debian kernel, firmware and virtualisation

The debian GNU/Linux kernel’s firmware content is one of the most troubling bugs, and (as I understand it):

  • it mostly came from upstream (so fixing it only in debian isn’t sustainable),
  • it’s something some FSF supporters kick us for (often while ignoring other not-aiming-for-100%-free systems and turning a blind eye to the non-program problem in their own back yard) and
  • it’s actually pretty hard to fix and even harder to get paid for fixing.

The latest Bits from the kernel team included: “A constructive discussion was held about the outstanding firmware issues, how the team addresses them and how we might work with upstream to address our DSFG issues with kernel sources.”

The fuller minutes expand it a little: “The main topic was concerned with continued splitting of non free firmware and ensuring Debian kernels remain useful even with our DSFG challenges. Discussion about upstream firmware releases and general agreement was reached to talk to Dave Woodhouse about this (as he did most of the upstream firmware splits) . Action item for Vince and Max to talk to Dave Woodhouse.”

Good luck and thanks for working on this!

Another interesting point for our co-op is that xen dom 0 patches “will be included in the squeeze kernel release subject to ongoing stabilisation work. The feature will be marked as deprecated and will not appear in future releases.” vserver (which I still use on one server) is also going away, but that’s less of a surprise.

It appears that OpenVZ is the only one with continuing support in the debian kernel, so I guess I’d better take another look at it (after it failed messily last time I tried).

Will you be changing your virtualisation approach? Do you think debian will get any encouragement for its firmware-splitting, or more flaming for not going far enough?

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