[Mageia-dev] Non-free firmwares in installer

Renaud MICHEL r.h.michel+mageia at gmail.com
Mon Mar 28 20:09:01 CEST 2011

On lundi 28 mars 2011 at 00:33, andre999 wrote :
> If we want to avoid the situation where people are dissatisfied because 
> the DVD they install produces a Mageia system where the hardware doesn't 
> work properly, we have to provide a single DVD that is complete, in 
> terms of hardware drivers.
> Such cases will produce a lot of negative reaction to Mageia among many 
> users.
> Saying that users should install with 2 ISOs may sound great, but many 
> will forget the secondary ISO.  Why would they expect to need it ?  And 
> why would they want the hassle of a second ISO, when one is a DVD ?
> A much simpler, ergonomic solution is make space (you suggest 60 M) on 
> the DVD for the necessary drivers.
> (That might mean removing 1 or 2 packages that few users would want
> anyway.) At least we will have a product much less likely to give a
> negative reaction.
> Let's face it.  The DVD will contain proprietary firmware/drivers 
> anyway, so why not include all that is necessary for a properly running 
> system ?
> Excluding these drivers just ensures that we will have the reputation of 
> not supporting all hardware.
> If the community really wants to produce a totally free DVD, it should 
> be called "free for experts" accompanied with a "drivers for free for 
> experts" CD.
> Of course this DVD will have to have a special kernel, compiled without 
> proprietory firmware/drivers.  Otherwise it is just an exercice in 
> hypocracy.
> But that is another question.
> Then we could call the normal DVD "free with proprietory drivers".
> Of course this normal DVD would only include such proprietory drivers 
> where there is not a reliable open source equivalent available.
> We could consider this a sort of "as free as possible in practice" for a 
> fully working system, in terms of hardware.
> (If we go for the alternate DVD solution, the easiest way is to produce 
> the normal DVD with all the drivers, and just exclude the proprietory 
> drivers on the other, putting them on the CD.  But such as DVD would't 
> be totally free.)
> BTW, the Mandriva free DVD lacks some necessary drivers, which is really 
> a hassle if one doesn't have internet access during install, even for 
> advanced Mandriva Linux users.

How about adding an initial check to the installer?

A "grey list" of hardware wich requires non-free/tainted components would be 
created, associating the hardware ID with the package(s) containing the 
required components to make it work.
Maybe that list could be created automatically from the packages?
Then the installer check the detected hardware against that list before 
asking any other question.
Then if there is some hardware from the list it will check on its current 
media if the required packages are available, if so the install can go on 
normally, if not the installer inform the user that it is missing some 
driver/firmware/something else to support some hardware, then the user could 
- immediately add another install media, which would be added to the list of 
available media and the check done again
- continue anyway (if the user know that he can go on without that hardware)
- immediately stop the install to go fetch another install media, or an add-
on driver media.

This way the user does not risk to discover that something doesn't work 
after the install, when it may be too late.

The list could eventually be split between "must have" hardware (network, 
maybe some RAID controller?) and "nice to have hardware" (anything that can 
be configured after install).

Maybe it is too late in the development cycle of the first release to have 
such a change in the installer.

Renaud Michel

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