Debian Begins A General Resolution To Decide What To Do With Non-Free Firmware

Written by Michael Larabel in Debian on 27 August 2022 at 12:24 PM EDT. 51 Comments
Debian has begun a general resolution process to solicit a vote by its stakeholders what to do with non-free firmware.

Debian currently doesn't load non-free firmware by default on its systems, even when it means no working hardware support/acceleration without those binary elements. Not loading the non-free firmware can also mean missing out on security updates or for addressing usability issues.

Earlier this year was a discussion about Debian changing its closed-source firmware stance and now it's moving forward into the general resolution process.

Debian developers will be voting on how to deal with non-free firmware moving forward.

Until the start of September is the discussion period ahead of the general resolution vote for solidifying Debian's new stance on non-free firmware. The options being considered are:

Option A - Include non-free firmware packages on the official installation media. The firmware binaries would be normally enabled by default where needed for hardware support but explore ways to let users disable the support at boot if desired. The Debian installer or live system would have a means of informing the user about what firmware is loaded whether it be free or non-free. This would replace Debian's current install media that does not include the non-free firmware packages.

Option B - Include non-free firmware onto the official media along similar lines to Option A. However, the difference is this option would not replace the current Debian media sets. These Debian images would be separate, complementary images to the current install media that does not include non-free firmware.

Option C - Making install media that contains packages from the non-free firmware section of the Debian archive and make it available for download alongside the free (purely free software) media in a way that the user is informed before downloading the media about the free option.

See the Debian general resolution page for the proposed options in full.
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