Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

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Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby stevepusser » 2020-07-19 04:18

Debian finally updated the non-free firmware in Sid to a snapshot from late April 2020, so it should be in testing soon and then buster-backports. The upstream packages have been safe to install on stable in the past, but I'll add them to my own repo on the OBS tomorrow, too.
Last edited by stevepusser on 2020-07-20 02:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Firmware finally updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-07-19 05:22

Woot! Thanks for the heads up and keeping tabs on this. Good to see you're doing alright Stevep. Been out of circulation a few months here. :)
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Re: Firmware finally updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2020-07-19 19:41

stevepusser wrote:Yay?

Yay! :D

Wonder why it's from April :?
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Re: Firmware finally updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay

Postby LE_746F6D617A7A69 » 2020-07-19 20:07

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Wonder why it's from April :?

Perhaps because Debian devs are testing the firmware before adding it to official repos?
The previous update was not a year ago, as it is claimed, see this:
http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=145496&start=15#p722139
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Re: Firmware finally updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay

Postby stevepusser » 2020-07-20 02:40

LE_746F6D617A7A69 wrote:
Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Wonder why it's from April :?

Perhaps because Debian devs are testing the firmware before adding it to official repos?
The previous update was not a year ago, as it is claimed, see this:
http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=145496&start=15#p722139


Well, it's a snapshot of the huuuge majority of non-free firmware from a year ago. The Broadcom cutter is the exception that proves the rule. I wonder if the magic rose died after a year, so they had to beat the deadline in dramatic fashion.

Your comment in that link about MX not having any newer firmware was incorrect. By that time, I had already ported over the linux-firmware package from Ubuntu because of the delay. Without it, we wouldn't have MX being an option for OEM install on the Star Labs laptops. I'll have to create a metapackage for MX to pull the packages back in that linux-firmware removed, since I'm not really happy about the Ubuntu package being one big deb that mixes free and non-free firmware and takes up much more disk space.

Here's the backports if anyone else wants to test them. If you're really cautious, make a restore point with Timeshift or other backup tool first: https://build.opensuse.org/package/show ... ware-linux
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby LE_746F6D617A7A69 » 2020-07-20 13:51

stevepusser wrote:Well, it's a snapshot of the huuuge majority of non-free firmware from a year ago. The Broadcom cutter is the exception that proves the rule.

Let's just stick to the facts:
Last time when I compared MX and Debian firmware was on 2020-06-11, and I've checked only the Realtek fw - because that was the topic about.
- Almost all the files in firmware-realtek_20190717-2_all.deb were *exactly* the same as in MX repos - only the file dates were different.
- The Debian fw files were dated on 2019.09.01, which means 10 months now, not a year.
- The Broadcom fw cutter is the exception showing that newest firmware != better firmware -> critical performance regression for some of Broadcom WiFi chips.
- An exception to the rule invalidates the rule ;)

But anyway, I dont want to "fight" with You, Steve - in 'that' topic I've already said, that I really appreciate Your work and efforts put into backporting tons of software - it's really a great job :)
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Re: Firmware finally updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2020-07-20 16:19

LE_746F6D617A7A69 wrote:
Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Wonder why it's from April :?

Perhaps because Debian devs are testing the firmware before adding it to official repos?

But isn't that what Debian testing is for? :P
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby LE_746F6D617A7A69 » 2020-07-20 17:02

No doubt, right You are Mr HOAS! :mrgreen:
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-07-20 18:28

^ Cannot help but like your style. Though also @Stevep's style too. Interesting stuff about firmware & Debian. The isn't that what testing is for perspective of course interesting too but am forced to write this firmware phenomenon off as a Debian is bound to know what they're doing and why it's better this way thing. Emphasis behind the project focuses on stable vs cutting edge pc hardware users(desktop niche users.) Folks using Debian for that purpose should either know what they're doing, what firmware they need and how to set it up or in my view turn to one of the Debian based which attempt to do it for them. Ie: Mx with efforts made towards AHS = Advanced hardware support by Stevep. Maybe Siduction gnu/nix too?

There's also Arch ( for out-of-box cutting edge hardware) or Ubuntu/Linux Mint etc, who make every effort at widest range hardware support. Including newerish for those who don't want to bother learning about gnu/nix. :) Not to say those distro's don't have their share of tech-guru's too though. Only saying for users that want fire and forget with minimal effort, Ubuntu(or based)is the way to go. Long winded way of saying think Debian is focused on big picture and the long game(production environment), Debian on cutting edge pc's for desktop .. a tiny niche usecase and one of the areas Debian based are good for.
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby stevepusser » 2020-07-20 22:35

Yes, there weren't any Debian packages to backport, so for the MX 19.2 "AHS" version we shipped with the "linux-firmware" single big ugly deb that I ported over from Ubuntu and made conflict & replace the Debian firmware packages that had the same files. So the Debian versions are still in our repos, soon to be replaced by the new Sid version, but none of them were installed in the AHS version, which we made for those with new hardware that Buster didn't support (newer kernel, Mesa, firmware, etc.)

I'll be glad to migrate it back to the Debian firmware, so that's why I just sent up an "mx-debian-firmware" metapackage that should let AHS users install and switch back to the multiple nonfree firmware packages included in the standard MX.

Based on user posts in the MX forum, I don't think that the newer hardware that won't run on standard Buster is that tiny of a niche right now, and it's only getting bigger.
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-07-21 07:26

^ More gnu/Linux users the better. More reason for Oem's doing more to support the platform and good of you and Mx in trying to bring better/latest support for newer hardware to Debian stable based. :)

PS, remember seeing in general gnu/Linux lags behind like 2-3yrs on avg before even developing decent support for many newerish tech. So even cutting edge latest available for gnu/linux as far upstream as open source goes(kernel.org and etc) might not have it to give or have it yet. Not a whole bunch anyone downstream can do about that. Still more people using gnu/nix is bound to mean more cooperation from Oem's and quicker efforts to bring support for Linux too.

Jmo the goals and intent behind the Debian project, in particular Debian stable and latest-greatest hardware are in obvious conflict. I personally favor dated hardware (errr cause I'm often broke, for one thing.) Still cool seeing efforts at latest hardware support for it.
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-07-22 06:14

BTW: Really think desktop nix users, all-every distro combined are still mostly perceived as a small niche. Though also think it's a deck is stacked, game is rigged type of situation. As long as I've been using gnu/Linux, getting close to 10yrs now, keep seeing people say gnu/nix represents 2% of computer users. Somehow this number never seems to change. I migrated to using gnu/nix exclusively (4 or 5 yrs ago), over the last decade it's clear a lot of people have started using gnu/Linux too but nope this 2% thing persists. Supposedly there are more ChromeOs users, than gnu/Linux users combined. Though that one I believe. Tracking the number of Chrome bks-etc made/sold makes things easier. This also makes at least two things clear.

1) Only(at least) 2% of computer users know what a good operating system is or means.
2) The people behind Google Inc are obviously fricken geniuses. :)
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby LE_746F6D617A7A69 » 2020-07-22 09:27

Deb-fan wrote:1) Only(at least) 2% of computer users know what a good operating system is or means.

I would say that only 2% of people know how to use computers and not just applications ;)

That 2% means only free distributions - Linux runs most of programmable devices in our world, starting from cheap WiFi routers and ending with the largest server farms and supercomputers - I'm estimating that nearly 100% of people are using Linux in some way, but they just don't realize it :)

A few thoughts about firmware:
Why do we need a firmware?
The answer is quite simple: we don't. The HW manufacturers need it.
Firmware allows to "handover" the testing phase to clients, together will all the costs - development of a new solution takes 10% of time, testing takes 90%. So this allows to significantly shorten the time needed for a new device to enter the market.
If users will discover and describe some problem, the manufacturer will usually provide a fix - for "free" -> but they don't care about the time and money lost by the users due to bugs in the firmware (obviously, corporations do not love their clients -> they love the money).
Firmware lowers the performance of hardware, but it makes the HW "flexible" -> there's no need to replace faulty chips -> they can be reprogrammed, usually degrading the performance even more (e.g. mitigations for spectre, meltdown).
If a new version of firmware introduces a regression (which means that it breaks functionalities that have worked in old version), then the users will cover all the costs - again. ... and so on, and so on ...

Is open source firmware better?
Not directly - it also can have bugs - but it can be reviewed by hundreds of people independently, so bugs are more likely to be avoided.
A very good example is the LinuxBoot - this is probably the only UEFI BIOS in the world which correctly implements the UEFI specifications.
*ALL* other BIOSes are broken in some way - f.e. because none of HW manufacturers is able to correctly implement the ACPI specification :lol:
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-07-23 10:40

First off again want to thank Stevep for even pointing this type of thing out and for all the effort you invest in compiling and packaging software too. Apologize for potentially dragging things off-topic, though sincerely think a lot of my babblings are in some way relevant. Same for this ...

Similar deal with latest Firefox being kept in the unstable branch, not even backported. I've bytched, have moaned, defamed Debian HQ as being azzhats, hypocrites and borderline quasi-traitors to open source for not doing more in supporting the premiere open source web-browser, esp at a time when Google inc(Chrome) is stomping Mozilla's head in. However took me a long time to understand the latest Firefox doesn't align with Debian's main goal, producing the most stable Os on the planet, tested for years, to hell and gone. If it's absolutely mission critical and has to work, any admin w 12 braincells will have to have Debian stable as a candidate on their short-list, top of the list really.

Not like the people who really drive the Debian project don't want users to use latest FF, it's just a very distant consideration vs what they're trying to achieve. Remember when Mozilla maintained a repo for latest FF for Debian stable and think they're acting like idiots by not doing it now. Not like there's any shortage of ways to use latest (or nightly, whichever version of ) FF on Debian stable either. Came to understand that to the Debian project overall, it's likely mostly a non-issue and that to people on the outside looking in things they do might appear craptastic or oddball though have come to conclude there is good reason behind it by folks who have a much better understanding of the what's, why's, who's and how's involved in open source and the part this specific proj plays in it all.

Errr, though point of fact still very much believe, one ... Mozilla, the other Debian or both should put aside whatever feud and backport (or maintain a repo for)latest FF for Debian stable again ... DAMMIT! :)
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Re: Firmware-linux updated in Debian Sid after a year. Yay?

Postby stevepusser » 2020-07-27 03:04

Firefox is a heckuva lot harder to backport for Buster than just simple firmware packages--it needs a series of backports for rustc and cargo.

Anyway, there's a new nonfree firmware snapshot in Sid from 19 June, so that's in my OBS repo now.
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