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Re: On the freeness of a BLOB-containing driver



On Sat, Dec 11, 2004 at 04:43:48PM -0800, Bruce Perens wrote:
[..]
> There are a number of reasons that a device's firmware won't generally 
> be opened to us:
> 
> 1. The manufacturer's concerns regarding the proprietary nature of 
> information about their device that is below the bus.
> 2. The fact that misprogramming the device at that level can damage the 
> hardware.
> 3. They aren't going to want to support more firmware versions than they 
> have to.

And 4. They're not allowed to by regulations, eg wireless hardware
whose firmware cannot be distributed by FCC rule.

[..]
> A good hardware design would put this code in FLASH on the board. If you 
[..]

I'm going to disagree (violently) here. FLASH costs money, which drives
up costs to consumers directly. Further, if you want to support firmware
upgrades, you need to find a VERY robust process else you have huge 
technical support and repair issues, not to mentioned unhappy customers.

I'm an EE working on industrial telecommunications equipment and I always 
argue for putting as little as possible in FLASH, so that we can upgrade 
it easily later. Avoid shipping non-upgradable components at all cost, 
because those components are rarely bug free upfront.

As a follow on, have you ever seen a PC motherboard whose BIOS can be
upgraded from linux? No, you have to find floppy disks or boot Windows.
Lack of FLASH firmware is definitely a convenience too.

Hamish
-- 
Hamish Moffatt VK3SB <hamish@debian.org> <hamish@cloud.net.au>



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