[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: LCC and blobs

Martin Waitz <tali@admingilde.org> writes:

> I have a PCMCIA card that lost its flash memory.
> So suddenly its driver became non-free?

No; the hardware is damaged.  No driver can drive that.  The driver
you have is a driver for Foomatic Quxer cards.  You don't have a
Foomatix Quxer; you have a broken pile of junk.

> What about all those drivers for hardware that I don't own?
> They don't work for me, yet I won't flag them as non-free.
> We must not consider hardware when talking about free software.
> Sending firmware to the device is not that different to sending some
> magic initialization commands. Firmware should be treated as exactly
> that: magic initialization data for the device.

Exactly.  And so we should require it to be free.  Certainly, if some 
card required a long magic initialization sequence, but its licence
prohibited distribution or modification of that sequence, we would not
consider it free.  The initialization sequence in these cases is long
enough to be covered by copyrights.  It's clearly software, and the
driver clearly has a dependency on it.  So either we should compromise
our principles and ship the drivers without a reasonable expectation
that anyone with the device will have the firmware, or else we should
compromise utility and not ship with dependencies on non-free

Since in the case of firmware on disk we can't reliably get the
firmware to users *anyway*, utility's not atainable and we should keep
our principles of freedom.

Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

Reply to: