September 25, 2022

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Debian may change policy and opens a resolution for closed-source firmware

3 min read

Debian may change policy and opens a resolution for closed-source firmware



 

Debian may change policy and opens a resolution for closed-source firmware.

 

As we all know, Debian currently does not load non-free firmware on its systems by default; 

Phoronix points out that this move means that the relevant hardware will lack hardware acceleration support, and may also mean missing security updates or addressing corresponding usability issues.

 

In response, Debian held discussions earlier this year about changing its stance on closed-source firmware;

it has now moved to a comprehensive decision-making process to solicit stakeholder votes on what to do with non-free firmware.

 

Debian may change policy and opens a resolution for closed-source firmware

 

The discussion period ends in early September, and three proposals are being considered:

 

Proposal A

would include non-free-firmware from Debian archives on official installation media. 

The included firmware binaries are usually enabled by default if the system determines they need it, but where possible also provide a way for the user to disable it at boot (via boot menu options, kernel command line, etc.).

 

When the Installer/live system is running, information about the loaded firmware (free and non-free) is provided to the user and stored on the target system for later discovery by the user.

By default, the target system will also be configured to use non-free-firmware components by default in the apt sources.list file. “Our users should receive security updates and critical fixes for firmware binaries like any other installed software.”

 

These images will be released as official Debian media, replacing media sets that currently do not contain non-free firmware packages.

 

Proposal B   

Include non-free firmware into the official medium in a similar fashion to Proposition A. But the difference is that while these images will be officially released, they will not  replace the current media sets that do not contain non-free firmware packages , but will be provided alongside them.

 Images containing non-free firmware will be presented more prominently for easy finding; fully-free images will not be hidden; they will be linked from the same project page, but with lower visual priority.

 

Proposal C

The Debian Project allows distribution media containing packages from the non-free part of the Debian archive to be made available for download along with free media to inform users of which are free before downloading.

 

See the  Debian general resolution page for more details .



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