Debian is currently investigating the possibility of changing how it handles non-free firmware, moving the discussion to a general resolution process.
Debian is one of the oldest Linux distributions (distros) and serves as the basis of many others, including Canonical’s Ubuntu. Unlike Ubuntu, and the countless distros based on it, Debian does not currently include non-free software. According to Phoronix, that could be about to change.
The discussion regarding whether or not to include non-free firmware has moved to a general resolution phase. There are three options being considered:
- Include non-free firmware as part of the official installation, loading it by default when needed while still giving users the option to use only free firmware.
- Include non-free firmware options, but not make them the default.
- Separate the two different options into individual downloads — one installation download with non-free firmware and one without.
If Debian does move forward with one of the proposed options, it could significantly lower the barrier to entry for new users. Debian is often touted as one of the most stable and reliable Linux distros, but many new users are intimidated by the prospect of manually installing non-free firmware their computers may need to run efficiently. Non-free firmware can include improved security for some machines as well.