Debian on the verge to include non-free firmware in official releases

@dalto contributes heavily to both calamares codebase and EndeavourOS codebase. He is also the main developer of btrfs assistant. I would say he knows a whole lot about Linux and computing.

Also, personal attacks on a Linux forum makes you look bad.

1 Like

No, it is not based on the FSF-rules. Thats also why a OpenWrt reproducible(compile) release that use only free software and ath9k hardware is also not a fsf-cert licenced.
And the worst example: Libreboot is using the closed source microcode inside the cpu that the cpu is been shipped with. Is this free? No! Is it even (partly)secure? No, its full with critical bugs that are fixed in later microcode releases. But FSF say that this preinstalled microcode is free.
There are free software facts and there is some certification crap for people that dont like to learn much about the things they use.

Not really. Like i already wrote: If you dont care, you take a look why its not working and then take the nonfree iso.
But what happens and i have meet people that handled that way: A small amount of people say: Why should i use a wifi card with more then 450Mbit when i have just a 20Mbit internet connection and like most people no home (file)server. Then i can also use a 450Mbit 2,4+5Ghz wifi card and everything is fine.
Nvidia 700series GPUs are also fine for most people that are not gamers(bigger amount of linux users). Just take a 700series GPU and stick it into the x16-PCIe slot.

Yes, it work fine on modern 64Core UEFI servers/workstations. Because this is not about my personal opinion but about facts in this thread-topic about non-free firmware images, this is not a point.
But its nice to hear that you know that this is closed source software preinstalled on your mainboard that could be hacked and carry on security issues if you already have reinstalled the OS. You probably would like to use free UEFI implementation like Tianocore combined with coreboot - independent if debian work with no difference on both setups (open and closed source UEFI implementation).

Dont set all laptops equal. Debian default iso work fully fine with wifi on different laptops. And if its not working with your wifi card then like i wrote before: Dont be lazy, connect the network cable to the machine or choose the long existing iso with preinstalled closed source stuff.

Thanks for mentioning. Fixing the typo…

I try to talk about just facts. Not opinions.

I dont know in what country you live in. In democracy with free speech you can do studies and try to stay as rational as possible. Talk about this and raise your voice if something is not the way it should be based on facts you have understood and learned about deeply.
I expect that you also have the believe that for example if a person think that the earth is flat, leaving this person with this opinion is “tolerance”. Its not. Its just the lazy way to go to not have to spend time teaching rational facts.
Thousands of people have died in the human history because they believed in the wrong fantasy version of god in their region. Some have been burned to death because they explained facts for example in medicine and that rationality+logical thinking was set equal to witch.
I am also spending hours in now writing this things here to not go the lazy way and just ignore the closed-source tolerance debian is going on now. There is a hope someone would read and understand what i write here and why and this could hopefully stop debian to move this direction.

Yes. I hope in the best of the best. You have to imagine that and live it to be able to go further.

Debian was never the distro for such user. This was Ubuntu, Manjaro, MX-Linux, Linux Mint, … . What you are talking about could be told about Trisquel or PureOS. Both really user-friendly and running Linux-Libre kernel.
But anyway - i dont believe in the bad, i believe in the good and have hopes in intelligent and critical thinking people like Aaron Swartz was one of.

It has worked fine.

No, its because of the defaulting to netinstaller and no graphical installer like on other distros where you kind of just press the next-button.
Having to use a different iso to get wifi working or otherwise having to connect a cable cant be the main argument. I dont want to accept that the society we live in is that terrible. Having to connect one more cable additional to the power cable if not using the iso with closed-source binary preinstalled is too much work and the main reason for not having a bigger debian userbase? No, i wont ever accept this terrible view of the society. Then i can also directly give up my whole work i do for public knowledge on different platforms.

Then make better documentation and teach the humans on this planet instead of making the default choice in Debian worse.

Yes, i confirm that. All people have a different learning type. But its about the moving of an other distro additional to the already existing ones to the “closed source software by default” route. Debian should stay special and have it special learning curve where you have to add yourself the closed-source software that is available at debian servers but not there on default.
Take for example the image building of PostmarketOS. You get asked if you want closed source software and it explains what is bad about that. This is a second way to go and explain people about that. A third way (and worst of them) is to have it in the iso and set default boot to free-drivers only and the people have to choose closed-source software drivers at a second iso boot if the missed something with the default boot option.
But having them just inside preinstalled and hiding the fact from the users is the way of not pointing the people to this freedom-issue and something that should not be done.

Yes, i know few of those people. From those i learned first about EndeavourOS.
BUT: One of those people know exactly about closed source software. The person is using only free software capable hardware with a coreboot machine. This person would like to have a EndeavourOS iso release with linux-libre kernel but there is none existing at the moment. Maybe EndeavourOS based on parabola instead of arch would be a nice additional choice. Such a release of EndeavourOS wont change a single point of functionality of his machine.

I tried to make the point as clear as possible. Because the ideology shown by what is written was the one behind BSD. Not behind copyleft(linux). This was not meant as a personal attack in the way like most other people do to just bump their self-esteem or something like that. I think it was not really misunderstood because the conversation have not stopped at this point and the arguments in the discussion have continued.

In the article, I probably like this option most Advertise the images with non-free firmware as official, alongside the classic "pure" Debian image

Leaving the freedoms of choice to the user.

1 Like

It’s right not to accept it.

The society we live in is actually much much worse than what you stated.


I’m also finding this whole thread pretty hilarious. Did you get booted from the Debian forum a couple days ago and found this place to continue to argue your point?

We have literally like 100 distros because so many people disagree on these things. If you’re that passionate about how Debian does things, make your own distro with no closed source anything and use that. You’re clearly very excited about it.

Check out parabola Linux, I believe that’s the one, it’s like Arch based, zero closed software.

Personally I like where things are because we do currently have a wide variety of choices: we can still purchase commercial software, there are sufficient copies of source code that we can personally experiment with and modify to our heart’s content (for those of us who have any skill to do so, and the time to do it). we can use, without mandatory financial cost, a variety of freely available binary systems. To me, this is more than enough choices; for those who want something else, there is the freedom available to build whatever you want; that’s plenty of freedom, no matter how we decide to define “freedom”!

Unfortunately there are those who believe “freedom of choice” should only apply to them and they should get to choose for others. You see this with the small but loud minority pushing back on the possibility that Debian might offer a non-free option officially as opposed to the unofficial one they already offer.

At this point I see the argument as philosophical, bordering on religious. And a little silly. If someone doesn’t like the way their favorite distro is going there’s plenty of others to choose from. Even for those who are staunchly FOSS. It’s not like Debian is the last bastion. They have a choice. So do we, if practicality wins out in our minds over FOSS adherence (those poor NVIDIA card owners).

1 Like

It’s actually sad… Debian did not include non-free firmware for years and the situation did not get better but only worse. It seems like the corporate always wins…

Having said that what are people supposed to do? Not use their hardware that requires non-free firmware? I mean we are all on an Arch Linux based distro: “Arch is a pragmatic distribution rather than an ideological one.

Unless a thing like “free/open hardware” certification is pushed situation may not improve… it’s almost impossible to know if a distro like Debian runs on a laptop without trying…

1 Like

I tried it (free version) on many laptops. It runs, but without wifi :smiling_face_with_tear:

I find it amusing that people think there is a need for something that has already existed. Debian has, for years, offered the unofficial ISOs with firmware included. Why do people think there is a need to call those ISOs official? The current naming of the ISOs allows Debian to have its cake and eat it too. They can view themselves as righteous and claim to only provide untainted official install media, AND provide easy access to firmware included media if the user wants it. What is the friggin’ problem? People believe this has held Debian back? That notion is silly. Debian has been relatively easy to install since the days of Sarge back in 2005.

  • Because the vast majority of people download the default ISO without realizing there are others.
  • Because many people have no idea what firmware is and thus don’t know if they need it or not.
  • Because many people are uncomfortable selecting something labeled “unofficial”
  • Because why make people search for some alternative ISO to make commonly available hardware work.

Why not make the default ISO include the firmware and offer an alternative ISO without it?


Debian does not make anyone search for the firmware version:

It is right there as a clickable link to download. It has not always been that easy to find, but it is now. The official images without the firmware are official because the non-free section of the repository is not included in the default install. The non-free components being separate allows Debian to maintain their position of being a free operating system, officially. Nothing wrong with that.

Linux is a learning journey, and Debian is just one path a user can take.

I think they updated this in 2022. Before we had to click our way through numerous websites. I was one of those people who didnt even know the non-free existed, and had to use a ethernet cable and sit next to my router to install my wifi firmware.

That was in 2020 btw. Then I found out by coincidence watching youtube movie, average linux user, that there was a non-free iso. Sounded shaddy to me.

Here is the actual download page linked from the website. At the top there is a clear link for an ISO to download.

Buried in the middle of the page is something labelled twice as unofficial which offers to take you to another page where you might download it. That isn’t something the average user would know or want to click.

There is nothing wrong with that at all. If that is what the Debian developers want. However, it seems they may want something else. That should also be their choice.

1 Like

" Non-free Firmware

This is an official Debian image build and so only includes Free Software.

For convenience for some users, there is an alternative unofficial netinst CD build which includes non-free firmware for extra support for some awkward hardware. Look under /cdimage/unofficial/non-free/cd-including-firmware/ if you need that CD image instead."

Yes, Debian did make the user click through several links before hitting the non-free firmware ISOs.

But, what you went through was a learning experience. If you thought the term unofficial sounded shady, why did you want to trust an official installer and then add the “shady” bits after the install? To get your hardware working. 6 of one, half dozen of another. :slight_smile:

I have several recent Lenovo Thinkpad (home and work), not really anything awkward…

Because I am curious and adventurous :cowboy_hat_face:

“Awkward” is a strange word to use in this context, I agree. However, I have just learned that Debian website maintainers may not possess the best descriptive writing skills. :stuck_out_tongue:


There’s a good reason for those skills. It’s one of the reasons EndeavourOS is more popular than, say, ArcoLinux. Who’s website may have been designed by the same web designer as Slack and Debian. :slight_smile:

Its personal ok for me. My personal opinion is. You have te right to use your own computer. If non free drivers helps… then is ok lol

All these points boil down to:

  • People are ignorant.

Personally, I don’t think it’s good to cater to people’s ignorance, but rather give them an opportunity to overcome their ignorance.

Of course, I’m not a Debian developer (nor a Debian user, for that matter), so it’s not my place to say whether Debian should consider ignoramuses their ideal user group.