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Bug#502959: general: raff.debian.org uses non-free software

On Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 01:30:42PM +0200, Romain Beauxis wrote:
> Agreed, though it does not restrain us from asking for free firmware.
> If I recall well, one of the origin of the GNU fondation was the fact that 
> having free drivers alowed one to actually *fix* issues he may have with his 
> *own* hardware. Then, the very same reasoning can apply to binary firmware.

Having driver source code lets you fix the drivers and port htem to
other operating systems and architectures.  Having firmware source makes
no difference to that problem as long as the firmware is working.  If it
isn't working, you would probably know soon enough and return the
defective hardware.

> So, yes this is a brand new issue, that comes from the new way of designing 
> hardware. But that doesn't mean we should give up and remain behind the line 
> that was drawn 20 (or so) years ago. We now should also ask for open source 
> firmware for the very same reason that this huge effort toward free drivers 
> was done. If we did it for drivers, there's no reason we can't suceed for 
> firmwares.

Except the firmware is just a way to implement the board logic and has
nothing to do with deciding which system you can use the hardware in.
The drivers do control which system you can use the hardware with.

Free open firmware is a nice goal, but a significantly less important
one than open drivers (or at least specifications) to allow you to
choose your OS and software to use that hardware with.

Len Sorensen

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