Re: Bug#239952: kernel-source-2.6.4: qla2xxx contains non-freefirmware
Scripsit Nathanael Nerode <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> (Incidentally, the more I hear about DSL, the more it sounds like it sucks
> big time. Cable modems just act like a nice black box which you plug an
> Ethernet cable into, and don't require *any* drivers for the OS, let alone
> firmware downloads from a host machine -- any firmware downloads come from
> the cable company. Why do DSL modems work differently?...)
xDSL modems do not *all* work differently. My DSL provider happily
sold me a little black box with a phone jack at one end and a row of
Ethernet connectors at the other. There's probably lots of non-free
firmware *inside* the thing, but it did not need any of it to be
*downloaded* to be before it could start working.
However, such a black box is somewhat more expensive than a modem as a
PCI or USB unit which needs a special driver (and, as shown in this
thread, often firmware downloads for which free options do not
currently exist). They are probably cheaper to manufacture when they
do not need to contain persistent memory for the connection parameters
and their own power supply.
It ought not to be difficult (neither in a technical or in a
economic/legal sense) for manufacturers to ship the standard firmware
as a separate file on the driver CD that usually accompanies such
hardware, and for the authors of free drivers to make the kernel look
for the firmware on the file system when the device is first accessed.
The driver could log an appropriate message during boot-up which
some appropriate package could inspect (during installation, or even
at each boot if so configured) and ask the user to insert the vendor's
driver CD in order to copy firmware from it.
However, this infrastructure is not *actually* going to be written
unless someone feels sufficently motivated to write it. And it seems
to me that at the moment such motivation can only come from Debian
sticking to its principles, since other distributors of kernels are
apparently quite happy to include such non-free firmware.
> OK, have I said the same thing enough times to make my point?
I would think so (and FWIW, I agree).
Henning Makholm "The Board views the endemic use of PowerPoint
briefing slides instead of technical papers as an
illustration of the problematic methods of technical communicaion at NASA."