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Debian 6.0 Kernel Will Be Free Of Closed Firmware

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Remco View Post
    Wrong. A bunch of meaningless numbers is not open source. It needs to be unobfuscated. If your argument would hold, then all freeware would be open source. The only thing stopping you from understanding the output of a disassembler is yourself.
    Yes, yes, a subjective opinion is clearly wrong in your false dichotomy. There is nothing in the four freedoms that states code must be human readable.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by allquixotic View Post
      Imagine a time 10 years from now when hardware manufacturers have wisened up, and allocate a gigabyte or more of flash memory on their video cards to support larger, more all-inclusive firmware. Imagine that "free software" device drivers like `radeong' would then devolve into an exercise of calling into the firmware for high-level tasks. If Linus' policy on non-free firmware were to remain unchallenged by then, we would find ourselves with a free "glue" driver in the mainline kernel, along with a non-free firmware blob implementing the vast majority of the functionality. Is this what you guys want? Because I guarantee you that hardware manufacturers are going to try this tactic sooner or later, because they know that people by and large accept the fact that firmware is non-free, so they can just stuff all their "IP" in there. And as the "IP"-protected subject matter balloons outward indefinitely, soon you find that practically the entire driver is a "firmware" blob.
      I wouldn't say firmware is generally used as a way to protect IP or that companies are planning to put more stuff in ucode because they see it as a way to sidestep Linux. In fact, I doubt Linux is really that big a factor when they decide to use a micro-controller. Ucode is used because it's a good solution to a problem; it saves money or makes the software team's life easier. Mostly is provides a flexible way to provide an extensible HW API that's easier to program and stays consistent across asics as the underlying hardware changes. It's a lot of work to write a driver, and add several more drivers for the micro-controllers and you got a whole bunch more work to do get the hardware going. Isn't the whole point for users to be able to use their hardware in a reasonable timeframe?

      Let's look at it from a business perspective. It takes a lot of company resources to review and release the code. What's in it for the company? They put the time and money and risk into releasing the ucode source and most likely no one does anything with it, or they end up with some hacked up version that purported to be "faster" or "better" and that ends up causing instability in their product or someone hacks the their ucode and uses it to pirate bluray movies. I'm not saying someone couldn't write a better ucode image, but it's not likely. Has anyone written replacement ucode for any chips where the ucode source has been released? If so has it actually proven to be better than the original ucode? I don't see people lining up to write Linux drivers even when HW specs are available, much less ucode for embedded micro-controllers.

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      • #33
        Debian just became the most useless distribution to put on a live cd. They should just remove the wireless drivers from the kernel on their installer / live cd so that they don't give the misconception that they will actually work.

        This decision to remove binary blobs is purely political and there's no technical advantage to removing them.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by yogi_berra View Post
          Yes, yes, a subjective opinion is clearly wrong in your false dichotomy. There is nothing in the four freedoms that states code must be human readable.
          You might want to re-read http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

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          • #35
            Originally posted by damentz View Post
            Debian just became the most useless distribution to put on a live cd. They should just remove the wireless drivers from the kernel on their installer / live cd so that they don't give the misconception that they will actually work.

            This decision to remove binary blobs is purely political and there's no technical advantage to removing them.
            Well you seem like a pretty useless user if you are using debian for a livecd instead of the billions of other way more suitable distros.

            Debian has never been targeted for n00bs and people who want a "friendly" distro.

            Considering most use it as a server or a distrobase, the effects are pretty minimal.

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            • #36
              Graphics drivers whatever, console and VESA works with everything nowdays. Let me rehash the major reason why this is a bad idea in terms you can all understand:

              If your only access to the Internet is via a non-free firmware requiring wireless card, you need to download the non-free firmware using the internet connection you can't use because you don't have the non-free firmware, and you're screwed.

              It's not that there's no way around this, it's that it massively complicates the life of persons installing the distribution.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by monraaf View Post
                No to non-free firmware, no to non-free Firefox artwork. But yes to non-free Mono disease. Debian is like a vegetarian wearing a fur coat. I cannot take this distro seriously.
                Mono is not a part of Debian default installation.

                Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                debian is on a fast track to becoming most useless distro ever with that kind of attitude.
                Debian has never aimed to be a desktop replacement for Ubuntu or Fedora, so you're wrong when implying it has.

                Originally posted by allquixotic View Post
                That's the idea, anyway. But right now I see no one actively working on a replacement, so we're just going to live without a hand? Or really, due to the importance of the wifi and video chipsets that just stopped working on Debian --
                BULLSHIT! FUD! FLAMING! LIES! None of those devices 'stopped working' on Debian. Any binary blob removed from the default kernel can be easily installed via the package manager.

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                • #38
                  This will make RMS happy. It's the last bit thats missing in a complete free OS. And Debian is not *the* user friendly choice any more, since there is now ubuntu and fedora etc... so it's just a step that debian makes stand out. I like it, maybe some companies change their attitude.

                  Too bad that companies often can't release the source code of these initialisation bits.

                  Is there really no choice, AMD? Has nvidia a problem now that there is equivalent code in the public?

                  The only problem I can see is that it could be easier to rip blurays etc...
                  Everyone knows that changes on that code would make it most probably not faster and not more stable. So there would be just no support from the devs.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by yogi_berra View Post
                    Yes, yes, a subjective opinion is clearly wrong in your false dichotomy. There is nothing in the four freedoms that states code must be human readable.
                    You are obviously not informed. The FSF's Free Software Definition explicitly says "The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this."

                    The Debian Free Software Guidelines say a very similar thing.
                    Originally posted by curfew View Post
                    Debian has never aimed to be a desktop replacement for Ubuntu or Fedora, so you're wrong when implying it has.
                    Debian wants to be "The Universal Operating System" as indicated by the <title> element on http://www.debian.org/

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                    • #40
                      1. Debian IS the universal operating system.
                      2. The firmware CAN be added - not too hard, even for a guy like me.
                      3. Remember the Alice In Wonderland thing: "It takes all the running one can do to keep in the same place"? If Debian were not such intolerable FOSS hard asses, Debian would fade away into nothing.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by bugmenot3 View Post
                        Is there really no choice, AMD? Has nvidia a problem now that there is equivalent code in the public?
                        Nvidia has nothing released. Some of the Devs has started to reverse engineer the nvidia ucode because of legal issues.


                        ---------------------------------------------------

                        Bye bye Debian there are other Distribution that i can use on my Servers an Desktop Systems in the future.

                        Most Hardware has an ucode. Will they remove drivers where the Hardware has an internal ucode? No? Interesting ....

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Mr James View Post
                          2. The firmware CAN be added - not too hard, even for a guy like me.
                          Sure but this need time. Only as an example try to Download an Firmware for you Network Card without Network

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Nille View Post
                            Sure but this need time. Only as an example try to Download an Firmware for you Network Card without Network
                            The point is that if you need it, you read the instructions and download the firmware at the same time you download the official installation media. In the beginning of the installation, you have the option to preload firmware from eg. USB stick or wherever, it's just not on the official installation media. Or alternatively you use wired network to install the needed bits.

                            This move is quite simply a step that wasn't taken earlier because of lack of resources, since official Debian aims and has always aimed to consist of only free software. For many/most Debian developers however removing firmware/microcode is not a priority thing, and I'm also not _that_ interested but identifying and separating those bits is a good thing anyway.

                            Debian aims to be the universal operating system and not customized as such to be eg. direct competitor to x86-oriented (nowadays also ARM sometimes), desktop-oriented other distributions. So I don't think much was lost. It's trivial to install the closed stuff to your Debian if you know what you are doing, and if you don't know what you are doing or think that ten minutes of configuring is too much, you'd be better off with Ubuntu, MeeGo anyway.

                            As a disclaimer, I only use Debian on my phone, a server and one desktop machine, Ubuntu otherwise. I like the desktop tweaks in Ubuntu so it's pretty obvious choice, and also at my work it's quite assumed people work using Ubuntu. But maybe because of my FLOSS preference I tend to only use main + universe repositories. Ubuntu's multiverse is such a mess, both closed software and free but patent encumbered (depending on jurisdiction) software.

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                            • #44
                              As a long time Debian user I am a bit surprised, and, not so surprised.

                              While, it may seem to be a silly solution, it does perhaps reinforce Debian's status as "the base distro", which Ubuntu, Mint, and other copy-cats can pimp up.

                              Debian, the Swiss army knife. Don't forget to bring your own blade...

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Timo Jyrinki View Post
                                Or alternatively you use wired network to install the needed bits.
                                Look in the firmware folder many NICs do not work without an firmware and i don't mean the wireless NICs

                                And yes you has now one Step more but first you don't know if your hardware need extra Firmware.

                                The new situation is now that my Hardware is no longer working ootb and the consequence for me is to use an other distribution.

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