A few months ago before writing here, I had debuted as a writer on Frannoe's blog. One of the first articles I did was called "Firmware, a debutante's nightmare". Now is the time to write the second chapter.
I recently read the news of the plans Stefano zacchiroli (Debian project leader) so that finally universal distribution among the list of distributions recommended by the Free Software Foundation (along with distributions that mark the north such as Trisquel, Blax, gNewSense, Venenux, Musix and Dynebolic). In fact, a mailing list has been opened where you can start talking about any related idea. Needless to say, the friction has already started: that the FSFists want to end non-free repositories, that the Debianites say that this violates the Debian contract, etc.
I do not mean to go against those who consider that Debian deserves to be included in the list of distributions recommended by the FSF (even if only using the main repository), but I want to emphasize something. What the FSF is concerned about Debian is not only the maintenance of the contrib and non-free repositories, but also the ease with which these can be accessed (As easy as doing sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list and adding contrib and non free at the end of each line.) ESA is the reason why they do not include Debian. With Squeeze and its free kernel they came a little closer, but not as close as the FSF would like.
The most critical of all this is going to be when it comes to dealing with non-free firmware, that annoying thing that gets in the way of having the computer "100% free" (free according to RMS). That for not being free, forces you to decide between being a slave to a need such as connecting to the Internet via wireless or having graphics acceleration OR EVEN START LINUX, or be deprived of these needs ………… but be free. Stallman does not need graphics acceleration because it only uses the desktops to run graphics applications (see a pdf or an image) but most of the time he uses the console. Nor does it need a Wi-Fi connection since most of the time it does not have access to the Internet and only connects to read and send emails. (and from Emacs)Therefore with an Ethernet cable you can spare. And with the BIOS, the Lemote he had left him with a clear conscience. Without a doubt, removing needs will make you climb faster in the Maslow's pyramid.
But of course, we do not all have the same needs. I fortunately do not need graphic acceleration (I don't like to have effects on the screen, beyond the conky), but I do need to connect to the internet via wireless since there are 3 computers in my house (a PC and 2 notebooks) and a wifi router that is only directly connected to the PC. Besides in my faculty there are Wi-Fi zones to be able to connect in "emergency cases". But more than anything, the shameful experience I had with mobile broadband made me have the need for my internet connection to be optimal and not to cut off every few minutes. And as for the BIOS, the only thing I consider necessary is that it can load the operating system of my choice.
That leads me to ask a question that many of us ignore: For what reasons do hardware companies make drivers for GNU / Linux? but more important How much significance can users of 100% free distros have? Users demanding in terms of freedom they advise only buying hardware that works with 100% free software, regardless of performance. They are quite convinced that if linuxers stopped using cards NVIDIA, the company will have no choice but to release its drivers. However, there is a risk that NVIDIA (just like Adobe did with Flash) occurs to him stop making versions of your drivers for GNU / Linux and only be dedicated to Windows and Mac users (90% or more). Which scenario is most likely, which NVIDIA free your drivers to GNU / Linux or to remove them in the face of low demand? And as I tell you NVIDIA, I tell you any other company that manufactures non-free drivers.
I don't know what can get out of Debian's attempt to reconcile with the FSF, but there is a fear that the rapprochement between these two will cause many users to move away from Debian. just for the firmware issue (assuming they won't need any other proprietary programs). Here in Uruguay the hardware is not cheap, the options are not so many and the sellers assume that you are not prissy in terms of software. A bad decision in the purchase of hardware will make the experience in a 100% free distro a unbearable and when you ask for help they tell you fuck you. Result: such a waste of money and a feeling of sadness and incapacity so great ……………………… ..as if your computer was stolen.
Finally I leave these links:
Mailing List for discussion between FSF and Debian: http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/fsf-collab-discuss/
A vote that ruined relations: http://www.debian.org/vote/2004/vote_002
The use of Stallman's Lemote: http://richard.stallman.usesthis.com/
Site to avoid disappointment: http://www.h-node.org/
PS: I've been using Sabayon Linux 9 since Friday and I can't help but be surprised that my broadcom 432b was recognized ON THE LIVE DVD. This did not happen to me with Ubuntu. I still know how to install firmware from sources for when I use another distribution.