[Fsf-Debian] few arguments to FSF

Dmitry Smirnov onlyjob at member.fsf.org
Fri Aug 10 12:36:07 UTC 2012

On Fri, 10 Aug 2012 19:23:41 Paul van der Vlis wrote:
> What I would advice, when you have a little money: buy another printer,
> test it, sell this one second hand.

Will do exactly that when time allows. Thank you for your advises.

> > 
> > The above example demonstrate the situation when it is extremely
> > difficult to avoid non-free software/driver.
> Yes, but only because you bought wrong hardware ;-)

My bad, but such mistakes will be made again and again.

Another example: three years ago I started working for a company who already 
bought two Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers for a new project. I was promoting 
Debian to them and in that regards it was absolutely critical for Debian to 
have Broadcom firmware necessary to bring onboard NICs to life.

Without such firmware in 'non-free' I would fail to do my job and ultimately 
Debian would fail. This is a small price to pay for luxury of having Debian on 
every single machine available - if you have many, some of them would require 
proprietary drivers eventually. 

> I can understand that. The point is that many people who use Debian do
> not buy such hardware, so they do not need such drivers, so they don't
> upload them to non-free. It's a circle.

Certainly it's nice if you can buy hardware for Debian.
Often it's about how to use Debian for existent hardware which is already 
bought without such considerations of if you're hiring a server from 

I'm not prepared to give up Debian for the lack of non-free firmware/driver 
which they would use anyway but from CentOS/Fedora/RedHat/younameit.

Non-free helps me to use Debian whenever I can and helps me to promote Debian.
Together with Debian we promote a good attitude against non-free not to ban it 
entirely but to discourage and eventually decommission.

> I don't think we need it *in Debian*. We need it, and we need good
> quality, but it could also come from another good organization.
This is an organisational question which is not that important to me.
It really depends on FSF point of view - if they would be more happy with us 
still maintaining non-free under different governance so be it. However I 
believe we need 'non-free', possibly with different regulations to accommodate 
"good stuff" like documentation. Non-DFSG documentation is better to be a part 
of the project.

> I think we should move non-free parts from Debian, and put it into the
> repositories of something else, I call that "nonfree.org".

Somehow I think it is little more difficult than just move it away....

> I think we can get rid of contrib and non-free by moving it to something
> else. Something we can trust. The same as we have now but not under the
> name "Debian" anymore.

Then we would loose some of the control that we have over non-free. How would 
we guarantee it won't become more evil?
One of the benefits we have in non-free that it is maintained with the same 
procedures so at least it have some qualities. 

For example non-free in Ubuntu may have anything that suits them, poorly 
packaged. Again if I have to install from non-free I'd like it to be Debian 

> But it's only a little step and not the real solution because then we
> still need nonfree.org then. But it makes more clear that Debian is
> about free software.

It is already clear. So far we had non-free as a necessary strategic 
compromise which gives us advantages to stay useful. 

> The real solution must come from alternatives for things like flash,
> good information, and hardware what's tested with free drivers.

So true. :)

But please excuse me for bringing another example: 
in 'non-free' we have a r8168 driver for a family or Realtek NICs most of 
which are supported by free in-kernel driver r8169.

However in-kernel driver doesn't work well for some hardware. In that regards 
you'll never know beforehand if you'll need proprietary driver or not.

The alternative driver available from 'non-free' is still important to have 
not merely for situation when free driver doesn't work but also to check and 
compare if free driver works properly. 
You can read more in http://bugs.debian.org/648286

All the best,

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