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Re: more evil firmwares found

Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> > I agree it would be benficial, but keep in mind such firmware will
> > likely be some commercial RTOS (with rather limited free alternatives),
> Yeesh.  Firmware is too complicated these days.  ;-)  Entire OSes?
> (At least there are *some* free RTOSes for embedded systems.)
> I guess this does underline my point that it's just software, and should be
> treated like any other software.

For the host OS it is still some blob of data, and not code.

> The fact that the hardware vendor has
> locked you into a binary-only OS is unfortunate.

The vendor is locked in himself, by OS/tool vendors and IP licensors.

> > or even the result of some VHDL tool.
> Well, there will soon be free VHDL tools.

"Soon" as in the next hurd release, and new amiga hardware, I guess.

Vendors won't risk their existence by depending on yet-to-be-written
and unproven toolchains without _very_ compelling reasons.

> > But detaching the firmware and handling it via the driver saves the
> > vendor
> > 
> > - a flash chip
> > - board space for it
> > - headaches about driver/firmware incompatibilities
> > - development and maintenance of some flash tool for N OSes
> > - myriads of support calls from clueless users
> > 
> > Furthermore, reconfigurable logic becomes more and more common, so the
> > overall use of firmware will increase, as well as pushing it into OS
> > drivers.
> In other words, everything is being done in software rather than hardware.  

That's the overall trend for a few decades now.

> Well, then you have to decide how much non-free software you want to use. 

Which would probably be the decision if you want to use your computer,
or if you want not.

> Which is just fine.  The Debian Project also has to decide how much it
> wants to distribute as part of the "Debian system".  Oh, wait... it already
> decided that when the Social Contract was passed.  The answer was "Debian
> will remain 100% Free Software", but that the 'non-free' area of the
> archive would be used to distribute non-free software.  Sounds great!  So
> why isn't that being done?...

Then we'll have kernel (at least 2.4) and installer in non-free, and a
subset of it also in main, and non-free needs then autobuilders and
timely security updates, too.

> > For Linux users this is btw. an improvement, as it saves them from
> > keeping around a different OS for flash updates.
> Yes.  And so's the NVIDIA binary-only accelerated video driver.

I wrote about a general trend, not about a random piece of hardware.


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