Free Linux distro Debian has been working steadily on its next version 5.0 of the OS, known as Lenny. Now developers have been called in for a vote to determine the course of its general release.
The debate centers around whether or not to accept proprietary firmware in Debian, with or without published source code, and if the guidelines could thereby be violated. Part of the debate also addresses possible violations of the GPL. One of the choices is to assume that these proprietary firmware “blobs” comply unless proven otherwise. Blobs are typically microcode that drive hardware components. As described in the First Call for Votes, these blobs are often distributed by firmware vendors without sources or documentation. Through one of its voting choices, the release team allows the option to exclude these source requirements: “By excluding such firmware from Debian we exclude users that require such devices… or make it unnecessarily hard for them.”