[Mageia-dev] Non-free firmwares in installer

Buchan Milne bgmilne at staff.telkomsa.net
Fri Mar 25 08:17:27 CET 2011

----- "andre999" <andr55 at laposte.net> wrote:

> ok.
> 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.

I would agree, but some people wouldn't.

> 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.

I wouldn't say "all".

> That is, on installing from an iso, all hardware-related functions 
> should (ideally) be fully functional, even if it requires using
> non-free 
> drivers.

IMHO, not without informing the user, so that they have the choice (e.g. to consider replacing the hardware by something supported by free software => supporting vendors who support free software).

> 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.

IMHO, that is not *our* choice to make for the user.

> 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.

But, that is *your* view.

IMHO, some of these questions should be posed to the community.

For example, maybe we should brand ISO releases as something like "Mageia Libre" and "Mageia Gratis" (note, not a "Mageia" and "Mageia limited" or similar, give equal standing to both releases), where Libre would include no non-free software of any kind on the media, users using Libre would never be prompted about non-free software (without opting in, by e.g. installing a different release package). Gratis would include non-free software/firmware required to enable hardware or specific hardware features.

I think it may be worthwhile catering to users who would like to follow FSF Free distribution guidelines as closely as possible, by providing a release that is as close as practically possible to these guidelines (but still making it possible for pragmatic users to have a good experience).


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