Steven J Vaughan-Nichols on The new Debian Linux: Irrelevant? | ZDNet:
“For example, the default Debian distributions won’t include any proprietary firmware binary files… If, as is likely if you’re using a laptop or a PC with high-end graphics and you find you’re running into hardware problems, the Debian installation program should alert you the problem. That’s fine as far as it goes, but the installation routine won’t automatically download the missing firmware from the Web. Instead, you’ll need to pause the installation while you fetch the missing in action firmware from either the Debian non-free firmware ftp site or the vendor’s site.
The theory is that by doing this outraged users will demand that hardware vendors will open-source their device drivers, or, at the least, let Linux developers write open-source drivers for proprietary hardware. In practice, it doesn’t work that way.”
While the commitment to free software inconveniences users who want to mix-and-match how much they use it, it will remain a niche choice.