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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

> I'm just saying that by a practical point of view who thinks so is
> pretending that hardware is free too. Your point of view is that firmware
> is software. Ok, that's also true for all the hardware you are using. I'm
> not so sure that any GPL program can be used along with a program
> (hardware) that is not available in its preferred form of modification,
> not freely distributable, and so on.

Debian does not distribute hardware so it's a moot point.  I believe it
_is_ possible to run a program on "free" (IP-wise) hardware.  Go out and
google "Sparc Leon VHDL".  Now all you need all you need to do is
synthesize one of these guys (you might need some non-free tools to do this
step) and have it fabbed (this will cost some money), but now you have a
processor who's IP is free.

If you don't like the idea of using non-free synthesis tools, then how
about googling for "asynchronous ARM balsa" or something like that.  I
believe most of that tool-chain is going to be free, if not all.  

If even that is too much for you, go out and get "magic" and do a physical
layout of one of the supported architectures the old-fashioned way and fab
it.  For all I know, such a layout already exists for 68k or one of the
older architectures.

How about I print out a hex listing of some simple program and I execute it
manually on a sheet of paper.  Does that count as free?

Should the whole distribution be in "contrib" because the software that
runs most power plants is non-free?  I don't think so, even if you argue
that there is a "dependency" there.  I think that software that Debian
distributes in contrib _directly requires_ non-free software to run.  The
moment that a free JVM appears then Java packages can move into main, even
if I prefer to use Sun's JVM myself.

> I see no difference between microcode loaded on CPU (just as an example)
> and that loaded by the kernel to have hardware working. Really no
> difference. And what are you saying only renforce this ill
> interpretation.

So you're saying that there is not a single CPU that a debian package can
run on that does not incorporate microcode?  That seems unlikely to me,
many of the more RISCy CPUs of the early 90s were totally hard-wired.  The
existence of 1 of these would negate your argument, in my mind, unless you
want to start getting more and more abstract.  (Like my power plant
argument above.)

BTW, I think it would be very very cool to have a completely free hardware
platform.  I work on free EDA/CAD tools, so hopefully in some small way I
am contributing to this goal.  But to argue that software cannot be truly
free without a free hardware platform; I'm not buying that one, despite
fully understanding your argument.

Take care,
Dale E. Martin, Clifton Labs, Inc.
Senior Computer Engineer
pgp key available

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