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Re: firmware or software? was Re: ITP plex86, if it complies to DFSG

On Tue, Dec 12, 2000 at 08:31:54AM +1100, Hamish Moffatt wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 11, 2000 at 12:44:07PM -0800, ferret@phonewave.net wrote:
> > So, if we take the Creative DXr2 DVD decoder board, for a working example:
> > The player, utilities, and kernel driver are released under the GPL
> > version 2. Unfortunately, to make the board actually work, we have to
> > upload a file using the supplied tool to the board. is this file firmware
> > or software?
> That's firmware. I would define firmware as anything which is not
> running on the host CPU. Therefore, the VGA BIOS is not firmware.
> > What if I write a program that emulates the DXr2 board on my host CPU? Is
> > the upload file firmware or software now? And if it is different than when
> > it gets uploaded to the board, why?
> You are executing the software now on your PC. This is no different
> to emulating old micro systems (vice, xspectemu, x48). So whatever
> the rule is for those systems should apply to your DXr2 emulator.

what is then BIOS you bought with your computer? Firmware?
(remember, your PC would not boot without it, and although 
in some cases you can change it, it is just a recent innovation)
Ok, and what if your CPU is Crusoe, which is _emulating_
the i386 instructions?

This is a grey area.

> It appears that xspectemu and x48 are both in main. apple2
> is in contrib. Pose (Palm OS emulator) is in contrib. simh
> (old DEC computer emulator) is in non-free. xcopilot (Palm)
> is in contrib. uae (Amiga) is in contrib. stella (Atari 2600)
> is in non-free. nestra is in contrib (ROMs not included).
> xmame is non non-free (ROMs not included). xzx is in non-free.
> xtrs is in contrib (ROMs not included). ines is in non-free.
> snes9x-svga is in non-free. atari800 is in contrib. 
> There ARE ROMs in the distribution for simh (simh-unix-images,
> simh-rsts-images), both in non-free. Unfortunately this is
> not a good example because simh itself does not allow
> commercial use, so it's in non-free anyway.
> So most of these seem to be outside of main, because you need
> non-free ROMs. x48 does not seem to belong in main since there
> are no free ROMs for it (actually, no freely available ROMs
> at all). 
> If one of these emulators is free and has freely
> available ROMs, I wonder which section it's in? I don't have
> time to check them all at the moment.

Amstrad (which holds copyright to Sinclair ROMs) has given 
explicit permission to use, distribute and modify the ROMs
without any restrictions, as long as the original (c)opyright
messages are not altered - this sounds totally free to me.
(see http://www.deja.com/getdoc.xp?AN=519280772). So 
xspectemu is rightfully in main, xzx is in non-free because
it is shareware.

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