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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

Nathanael Nerode writes:

> Michael Poole wrote:
>>  Who is
>> helped when there is no public specification?
> Helped by what?  Clearly the lack of a public specification is a problem,
> which should be rectified by the creation of public specifications.
> However, having source for firmware which runs on unspecced hardware, and
> being allowed to modify it, is a great help to those reverse-engineering
> the spec, as well as those fixing bugs in it.  Is that the sort of example
> you're thinking of?  Or did you mean something completely different? 
> *looks puzzled*

Suppose you have a program licensed under free terms that participates
in a dialogue (with hardware, another program, or whatever) in an
unspecified form.  There is little point in being able to modify the
program because you cannot be sure -- without considerable reverse
engineering and testing -- that you comply with the specification.
You cannot use previously unimplemented functions of the protocol
without the specification, because you will not know they exist.

I am thinking mostly of device drivers, not of firmware.
Specifically, some drivers in the Linux kernel were written using
specifications that cannot be distributed or even completely described
due to NDAs.  Other drivers could be provided by the company without
any further documentation.


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