Linked by crystall on Tue 21st Dec 2010 22:35 UTC
Debian and its clones The Debian project will release the new stable version of debian - Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" - with a completely free Linux kernel. Binary-only firmware and other non-free kernel components will only be available via the non-free repositories and the project is actively encouraging vendors that have not done so already to release their firmware in a form compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
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Doesn't go far enough
by ncafferkey on Wed 22nd Dec 2010 02:43 UTC
ncafferkey
Member since:
2006-09-15

How about adding a requirement to install a package from the non-free repository before allowing non-free firmware in ROM to be used as well? You wouldn't want to be accidentally using non-free firmware that way either after all. :-P

Reply Score: 1

RE: Doesn't go far enough
by vodoomoth on Wed 22nd Dec 2010 11:37 in reply to "Doesn't go far enough"
vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30

When I read the teaser, I thought "is Debian 'big' enough to be producing a 'Debian Free Software Guidelines' that vendors are supposed to follow?". It still holds in light of your comment.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Doesn't go far enough
by sorpigal on Wed 22nd Dec 2010 12:38 in reply to "RE: Doesn't go far enough"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

Debian doesn't hold anyone outside the project to anything. This is simply the culmination of an effort of many years to remove from the Debian Linux kernel anything that is not in compliance with the the Debian Free Software Guidelines. Achieving this is an important ideological milestone for Debian but doesn't mean much for anyone who doesn't care about ideology--except that certain hardware won't work out of the box and will require extra steps.

What has held up this, AFAIR, is that when Debian initially wanted to perform this removal the only way to do it was to completely remove the associated drivers, which lead to a crippled kernel. Pragmatically this was not an option so the non-free bits remained in the kernel and every so often someone would complain. The technical solution was to separate things out and make the firmware loadable from a file, then update all drivers that needed non-free firmware to do this. It's all a lot of boring, mundane work that is now (finally) done.

The rest of the world can go and hang, Debian will always do it's own thing its own (IMO correct) way.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Doesn't go far enough
by crystall on Wed 22nd Dec 2010 18:26 in reply to "Doesn't go far enough"
crystall Member since:
2007-02-06

Jokes aside you are making a very valid point, more and more software is being used on our machines (think about SSD controllers firmware) and we have no control over it, nor the source is available. This exposes us to two problems:

- support, if the vendor responsible for your hardware decides that it isn't worth to keep old firmware up to date you might end up with bugs which will never be fixed

- security, bugs in those firmwares could be responsible for new vulnerabilities and attack vectors and again you'd have no control over it nor the possibility to fix them unless the vendor issues an update

All in all I think that Debian's choice is not ideological, it's very pragmatical and involves on-board firmwares too. Not being able to control them leaves us exposed to all the problems involved with proprietary code and closed architectures.

Finally we have already seen quite a bit of firmware-based differentiation lately, with performance or feature caps enforced by software. I expect more to come in the future and that's why it is in the user's best interest to be able to control what they buy and do what they want with their hardware.

Reply Parent Score: 2