    Yes, this claim has been repeated many times, but as a thought-exercise
    let us be more concrete: who exactly are those users who have been
    promised? I mean, we know what the DFSG paper says but what and where is
    the group of people (users) who got that promise and are deeply in their
    hearts relying on Debian to keep it *in the context of firmwares*?

    As far as I know, none of us have made a survey for Debian users and
    studied how they want this "promise" to be applied when it comes to
    firmware blobs. Neither have I. So when discussing this matter I'd say
    that it's a lot more *honest* to point directly to the words and
    sentences in the DFSG paper than to some supposed group of people who is
    supposed to rely on some supposed promise. Argumentation based on
    "general opinion" is not valid unless one has some facts what this
    general opinion is.

    (I'm sorry for the following religious reference in this
    international and multi-cultural community but this is only a side
    note. As you know, some people have the Bible as their guide. In
    many ways it's a very good guide - in my opinion - but at the same
    time I think it's a really bad guide if you take every bit in the
    book literally and refuse to consider the current reality [which is
    always social construction]. Firmware blobs didn't exist when Jesus
    lived, and I believe most Debian users understand this.)

    I like the point Theodore Ts'o made about what is or isn't "going to
    help make the world a better place." In my opinion being too extremist
    doesn't serve one's wider goals (if such thing exist) but the person
    himself.

    I don't care what category firmware blobs are in Debian (non-free or
    whatever), but I think firmware which is separated from hardware is
    definitely not evil. They are even a good thing, and therefore
    *hardware* which can be supported through free drivers should be
    supported out-of-the-box by the Debian installer.


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  12. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    Le samedi 08 novembre 2008 * 18:55 -0500, Theodore Tso a écrit :
    > And as I said, I think we should let the DFSG hard-liners win. Let's
    > yank all of the binaries that require a firmware, and release Lenny
    > as-is. If that causes some users switch to some fork that actually
    > has a kernel that works for them, given their hardware, or said users
    > switch to Ubuntu, then so be it. At least we'll stop flaming about
    > the issue.


    Why in the world would we do that when we have all that’s needed to
    simply move the firmware images to non-free?

    The only decision pending is whether we should delay the release to fix
    this issue. Current discussions on -devel are mostly about why the
    situation is as is, and how to interact with manufacturers.

    So please go away with the kind of ideas that simply say “**** off” to
    our users.

    Thanks,
    --
    .''`.
    : :' : We are debian.org. Lower your prices, surrender your code.
    `. `' We will add your hardware and software distinctiveness to
    `- our own. Resistance is futile.

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  13. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sat, 08 Nov 2008 22:24:16 -0800, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:

    > On Sun, 2008-11-09 at 00:39 -0500, Theodore Tso wrote:
    >> > And none of this is really relevent: the DFSG and the Social Contract
    >> > do not contain an exception for dishonest or scared hardware
    >> > manufacturers, or stupid FCC policies.

    >>
    >> Neither does it (currently) contain an exception for debian.org
    >> machines, or very popular Dell machines with Broadcom ethernet
    >> firmware. Great! Cut them off!! Let's see how quickly we can get
    >> users moving to non-official kernels and installers when the official
    >> ones don't work for them. Then we can stop fighting about it. The
    >> DFSG hard liners can go on using the DFSG free kernels, and everyone
    >> else can either move to another distribution or use an unofficially
    >> forked kernel package and installer.

    >
    > Why not just support it in non-free exactly the way we do other things?
    >
    > Thomas


    I'd prefer to see firmware in a separate section, because it will be
    easier to get that section enabled by default for new installs. This will
    mean that the installer, or something hooked up to udev/hal, etc., will
    be able to automatically install the packages that the user requires.

    Currently, the user needs to be an expert Linux user in order to
    recognise the symptoms of missing firmware, and then go and track that
    firmware down and manually install it.

    --
    Sam Morris
    http://robots.org.uk/

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  14. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sun, 09 Nov 2008 00:39:26 -0500, Theodore Tso wrote:

    > So if people think that they are going to be able to get firmware in
    > source form so that popular wireless chips can be driven using 100% DFSG
    > pure firmware, I suspect they will have a very long wait ahead of them.
    > The issue is that software controlled radios are cheaper, and that
    > drives the mass market, so that will be what most manufacturers will
    > use.


    Here's an interesting problem with DFSG-free firmware such as those
    created by the FreeMAC project (for prism54 cards): if they never get FCC-
    certified, is it legal for Debian to distribute them? They seem to fall
    into the category of DFSG-free-but-illegal software such as dvdcss or the
    patented software that we refuse to distribute. So unless the project
    bends a little here, users are never going to get working hardware no
    matter what happens.

    --
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  15. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 8:30 PM, Sam Morris wrote:

    > I'd prefer to see firmware in a separate section, because it will be
    > easier to get that section enabled by default for new installs. This will
    > mean that the installer, or something hooked up to udev/hal, etc., will
    > be able to automatically install the packages that the user requires.


    The lenny installer already prompts users to install non-free firmware
    needed by their hardware and the prompt defaults to yes. Sounds like
    what you want, except for using non-free instead of a specific
    non-free-firmware section.

    --
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    pabs

    http://wiki.debian.org/PaulWise


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  16. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 8:33 PM, Sam Morris wrote:

    > Here's an interesting problem with DFSG-free firmware such as those
    > created by the FreeMAC project (for prism54 cards): if they never get FCC-
    > certified, is it legal for Debian to distribute them?


    That would be something for a lawyer to answer (such as SPI counsel).

    > They seem to fall into the category of DFSG-free-but-illegal software
    > such as dvdcss or the patented software that we refuse to distribute.
    > So unless the project bends a little here, users are never going to get
    > working hardware no matter what happens.


    I doubt it would be a good idea for the ftpmasters to expose
    themselves and Debian/SPI to legal risk by allowing distribution of
    illegal software.

    Solutions to these problems might include;

    Moving ftp-master to sealand (or similar) and implementing a system to
    prevent the mirrors from distributing packages illegal in their
    jurisdictions; this is unlikely to happen any time soon and would
    probably be prohibitively impractical.

    A separate ftp-master and mirror system for such packages; already
    implemented as debian-multimedia.org and debian-unofficial.org)

    Fix the jurisdictions to be more sane; this is something to work on
    outside of Debian.

    --
    bye,
    pabs

    http://wiki.debian.org/PaulWise


    --
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  17. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    Hi,

    On Sunday 09 November 2008 13:37, Paul Wise wrote:
    > The images don't include non-free stuff, but they do allow loading
    > non-free firmware. Joey Hess blogged about how it works here:
    >
    > http://kitenet.net/~joey/blog/entry/...mware_loading/


    So all we need is just a download location for tained images, plus a nice
    howto and/or a gui for creating custom images and then everybody will be
    happy, those who can use Debian (pure main) and the rest, who for whatever
    reason needs some non-free bits.

    I'm starting to think that a new non-free-firmware section makes sense, though
    not fully convinced yet...


    regards,
    Holger

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  18. non-free firmware loading in d-i (was Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices)

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  19. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    http://kitenet.net/~joey/blog/entry/...rmware_loading
    http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/un...free/firmware/

    I'm not sure what to do about both the Debian project being generally
    unaware of functionality already present in Debian. Document it better?
    Wet fishes applied to anyone who starts a flamewar about it?

    FWIW, I think that Ted makes good points about installing non-free's
    effect on users, and about a firmware section in the active being
    desirable. The current implementation tries to avoid these problems
    as much as it can without requiring big changes just before release[1].

    --
    see shy jo, not subscribed to this mailing list or active in the project

    [1] That is, 4 months ago when I implemented it.

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  20. Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

    Joey Hess wrote:
    > http://kitenet.net/~joey/blog/entry/...rmware_loading
    > http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/un...free/firmware/
    >
    > I'm not sure what to do about both the Debian project being generally
    > unaware of functionality already present in Debian. Document it better?


    It's also documented in the new version of the Installation Guide which is
    to be uploaded in the next few days:
    http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/...6/ch06s04.html

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