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Debian Chooses A Reasonable, Common Sense Solution To Dealing With Non-Free Firmware

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  • #31
    This is no surprise. Over the years, all Debian decision making has been co-opted by Ubuntu. The systemd decision was the clearest example - allowing Debian developers to work on supporting any other init system did not benefit Ubuntu at all, so they were all tossed to the side. Here, native support for non-free firmware aligns Debian more closely to Ubuntu's principles and workflow, so naturally it is adopted.

    Basically, the child distro (Ubuntu) now runs the parent distro (Debian). The tail wags the dog. If you view their relationship this way, you'll never be surprised by the Debian decision making again.

    The next big move will probably be dropping 32-bit support. Once again, it doesn't support Ubuntu's interests in any way, so it will be viewed as so much wasted developer time.

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    • #32
      One issue causing the lack of free firmware is copy protection. When content wasn't a factor, there were fewer reasons to protect GPU firmware. But now there are Secrets, that contractually have to be kept Safe. Alas, doing so messes up a bunch of things that might be nice to do with open source software in the middle.

      Frustratingly, I have also seen laws prohibiting open source software for radio devices of various kinds on the grounds that end users could modify it to accessed unlicensed spectrum or power levels. Of course, this also tends to make it impossible to adapt the hardware to newer standards, even if that would be possible.

      People aren't ideological about wanting free software for no reason. Firmware usually restricts what you can do with what you have been sold, to the benefit and goals of others - often, the people who sold it to you.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by GreenReaper View Post
        People aren't ideological about wanting free software for no reason. Firmware usually restricts what you can do with what you have been sold, to the benefit and goals of others - often, the people who sold it to you.
        I would say that depends from person to person. For example, if we talk about GPU drivers and firmware on Linux, I, as an end user who is not a developer, prefer open source GPU drivers for obvious reasons (like not having to deal with issues caused by out of tree blobs and others). But I don't see how would an open source firmware benefit me as an end user. From my point of view it benefits mostly developers and tinkerers like those who develop Noveau.

        But yeah, I get your point. RMS himself didn't become ideological about free software for no reason. It all started because of the stuff he couldn't do at MIT as a result of license restrictions.
        Last edited by user1; 03 October 2022, 04:33 AM.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by user1 View Post

          But I don't see how would an open source firmware benefit me as an end user. From my point of view it benefits mostly developers and tinkerers like those who develop Noveau.
          Fixing bugs after product EOL ? Backporting of feature from newer generation ?
          That said, you would not do it as a non developer, but chance that it happens and you can get it from free is higher than if it's closed source. Same is true for any software whether it runs in some specialized hardware or not.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by user1 View Post
            But I don't see how would an open source firmware benefit me as an end user. From my point of view it benefits mostly developers and tinkerers like those who develop Noveau.
            Hi, I work in industry. We design products that have to last for 30 to 50 years. Without a FOSS ecosystem we would need to hire a minor army of coders to maintain a sub-par OS, alternatively spend $$$$$$$$ to buy an OS from e.g. Wind River or Microsoft. And these companies give no guarantees of 30-50 years of support.

            Instead of spending money on proprietary software, we can take all that manpower and cash and develop cool features for our core business. Sure, we still need to keep on top of the latest developments, but our Linux team only need to be 10 people instead of 100. We're not averse helping out where we can and submit and work on bugs where we see them.

            We try to avoid as much proprietary crap as possible, since it only slows us down and the acquisition process can take over a year here as legal pours over every single syllable in a proposed EULA.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by nabero View Post

              Fixing bugs after product EOL ? Backporting of feature from newer generation ?
              That said, you would not do it as a non developer, but chance that it happens and you can get it from free is higher than if it's closed source. Same is true for any software whether it runs in some specialized hardware or not.
              I think I heard about these benefits, but is this such a common scenario when this stuff is urgently needed very often? I haven't heard about any specific case, like with specific old piece of hardware where this was beneficial. An example would be appreciated.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by wertigon View Post

                Hi, I work in industry. We design products that have to last for 30 to 50 years. Without a FOSS ecosystem we would need to hire a minor army of coders to maintain a sub-par OS, alternatively spend $$$$$$$$ to buy an OS from e.g. Wind River or Microsoft. And these companies give no guarantees of 30-50 years of support.

                Instead of spending money on proprietary software, we can take all that manpower and cash and develop cool features for our core business. Sure, we still need to keep on top of the latest developments, but our Linux team only need to be 10 people instead of 100. We're not averse helping out where we can and submit and work on bugs where we see them.

                We try to avoid as much proprietary crap as possible, since it only slows us down and the acquisition process can take over a year here as legal pours over every single syllable in a proposed EULA.
                From what you describe, I understand that whatever you develop is not targeted at average end users like me. And it's not that I defend closed firmware or something. I just said that I don't see how would an open firmware benefit me as an end user. So you just confirmed my point that it's mostly beneficial for developers. Btw, an open firmware might be beneficial for you, but it might not be for others like Intel or AMD.
                Last edited by user1; 03 October 2022, 06:14 AM.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by user1 View Post

                  From what you describe, I understand that whatever you develop is not targeted at average end users like me. And it's not that I defend closed firmware or something. I just said that I don't see how would an open firmware benefit me as an end user. So you just confirmed my point that it's mostly beneficial for developers. Btw, an open firmware might be beneficial for you, but it might not be for others like Intel or AMD.
                  Which is why "right to repair" needs to be pushed as legislation to be effective, and the ECJ handed down a decision in 2021 that there are situations where right to repair grants the legitimate licensee a right to crack DRM and decompile programs, regardless of the EULA, to restore the functionality they were promised.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by ssokolow View Post

                    Which is why "right to repair" needs to be pushed as legislation to be effective, and the ECJ handed down a decision in 2021 that there are situations where right to repair grants the legitimate licensee a right to crack DRM and decompile programs, regardless of the EULA, to restore the functionality they were promised.
                    Interesting. Seems like the EU is way more pro consumer than the US. But I'm genuinely curious if there are cases when something like this is needed for firmware. Like when something doesn't work properly because of a bug in the firmware and the manufacturer never fixed it throughout the product lifetime?

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Gps4life View Post

                      Yes openSUSE is quit strict about their distro being opensource.

                      I remember though while on openSUSE install you can add packman repository, then all audio files and vids should just play.
                      We were talking about the removal of patented video codecs in Fedora and openSUSE. You won't get them back with Packman.
                      https://www.reddit.com/r/openSUSE/co...deo_codecs_as/

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