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Re: Social Contract: Practical Implications

On Fri, May 07, 2004 at 09:35:26AM -0700, Marc Singer wrote:
> 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.

That's what I thought. so, practically speaking, if specifications are
not complete, one could see performance degradation in the loss of
features or, as stated below complete certain hardware could be
completely unusable. For me, that would constitute degradation of
performance. These are exactly the sorts of losses that many users will
consider unacceptable because there are other linux distributions that
will meet their needs.

Thanks for your response,

Art Edwards
> > 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.
> Cheers.

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