The developers behind the Debian Linux distribution are preparing for the upcoming release of Debian 5, which is codenamed Lenny. The decision to move forward with the release follows a contentious vote over whether to permit the inclusion of binary blobs in the new version of the distribution. Consensus coalesced around a controversial proposal to "assume blobs comply with the GPL unless proven otherwise."
The issue centers around a long-running dispute about the licensing implications of allowing binary firmware components to be bundled in the kernel. Although the practice of embedding proprietary firmware in hardware devices is widely accepted, some free software purists object to scenarios where the binary firmware components are stored in the kernel and loaded into the hardware at runtime. The debate over this issue has raged for years and a close examination of what it entails is beyond the scope of this article.