Re: Debian Stretch new user report (vs Linux Mint)
- Date: Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:32:45 +0100
- From: Jeroen Dekkers <jeroen@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: Re: Debian Stretch new user report (vs Linux Mint)
On Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:31:14 +0100,
Jonathan Dowland wrote:
> On Fri, Dec 01, 2017 at 08:28:49AM +0000, Simon McVittie wrote:
> > I doubt there was any such decision, except by not knowing there was a
> > decision that could be made. The official, fully Free ISO (which is OK
> > for VMs and some embedded systems, but normally a trap for the PCs we
> > expect new users to be using) is the one you get when you point a browser
> > to debian.org and click the prominent "Download Debian" link. The one
> > with the firmware is hidden behind a door marked "beware of the leopard"
> > because we don't want to be seen to be endorsing or recommending non-free
> > software.
> Simon, your mail has really motivated me to stick my head up a bit,
> because I'm really uncomfortable with the status quo with this exact
> issue in Debian, and although I think it will be very difficult and
> quite possibly painful, I think something needs to change, and your mail
> has helped me to face up to that.
> IMHO, we need to go (more) one way or the other. We either reaffirm that
> firmware is in-scope for our DFSG values and stop compromising it with
> the non-free install images, or we look to revise the DFSG in line with
> modern realities and can "promote" the status of the installer images
> with firmware. That seems much harder: there have been brave efforts
> to reform the DFSG before, not least by Ian; and they have not
> succeeded. However, I think the project is healthier in one way from
> those days, we've weathered some fierce debates and I think we've grown
> as a project in the way we communicate together to resolve problems.
I don't think we have to change the DFSG. The DFSG defines what is
free software and in my opinion it is pretty clear that firmware is
software and therefore non-free firmware is non-free software.
The Social Contract already says that our priorities are our users
*and* free software and also acknowledges that users might require
non-free software. It also says we will provide an integrated system
of high-quality materials. It doesn't say that free software is of
As normal with foundation documents there is room for interpretation.
In my opinion changing the Debian website such that in every place we
list both an installation image with and without non-free firmware
wouldn't be in conflict with the Social Contract. We mention non-free
software in other places too, for example if I search for software on
packages.debian.org I also get non-free packages. The installer also
asks whether you want to install non-free software. (But that is maybe
only in expert mode? I always run the installer in expert mode so I am
not sure what the normal questions are.)
So it is already okay to ask the user whether the user wants to
install non-free software, but the problem is that it is pretty
difficult to download non-free software if you need that non-free
software for your network connection. I don't see why solving this
chicken-and-egg problem by prominently providing installation images
with such firmware wouldn't be an acceptable compromise.
Also not updating the processor microcode by default is in my opinion
in direct conflict with that users are our priority and that "we will
provide an integrated system of high-quality materials", but that's
probably a slightly different subject because it is not required to be
on the installation medium.