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Re: Social Contract: Practical Implications

On Fri, May 07, 2004 at 09:22:30AM -0600, developer list wrote:
> Questions:
> 1. I was under the impression that firmware leads to better performance.
> Is this true?

Not really.  Traditionally, firmware is software that is stored in a
read-only medium.  It is used here to describe software that someone
releases without the source code and is, therefore, not compliant with
the DFSG.  Firmware in this case refers to the fact that it is
more difficult to change than software.

> 2. If 1. is true, then will removing the bits of firmware from the kernel 
> lead to degraded performance of, for example, graphics cards?

If there is a performance loss, it is most likely due to the fact that
a hardware vendor refuses to release the datasheet for a device.
Instead, they release their software in a binary format.  An
alternative solution might be slower because the programmer lacked
complete specifications.

> 3. Are there other features, besides firmware, whose performance will be
> effected adversely by the strict adherence to "free" envisioned by the
> social contract?

I wonder if, instead, this isn't about performance as much as
unavailability.  Some devices, lacking this 'firmware', are unusable.


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