[linux-audio-dev] Request to audio related LiveCD packagers

Andrea Glorioso andrea.glorioso at agnula.org
Thu Apr 29 18:00:10 UTC 2004

Dear all,

Takashi from ALSA asked me to put him on Cc: in order to discuss the
whole issue in great depth - since he's overburden by e-mail (how I
can understand that!) he prefers to be able to follow the thing more
directly, hence the Cc:.

Let's keep discussing.  My personal goal is  to reach a wide consensus
amongst  the community (counting  the ALSA folks,  the LAD people, and
possibly the FSFE - as well, of course, the  AGNULA project people) on
this subject, and then decide for a route to follow.

What I don't want to do (and I can't do) is  simply deciding by myself
to   include possibly non-free     software (if you consider  firmware
software, which is another problem) inside AGNULA.



>>>>> "Andrea" == Andrea Glorioso <andrea.glorioso at agnula.org> writes:

    > [I'm putting the users@ and developers at lists.agnula.org on Cc:
    > for informational purposes, and the team at fsfeurope.org to hear
    > the opinion of the FSFE on the matter.  If LADders prefer not to
    > continue the discussion on linux-audio-dev, I'm sure nobody will
    > object to removing the latter list from the Cc:s :) ]

    > [For the list on Cc: we are talking about the redistributability
    > and GNU GPL compliance of the alsa-firmware package, as well as
    > of firmware in general, I'd say]

>>>>> "Thomas" == Thomas Charbonnel <thomas at undata.org> writes:

    >> First of all thanks for Dyne:bolic :) All README files from the
    >> alsa-firmware package grant copyright to the respective
    >> companies with the statement 'Redistributable under the GPL',
    >> so I guess the answer is yes.  As far as I'm concerned we
    >> received several verbal and mail confirmations from RME that we
    >> could redistribute the files, and Matthias Carstens (who I just
    >> met last week) promised me an official written statement.

    > I absolutely don't want to start a legal debate here, given that
    > it would probably be off topic and the issue has already been
    > (and is being) widely discussed on the debian-legal mailing
    > list, but please notice that AFAICT distributing binaries under
    > the GNU GPL license means that the distributor must

    > (a) Accompany [the program] with the complete corresponding
    > machine-readable source code [...]

    > (b) Accompany [the program] with a written offer, valid for at
    > least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more
    > than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a
    > complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code
    > [...]

    > (there is also option (c), see the GNU GPL v.2 for further
    > details)

    > The point here is understanding what the `source' of a piece of
    > firmware is.

    > The GNU GPL defines the `source' as the "the preferred form of
    > the work for making modifications to it".  Now the debate on
    > debian-legal has been whether the hex-expressed firmware
    > discovered in various kernel files was actually hand-modified by
    > the "distributor" with a hex editor, or a higher-level language
    > was used.  If the latter is true, then the GNU GPL has been
    > breached (because I've never seen the source code of the
    > alsa-firmware package, please correct me if I'm wrong).

    > So, saying that the firmware is "distributable under the GNU
    > GPL" is not sufficient `per se' to prove that the firmware
    > itself is Free Software.

    > My personal position is one of being a bit more pragmatic.  A
    > large part of the hardware we use actually has firmware embedded
    > into it, the only difference being that we don't see it and we
    > don't need to upload it (for example, AFAICR the Pentium IV
    > automatically translates standard Intel machine code into an
    > internal, risc-like, set of instructions - nobody is asking
    > Intel for the source code of *that* firmware).

    > The issue is thorny and I agree that a Live CD without
    > alsa-firmware is not particularly efficient.  On the other hand,
    > I do see legal (as well as ethical, if one wants to go down that
    > route) problems in distributing non-free firmware.  I'd like to
    > understand the various options a bit more before launching
    > ourselves into the "users-need-it-so-lets-package-it" frenzy
    > (I'd rather tell users that they must bug the companies they buy
    > hardware from to release the `source code' of the firmware
    > needed to operate those cards under GNU/Linux, if we discover
    > that the firmware is actually non-free).

    > Usual caveats apply: IANAL, YMMV, etc, etc.  If anybody has a
    > deeper insight into the matter I'd love hearing it, since the
    > problem has been a PITA for us for a long time (see the
    > lists.agnula.org archives and devel.agnula.org `demudi'
    > project's bug lists if you are interested).

    > Bye,

    > -- Andrea Glorioso andrea.glorioso at agnula.org AGNULA Technical
    > Manager http://www.agnula.org/ M: +39 333 820 5723 F: +39 (0)51
    > 930 31 133 "Libre Audio, Libre Video, Libre Software: AGNULA"

Andrea Glorioso                      andrea.glorioso at agnula.org
AGNULA Technical Manager                 http://www.agnula.org/
M: +39 333 820 5723                     F: +39 (0)51 930 31 133
      "Libre Audio, Libre Video, Libre Software: AGNULA"

More information about the Linux-audio-dev mailing list