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Debian Improves Docs To Inform Users Their Systems Might Not Work Without Non-Free Firmware

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  • oiaohm
    replied
    Originally posted by ssokolow View Post
    I'd be very surprised if the customer would accept a card that appeared to keep their UEFI from POSTing when installed so I'm assuming that's either excluding the default mode that comes up on boot or referring to some kind of integrated/embedded situation meant to come with the OS preinstalled and possibly using uBoot, where you can't pop the GPU out and return it to the store as defective because it didn't POST.
    You have to remember with EFI Vesa is optional.
    https://wiki.osdev.org/GOP
    Yes EFI Graphics Output Protocol. So using old school vesa drivers may only work after firmware is uploaded to the GPU to enable VESA. Yes your modern GPU don't require VESA support for the UEFI firmware. Yes EFI Graphics Output Protocol can be mega pain as in offer multi modes with one currently as default that works but if you change to any of the others get black screen of death. Great fun having a Hidpi monitor and being stuck at 800x600 because that what the EFI firmware menu likes.

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  • ssokolow
    replied
    Originally posted by Syretia View Post
    There's legitimately no reason to use Debian over Ubuntu or an official Ubuntu flavor unless you have irrational hatred for Canonical.
    That may change if Canonical decides to move something to snaps which can't easily be obtained through Flatpak instead. Ripping out snappy is the first thing I do on 20.04 LTS because I don't like its architecture.

    Originally posted by lucrus View Post
    Unfortunately that's not the case anymore on modern hardware, because without the GPU firmware in many cases even Vesa modes can't be activated. Straight from Michael's article: "there is often a situation ... even display mode-setting can fail that leads to a blank screen".
    I'd be very surprised if the customer would accept a card that appeared to keep their UEFI from POSTing when installed so I'm assuming that's either excluding the default mode that comes up on boot or referring to some kind of integrated/embedded situation meant to come with the OS preinstalled and possibly using uBoot, where you can't pop the GPU out and return it to the store as defective because it didn't POST.

    Leave a comment:


  • oiaohm
    replied
    Originally posted by kpedersen View Post
    I strongly disagree that this is an issue by not including them in the media or default install. Memory stick, CDROM, floppy disk, RS232. C'mon you can get a firmware package on the OS in many ways. It doesn't and shouldn't need to come with the installation. I would not put an unprepped server on an internal network either. As mentioned, it is not deterministic.

    OpenBSD I tend to have to do the Raspberry Pi install headless via UART / serial. The bcm firmware files can also be transferred via that same medium. This works exceptionally well since almost every different ARM board needs very different firmware. It would be a mess to include them all in the default OS.
    What you tend to-do does not mean it always works. Debian install on raspberry pi you have not always been able to use the UART/serial turns out when you use the UART/serial of a Raspberry PI you have to limit the GPU clock speed on many of the boards. . Fun right OpenBSD limits the GPU clock out the box with Raspberry PI. Unprepped server on a internal isolated network at times is exactly the option you have to use because that is the option that works.

    Yes there are servers that you can only setup by the Baseboard Management Controller and that only works over network as well.

    The install media for the raspberry pi is not going to work without bootcode.bin on the image(that at times closed source is the only option). HDMI out is not going work with out a stack of other firmware files with a raspberry pi.

    There are many cases where the installer is not going to work without firmware. You cannot presume that a person setting up system will always have the option to customise the install image.

    Originally posted by kpedersen View Post
    And Ubuntu has you covered. Why not use that rather than Debian if firmware is giving you such trouble. Especially when a textmode console is pretty much as far as I would need for my Debian servers anyway.
    Not always option. Working in enterprise environments your choice of distributions can be very limited. Do note depending on the firmware issue you may not get to a textmode console without the firmware.

    Yes I give arm is a mess. Different parties have attempted to make all in one arm installers.

    Originally posted by kpedersen View Post
    This works exceptionally well since almost every different ARM board needs very different firmware. It would be a mess to include them all in the default OS.
    This is not 100 percent true. The move to single Linux kernel for all arm versions in a type since 2012 has seen more and more cases where once you are to the mainline kernel the firmware past that point is a solved problem. There is even a install layout for the lib/firmware directory to have all installed.

    EFI booting arm can in fact use 1 install image for them all. Issue of fragmentation at this stage is all arm platform unique boot up bits to get get the bootloader up. There are many arm install images that in fact over 4 to 5 different arm soc vendors. Yes this is 4 to 5 different system boot up solutions at a min one of is 5 vendors 85 boot up paths. These images are not that messy. Core is uboot you have 99% identical between vendors at that point you have uboot running. Less than 1% of vendor targeted arm images are vendor particular parts like firmware or odd locations for placing files so system boots.

    Also you have the case that ARM boards don't always need 100 percent different firmware. Like you may have a series of boards that 90%+ of their firmware files to the system works are identical even that they are made by different vendors. It can be cases that the include wifi, network.... is the same firmware files because the soc vendor bought that part from a third party.

    Having to unique install images for every arm board you have is very time consuming and makes auditing lot harder that you have stop using particular flawed firmware.

    Leave a comment:


  • ping-wu
    replied
    Originally posted by Syretia View Post
    Really, at this point, Debian has no excuse for existing in the way they do. They need to wake the fuck up and realize that they need to become about 100% more user friendly to be anywhere near relevant again.
    Speaking as a recent convert from Ubuntu to Debian 11, the non-free variant of Debian is actually more user friendly than Ubuntu. One really needs to spend a few days with the Debian ecosystem to appreciate it. Look forward to dual-booting between Debian 11 and Bookworm.

    Leave a comment:


  • calc
    replied
    Essentially what happened with Debian was that Ubuntu was released in Oct 2004 and all the users/developers that cared about usability switched. Leaving only the hardcore FSF users/developers on Debian. From what I recall prior to the release of Ubuntu Debian still shipped working drivers with firmware as actual usability still mattered.

    Leave a comment:


  • krzyzowiec
    replied
    Originally posted by lucrus View Post
    At best, it makes them more upset. At worst, it makes them go back to Windows (or, even worse in this regard, Ubuntu...).
    As a happy Ubuntu user, .

    Leave a comment:


  • lucrus
    replied
    Originally posted by leech
    but I can tell you right now that Debian installs come up with a display as the generic vesa one will work even if nothing else will
    Unfortunately that's not the case anymore on modern hardware, because without the GPU firmware in many cases even Vesa modes can't be activated. Straight from Michael's article: "there is often a situation ... even display mode-setting can fail that leads to a blank screen".

    Originally posted by kpedersen View Post
    Indeed and for anyone who can read text on a screen.
    That was not my point. After you, and anyone who can read text on a screen, have installed Debian in text mode without any firmware, and after you are left with a text only terminal, no graphics, no network, no nothing except a bare "login:" text prompt, that's more than enough for you only, maybe for me, but not for the average user that could otherwise approach Debian.

    Leave a comment:


  • Danielsan
    replied
    Originally posted by Syretia View Post
    Really, at this point, Debian has no excuse for existing in the way they do...
    Originally posted by stormcrow View Post
    There's no technical, nor likely legal reason, that Debian can't just display the firmware license, let the user decide what they want to do, and download the blobs when told. No, they just dug in their heels like a 2 year old and stuffed their fingers in their ears and hummed real loud, or at least that's the equivalent of what happened last time I tried Debian last year.
    If you don't use Debian why are you so upset with it?

    Debian is an OS made by a community of volunteers, it is not a commercial product, it is not designed specifically for your needs, but has a lot of reason to be used:

    https://www.debian.org/intro/why_debian

    If you want a Debian based OS that suits better commercial scopes Ubuntu exists exactly for that reason, if you don't care really much about free software culture FreeBSD is a great option.

    I don't see Debian folks complaining against the other distros' users...

    Leave a comment:


  • kpedersen
    replied
    Originally posted by lucrus View Post

    For you.
    Indeed and for anyone who can read text on a screen. That's why the netinst is quite popular (slightly misnamed because contrary to popular belief, it provides all packages required for an offline standard install. No Xorg, Gtk cruft however).

    For those who have sight issues, I would be surprised if the UI installer was much more help too. Though this is quite a different discussion.

    Of course, for those who struggle with non-standard / closed firmware, just chuck in one of these 81meg tarballs and be done with it (https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/u...table/current/)
    Last edited by kpedersen; 02 August 2021, 02:24 PM.

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  • leech
    replied
    Originally posted by stormcrow View Post
    I really don't think Debian is doing anyone a service here. Not their potential users, nor FOSS in general. They're pushing away potential users by not packaging required items for hardware to function. Simply informing users they're doing that doesn't help when the next issue is their NIC (wireless or not) doesn't function so they can't download firmware for their NIC after being notified it's not FOSS and well... we can't do that because $reasons. Pissed me off when I've tried to go back to Debian for servers only to have to deal with Ethernet NICs sans firmware. That server runs FreeBSD now, with a happy smile on its case. The firmware for the NICs was already part of the OS. Thank you FreeBSD developers. Yes, I realize Ubuntu Server, Fedora, etc do the same thing. Same praise to them. Thank them for doing so and picking the user friendly path. I don't recommend Debian to people any more because of the unreasonably extreme firmware stance they take, and it's more likely to not to leave them with an unusable system. Not everyone has multiple computers, gotchas happen.

    There's no technical, nor likely legal reason, that Debian can't just display the firmware license, let the user decide what they want to do, and download the blobs when told. No, they just dug in their heels like a 2 year old and stuffed their fingers in their ears and hummed real loud, or at least that's the equivalent of what happened last time I tried Debian last year.
    So you have the regular free version, and as mentioned in the news item, there is a 'firmware included' image. If you happen to have a nic that requires this, you'll get an alert during install if you do (it's been there for years) that says how to copy the firmware to a USB stick where it'll search for it when prompted.
    Debian digging in their heels is the whole reason I use it. They actually don't compromise their DFSG at all.

    Also, I've had many instances where using CentOS vs Debian on a server, the CentOS install was missing the NIC driver altogether, where Debian had a newer backported one. This didn't even have anything to do with Firmware, but more to having a more aggressive backporting of hardware support. Most NICs don't require firmware to function for basic networking. Wifi is probably the biggest one that will ask for firmware, and require it.

    But sure, you should probably just download the firmware/non-free iso to install off of if you're worried about such things.

    Leave a comment:

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