on disabling drivers that use non-Free firmware
Richard M Stallman
rms at gnu.org
Tue Jan 13 10:50:35 UTC 2009
If we publish Linux-libre without these drivers, or with these drivers
disabled, devices won't work. This won't stop people from asking
around. They will get answers such as this won't work with
Linux-libre, install this other kernel instead or this won't work
unless you install this firmware file .
That's the same as the situation with blobs in the C files.
Deblobbing inevitably means that some devices don't work,
and leads to consequences along these lines. We just have to
accept them, because the only way to avoid them is to treat
the blobs as legitimate.
If we outright drop the modules, odds are that people who are
sufficiently serious about freedom as to want to run Linux-libre, but
who made the mistake of purchasing a computer with parts whose
manufacturers doesn't respect their freedom, would have to choose
The options they have are the same ones that they have when we
delete a blob from the Linux source code. If they are freedom-lovers,
they will leave that hardware non-functioning _because they don't
want non-free software_. That is what I have done in such cases.
But what people do in those circumstances is a side issue.
The important thing here is to support GNU/Linux distros
that are free and don't recommend any non-free software.
But then, building modules for Linux-libre that would load (or include)
the non-Free firmwares isn't rocket science either, and they might even
be distributed, unlike some well-known non-Free drivers that can only be
distributed in source form.
That is true. Likewise, when we exclude non-free apps from gNewSense,
someone else might release packages designed to install in gNewSense.
We cannot stop that, and we don't try, since the system is supposed
to be general. The point is that what we offer is free, and does not
steer people towards any particular non-free software.
The same argument applies here.
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