- Debian will include non-free firmware packages from the “non-free-firmware” section of the Debian archive on the official media.
- The included firmware binaries will normally be enabled by default when the system determines that they are required.
- This ballot option supersedes the Debian Social Contract under point 4.1.5 of the constitution and thus requires a 3:1 majority, but it easily passed.
The Debian community decided that the popular distro should include proprietary drivers and firmware. The Debian community voted on incorporating non-free firmware in Debian in September, which can be one of the biggest changes in the 29-year Debian history. The voting was made with the Condorcet method and Proposal E, Choice 5 won, which will change the Debian Social Contract.
Non-free firmware packages
From now on, Debian will include non-free firmware packages on both the official installer and live images. These firmware binaries will be enabled by default if required. However, it is not something new for Linux distros. Most distros, such as Arch Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint, also include proprietary drivers and software.
To include proprietary code in Debian also requires changing the Debian Social Contract with a three-to-one supermajority, which is passed easily. Users who prefer running a Linux distro without proprietary code can use Debian-based PureOS and Ubuntu-based Trisquel. The Debian Social Contract is replaced with a new version that is identical to the current version in all respects except that it adds the following sentence to the end of point 5:
« The Debian official media may include firmware that is otherwise not part of the Debian system to enable use of Debian with hardware that requires such firmware. »
The Debian Project also makes the following statement on an issue of the day:
« We will include non-free firmware packages from the “non-free-firmware” section of the Debian archive on our official media (installer images and live images). The included firmware binaries will normally be enabled by default where the system determines that they are required, but where possible we will include ways for users to disable this at boot (boot menu option, kernel command line etc.).
When the installer/live system is running we will provide information to the user about what firmware has been loaded (both free and non-free), and we will also store that information on the target system such that users will be able to find it later. Where non-free firmware is found to be necessary, the target system will also be configured to use the non-free-firmware component by default in the apt sources.list file. Our users should receive security updates and important fixes to firmware binaries just like any other installed software.
We will publish these images as official Debian media, replacing the current media sets that do not include non-free firmware packages. »