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Re: Debian Stretch new user report (vs Linux Mint)

Adam Borowski <kilobyte@xxxxxxxxxx> writes:

> No distruption for existing systems, satisfies those concerned about
> accidentally installing "real" software (as much as the notion of
> executable code running on another processor in your machine, or even
> deeper inside the same processor, being less of software, is ridiculous
> to me).

It's not necessarily that it's less of software, but that the licensing
issues are very unlikely to be blockers for how the software is used
(hopefully we wouldn't even package firmware that put restrictions on how
people use their computer, and that's not at all a standard thing to see
in such licenses).  That makes some of the practical issues of non-free
software less likely to apply, such as whether it would compromise the
free software status of some related project when looking for solutions to
a particular problem.

Also, while this is certainly debatable, I do feel like firmware is
farther down the "supply chain" of computing and the free software
campaign, on a practical level, has been pushing software freedom slowly
farther and farther down the supply chain.  At the start of free software,
the only option was around end-user-installed supplemental software.  Then
we got free operating systems, but things like BIOS were uniformly
non-free.  Now we're starting to take a serious look at free firmware, but
there's almost nothing in the way of free processor microcode
(particularly for mass-market general-purpose non-embedded computing).

We'd like to get all the way to free software for everything, but we've
always had to make compromises around the pieces for which there isn't
(yet) a free software alternative, until we've managed to build those
alternatives.  Software tightly linked to hardware is inherently harder
because it's more difficult, as a community, to make our own hardware than
it is to make our own "pure" software.  It makes sense to me that it's
taking longer and we have to make practical compromises for longer than we
do for non-hardware-linked software.

Russ Allbery (rra@xxxxxxxxxx)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>