Debian begins general resolution to decide what to do with non-free firmware

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Debian has begun a general resolution process to solicit a vote from its stakeholders on what to do with nonfree firmware.

Debian currently does not load non-free firmware by default on its systems, even if that means there is no hardware support/acceleration without these binaries. Not loading nonfree firmware can also mean missing security updates or fixing usability issues.

Earlier this year there was a discussion about Debian changing its closed source firmware stance and now it is moving forward in the general resolution process.


Debian Developers will vote on how to handle non-free firmware in the future.

Until early September is the discussion period before the general resolution vote to solidify Debian’s new position on non-free firmware. The options considered are:

Option A – Include non-free firmware packages on official installation media. Firmware binaries would normally be enabled by default if needed for hardware support, but explore ways to allow users to disable boot support if desired. The Debian installer or the live system would have a way to inform the user of the loaded firmware whether it is free or not. This would replace the current Debian installation media which does not include non-free firmware packages.

Option B – Include non-free firmware on official media along similar lines to option A. However, the difference is that this option would not replace current Debian media sets. These Debian images would be separate and complementary images to the current installation media which does not include non-free firmware.

Option C – Create installation media containing packages from the non-free firmware section of the Debian archive and make it available for download with free media (purely free software) in such a way that the user is informed before downloading support free version option.

See the general Debian resolution page for the options offered in their entirety.

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