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Re: On the freeness of a BLOB-containing driver

Bruce Perens <bruce@perens.com> wrote:

> Certainly there are AVR and ARM chips that do glue-less downloading from 
> serial FLASH chips at boot time. Atmel sells them, among others. 
> Reprogramming of the FLASH is done via JPEG and not under the embedded 
> processor's control.

Bruce, as far as I can tell, you're claiming that it's better for
vendors to put code in flash because that way Debian doesn't have to
worry about the non-freeness of it. While I can see ways in which that
is true, I don't believe it /should/ be true. Non-free code in flash is
no more or less a problem than non-free code on disk. 

We shouldn't be encouraging manufacturers to make their products more
expensive by putting it in flash - we should be encouraging
manufacturers to open the specifications so we can implement free
versions, or encouraging them to open the firmware in its entirity. One
of these choices does nothing to advance freedom. The other does. If
anything, we should be happy that manufacturers /are/ starting to move
away from flash - it makes it clearer that there's a freedom issue that
we're not at liberty to ignore.

Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.devel@srcf.ucam.org

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