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The Debian project took the decision in October 2022 to create a new repository component non-free-firmware, and include its content on installation media for the upcoming Debian 12 release (bookworm) to make things easier for our users. This change was implemented in time for the bookworm alpha 2 release of debian-installer in February 2023, and all d-i releases and daily and weekly images since then all include firmware.
For information for older releases, see "Older releases" further down this page.

What is firmware?

Firmware refers to embedded software which controls electronic devices. Well-defined boundaries between firmware and software do not exist, as both terms cover some of the same code. Typically, the term firmware deals with low-level operations in a device, without which the device would be completely non-functional (read more on Wikipedia).

Many devices require firmware to operate. Historically, firmware would be built into the device's ROM or Flash memory, but more and more often, a firmware image has to be loaded into the device RAM by a device driver during device initialisation.

A few firmware images are Free Software and Open Source but unfortunately almost all of them are non-free, which means that Debian cannot include them as normal in the archive under main or contrib.

Using non-free firmware on a Debian system

Debian 12 (bookworm) and later

For Debian 12 onwards, all the packaged non-free firmware binaries that Debian can distribute have been moved to a new component in the Debian archive, called non-free-firmware. If you're upgrading from an older release of Debian and you need these firmware binaries, you should update the apt sources.list on your system to use this new component. If you only had the non-free component enabled on your system to allow you to install firmware, you can safely remove that now.

Debian's installation and live images now include all of those firmware packages. The system should automatically detect, load and install the firmware available for your devices, where possible. There are a small number of cases where Debian can't do this, typically because of not being allowed to distribute the needed firmware binaries.

If you are booting the Debian installer over the network, that will not include all the firmware packages in the initramfs. This is a deliberate choice due to the extra space needed for all the firmware here. Many/most users will already need to modify the initramfs when setting up netboot, so an extra step here is reasonable. Adding the firmware blobs to your initramfs is easy: simply grab the appropriate cpio archive for your target release from and append it directly to the initramfs file.

How to disable detection and use of non-free firmware

From Debian 12, the installer will automatically check for needed firmware blobs and add them as required. If you would prefer it not to, add


to the installer boot parameters as described in the installation guide.

On a Debian Live ISO, add

firmware=never live-installer/enable=false

to the installer boot parameters as described in the Debian Installer Live Manual.

Note: using firmware=never will also skip free firmware detection and installation, so you will have to do it manually in case it is needed.

Older releases

For Debian 11 (bullseye) and older, Debian did not include firmware on official installation and live images. The following sections should help you if you need firmware there.

Firmware during the installation

In some cases the installer detects the need for non-free firmware and prompts the user to make the firmware available to the installer to complete the installation. This can happen, for example, with wireless network cards which often require non-free firmware to function (see ipw2200 for an example).

Installation images with firmware

An easy method is to use an installer image that includes all non-free firmware packages directly. See

Firmware on removable media

You can also download the firmware archive for your platform and unpack it into a directory named firmware in the root of a removable storage device (USB/CD drive). You can find firmware downloads for your Debian version at When the installer starts, it will automatically find the firmware files in the directory on the removable storage and, if needed, install the required firmware.

In some cases, firmware supplied on removable media may not be detected automatically (e.g. 740503). In these situations, drop to the console (Ctrl+alt+F2) and manually mount(8) your removable storage on a temporary directory (e.g. /media).

Firmware on removable media and preseeding

It is also possible to bypass the installer's searching and installation process by preseeding and providing the firmware files directly to the kernel:

preseed/early_command="modprobe vfat ; sleep 2 ;
mount /dev/disk/by-label/FIRMWARE /media ;
cp -a /media/firmware /lib"

Once the network is configured, Debian-Installer can fetch firmware from Debian repositories.

Firmware after installation

The isenkram and other tools can prompt to install the appropriate firmware and other hardware support packages when the hardware is plugged in. This mostly relies on packages declaring via AppStream what hardware they support. This might not work for all firmware, so read on for another solution.

If you still see missing firmware console messages when the initramfs is updated (for example whenever a kernel update is applied):

W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/i915/skl_guc_62.0.0.bin for module i915

Then you can use apt-file or the Debian package contents search to look for the package that contains the firmware files, install it and then update the initramfs:

$ apt-file search skl_guc_62.0.0.bin
firmware-misc-nonfree: /lib/firmware/i915/skl_guc_62.0.0.bin
$ sudo apt install firmware-misc-nonfree
$ sudo update-initramfs -c -k all

Firmware missing from Debian

If the missing firmware is not available in Debian or if you still see missing firmware console messages even when you have the right firmware-* package installed, you can download and install the firmware from the linux-firmware repository, e.g. for i915 firmware:

mkdir firmware
cd firmware
wget -r -nd -e robots=no -A '*.bin' --accept-regex '/plain/'
sudo mv *.bin /lib/firmware/i915/
sudo update-initramfs -c -k all

Location of firmware files

Debian 8 "Jessie" and newer

udev used in Debian Jessie and later, only checks one directory for firmware files: /lib/firmware. See 729252 for details.

Debian 7 "Wheezy", Debian 6.0 "Squeeze"

Firmware is sourced from the following places (see udev's /lib/udev/hotplug.functions and /lib/udev/firmware.agent)

  1. /lib/firmware/$(uname -r) - Firmware provided by a package, specific for a kernel.

  2. /lib/firmware/ - Firmware provided by a package, valid for all kernels.

  3. /usr/local/lib/firmware - Location for manually installed firmware.

  4. /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware - Firmware provided by a package, valid for all kernels

List of firmware in Debian

To find which package provides a given firmware file, you can use this search page:

Firmware/List lists firmware distributed by Debian.

Computer Firmware


Found on most modern x86 PCs and servers, along with some ARM boards - (wikipedia)


Found on older "IBM-PC" machines, generally most regular PCs and servers that were manufactured before 2011 - (wikipedia)


also known as OpenBoot, Found on Sun SPARC systems, IBM Power, PowerPC-based Apple Macintosh, IEEE 1275-1994... (wikipedia)

Coreboot (LinuxBIOS)

Can be used on some boards and tested under emulators - (wikipedia)


Found on the Lemote Yeeloong and embedded devices

Updating firmware

Firmware can be updated using various methods.

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