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Re: more evil firmwares found

Riku Voipio wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 12, 2004 at 09:50:18PM -0400, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
>> >> May I repeat that all of the hardware on two different recent machines
>> >> in this house runs *without* requiring non-free firmware downloads?
>> (a) Nobody seems to be *listening*; they keep saying "Everyone will need
>> this firmware!".
>> (b) I didn't pick *any* of this stuff with an eye to avoiding non-free
>> firmware; it's a completely random sample.
>> (c) It's all fairly cheap.
>> Therefore, I think the people who keep saying "Most people will need this
>> firmware!" are smoking crack or something.
> Tell me, what 802.11g hardware do you use?
None at all.

> There is three harware chips
> available, one has a nvidia style driver, and other two firmwares.
Aw, how sad.

> And
> FCC excplictly forbids[1] distributing radio drivers in user-modifiable
> form.
This claim appears to be simply incorrect.  

I actually read this thing.  I assume you're referring to sections 30-32,

The FCC prohibits, at most, the combination of making & *installing*
modifications to radio drivers.  This does not in any way prohibit
distribution of drivers in user-modifiable form, particularly for the
purpose of making modifications which are *not* installed, or are used for
purposes quite unrelated to radio.  In fact, it explicitly permits
alternative software to be installed if you bother to get your own FCC
identification number (section 20) and the hardware allows for electronic

In reality, distributing without source doesn't have a serious practical
benefit from the point of view of "preventing unauthorized software
changes", which is the goal of sections 30-32 -- it's security through
obscurity.  :-P  Hardware-stored checksums of the downloaded firmware would
actually do the trick, but then the companies might as well put it in

> I still fail to see how a device that doesn't have persistent memory to
> store it's firmware is somehow so evil that we have excorcise support
> for those devices out of Linux...
It's not evil and we don't have to.  However, it's non-free and shouldn't be
distributed as part of the Debian distribution, if the Social Contract
isn't changed.  For some mystifying reason, people keep suggesting
distributing it as part of the Debian distribution.

> However, hardware that wastes
> enviroiment with an extra flash chip and/or has unmodifiable firmware
> is somehow more kosher and should be used instead.
It's also non-free and shouldn't be distributed as part of the Debian
distribution.  Is anyone suggesting doing so?  *looks around* No, nobody

> [1]

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