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Re: LCC and blobs

Peter Van Eynde <pvaneynd@mailworks.org> writes:

> Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
>> 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.
> So here you argue that because the firmware is gone the hardware is
> broken, correct?

No, I argue that because you've pried chips off the board, the
hardware is broken.

>> ...  It's clearly software, and the driver clearly has a dependency on it.
> And now you consider it software just because the method of storage is
> different? How can the nature of the bytes change because they are
> stored on a disk?

The nature of the bytes do not change.  But my name, distributed in a
Debian package, is software.  My name, written in letters of granite
thirty feet high, is not.  How can the nature of the data change?
Architectural plans for a house, shipped in a Debian package, are
software.  An actual house embodying those plans is not software.
But gosh, the nature changes!

> If the driver need to load the firmware or just needs to enable it is
> the same thing. Just think of the enable sequence as highly compressed
> firmware
> :-).

The simplest and most important difference is that we know anyone with
a functioning device has the on-chip firmware.  He often can't
redistribute the on-disk firmware to somebody else if he sells the
device, as its licence prohibits this.

> So the driver has a dependency on the firmware, even if it is in the
> device itself. So we have to move all drivers that use devices with
> build-in firmware to contrib.
> That or we see that the firmware is actually part of the hardware and
> that uploading is just a natural thing a driver should do.

Some firmware is part of the hardware.  Some isn't.  It's easy to tell
-- either it's in the hardware or it isn't.  Of course, the name
"firmware" should make it clear that this is an often ambiguous line.
But this does seem to be a good practical place: can anybody with the
device and the driver use it?  Or are there some people who even with
a functioning, complete device and a driver who can't get it to work?

> The fact that most firmware cannot be redistributed or does not come
> as source just selects what we can ship or have to ask the user to
> provide.
>> 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.
> I see no limitation of my freedom in using firmware. Please tell me
> how I am limited in my freedom. If I wanted a open source firmware I
> could buy a device with open firmware,

Then Windows isn't proprietary either.  Sigh.


Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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