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Thursday, 16 December 2010 11:44

Next Debian release to have 'free' kernel

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The forthcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux, version 6.0 or Squeeze, will have a completely free kernel without any binary blobs, according to an announcement from the project.


The word free refers to freedom, not price. Debian, at present, ships a kernel with its default images that includes binary firmware.

The release said that Debian developers had been working on stripping all non-free firmware from the kernel since Etch (version 4.0). This had continued in the next release cycle, Lenny. However it had not been possible to complete the task.

"We have nonetheless kept on working on splitting away non-free bits from the Linux kernel, thanks to the work of the Debian Kernel team and various Linux upstream developers," the release said.

"We are proud to announce that, to the best of our knowledge, all issues are solved and that we will be able to deliver a Linux kernel which is completely Free, according to the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) , with Debian Squeeze."

For those users who require non-free firmware that does not conform to the DFSG, these will be added to the non-free area of the archives for the moment.

"For the time being, we have added to the "non-free" area of our archives alternative installation images and additional packages for Debian Squeeze, that include non-free firmware bits needed to enable specific pieces of hardware," the release said.

"They are not part of Debian, they should be looked for explicitly by interested users, and we cannot support them to the same extent of Free firmware as we do not have access to the corresponding source code. We encourage hardware manufacturers to release only DFSG-free firmware and we cannot accept other kind of firmware as part of Debian."

Debian GNU/Linux is a 17-year-old project which produces one of the best distributions and caters to the most architectures. Squeeze will include a port based on the FreeBSD kernel as well.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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