[Mageia-dev] Non-free firmwares in installer

JA Magallón jamagallon at ono.com
Thu Mar 24 23:44:36 CET 2011

On Thu, 24 Mar 2011 17:41:18 -0400, andre999 <andr55 at laposte.net> wrote:

> Romain d'Alverny a écrit :
> >
> > On Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 20:08, Anssi Hannula<anssi.hannula at iki.fi>  wrote:
> >> On 24.03.2011 19:35, Romain d'Alverny wrote:
> >>> Summary (from http://mageia.org/wiki/doku.php?id=licensing_policy):
> >>>   * core: stuff that is not Free/Open Source according to OSI/FSF does
> >>> not belong here. Not even closed-source stuff that we can
> >>> redistribute. So if there is at this time, that's something to fix.
> >>
> >> Most of files in kernel-firmware (which is in core) are not OSI/FSF free
> >> (approximate list from 2010 [1]). There was a short thread about that
> >> [2] where I asked the question if they should be moved to non-free due
> >> to them not being OSI/FSF free, and tmb agreed, while pterjan disagreed
> >> (saying BSD without source code (where a portion of the firmware files
> >> in question fall) is eligible for core).
> >>
> >> [1] http://lists.mandriva.com/cooker/2010-01/msg00525.php
> >> [2] https://mageia.org/pipermail/mageia-dev/20110115/002172.html
> >
> > Ah right, sorry for overlooking this.
> >
> > So what do we do? amend core inclusion definition for that? or move
> > these to nonfree? (and at what cost?) topic for next Council meeting
> > to decide? would you like to write a summary for this in
> > http://mageia.org/wiki/doku.php?id=meeting:council_notes_2011_03_28#open_questions
> > ?
> >
> > Romain
> fwiw, I think the best solution is to have an express policy to include 
> such firmware in core.
> Without it, much hardware simply won't work.  Firmware/drivers are 
> essentially extensions to hardware, so that software can work with them.
> The hardware is changed, and firmware/drivers have to be changed to 
> accommodate the hardware.
> These firmware/drivers provide an interface which allows (free) software 
> to run.
> A practical solution, which doesn't hurt free software.
> The alternative is (free) software that doesn't run properly.
> my 2 cents :)

Sincerely, I would be more than happy than nVidia drivers went to core,
but I'm pragmatic. I can understand that moving only firmwares to
core, and leaving nVidia, ATI and other closed source drivers in non-free
can be a compromise solution. It's the difference between losing
100% functionality of an important piece of hardware/system (network,
for example -now that I read the list in Anssi's mail, 80% of firmwares
in non-free are network- o fiber-channel), or getting a not so performant
system 'cause you dont have the binary drivers for your graphics card
(and I'm not aware of any other binary driver so popular/needed, nVidia
and ATI).

So in short, there are three important pieces of software:
- net/fc/radeon firmwares, mandatory for some free drivers
- nVidia/ATI binary drivers, wanted but optional, not mandatory

Firmwares and drivers, they are different beasts for me.

And anyways, you already have firmwares in your hardware and in your
kernel which source you can't look at...
And cherry picking firmwares from standard kernel source looks like
madness for me.

J.A. Magallon <jamagallon()ono!com>     \               Software is like sex:
                                         \         It's better when it's free

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