While installing a new server, I noticed that Debian kicked the bnx2 firmware for the Broadcom NetXtreme II (like found in HP DL3xx and Dell PowerEdge servers), to non-free. The installer kindly asks to provide the firmware on an USB stick. That can be quite annoying. but if you install a new server, it's not such a big problem as you won't break any existing things.
Now I was wondering... what would happen if you upgrade an existing Etch system to Lenny? I did the test... While upgrading, you'll see a small warning while the initrd gets generated:
"W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/bnx2-09-4.0.5.fw for module bnx2"
If you miss or ignore that line, your server won't have any bnx2 network interfaces when booting the new kernel, till somebody boots the old kernel and and executes an apt-get install firmware-bnx2 from non-free... I'm glad I found that one before I started to upgrade my server in colo!
I'm a big Debian fan and it never let me down for servers, but personally, I think they made a big mistake here. If you do something that will certainly break a system, at least show the user a big warning please...