[Mageia-dev] Non-free firmwares in installer

andre999 andr55 at laposte.net
Fri Mar 25 01:29:34 CET 2011

JA Magallón a écrit :
> 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.

My though was essentially that firmware is so close to hardware that its 
actual free/non-free status shouldn't apply - we should treat it like 
(almost) part of the hardware.

As for the drivers, a little more distant from the hardware, they could 
be in non-free, but I sincerely think that they should be on all 
installation isos.
That is, on installing from an iso, all hardware-related functions 
should (ideally) be fully functional, even if it requires using non-free 
The lack of some drivers (or components of drivers) can render a system 
technically functional, but with important dysfunctions, simply because 
the required drivers were not available on installation.
That should not happen.
The kernel, firmware and drivers, built on the hardware, provide a 
platform on which the application software runs.
True, it is better if drivers are open source, but in my view, it is 
application software where open source is the most important.


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