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Re: [DRAFT] resolving DFSG violations

On Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 11:35, Lennart Sorensen
<lsorense@csclub.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 06:38:53PM -0700, Jeff Carr wrote:
>> Because that's how the hardware works. If you are making a widget and
>> you need a fpga or hybrid chip of any sort, then you generate a binary
>> blob using the chip manufacturers tools.
> But you provide input to the tool, usually VHDL code or similar.  That
> would be the source, and you can provide that.  That is the prefered
> format for editing.  We use plenty of FPGAs at work, and I have seen how
> they are programmed, and yes I have seen what the source looks like.  It
> is certainly human readable source code.  If you think otherwise, then
> you don't know how FPGAs and CPLDs work.

True, I certainly feel like that at times with the opencores project
I've been trying to maintain.

On the other hand, I sure know that I know a pile more than you do or
we wouldn't be having this discussion :)

> The tool doesn't have a magic buttong labeled 'make the chip do what I
> am thinking of now".
>> So, no matter how good you intend on being, how much you love free
>> software, you don't have any choice. Again, this is ironic since
>> things like the opencores project are the most free hardware of all
>> and are not given credit for it in this thread.
> And opencores.org distributes source, not binary blobs.  Gee whiz.

Yes Gee whiz. You're not getting it. The firmware is a binary blob.
You can distribute the source but you can't synthesize it. So, in the
debian installer, you can't include it according to this insane

But the opencore case is the easy case, hybrid chips don't even have
source. The firmware blob is often generated when you fabricate the
chip & changes with the physical board layout. You guys just don't
understand the issues here. There isn't some nafarious intent; you
have little flash chips holding these bits all over in your machine
now. You just don't know it. And now, because someone is giving you
the luxury of actually loading them via software (with gpl software no
less) you seem to be all ticked off. You seem to want to stick your
head in the sand and pretend this doesn't exist.

And no, it's not about telling users "This is all free". That's a lie
at this level anyway. None of it is free. Whether you load it from
/lib/firmware/ or if it's already stored on your motherboard doesn't
change anything. It just makes us Debian look ridiculous. The message
should be: "There are some firmware blobs for some hardware that there
is no known way to generate code for, nor any way to compile such code
if we had it or any way to figure out how we would write a compiler
for it either. This firmware is also hidden in flash for most of the
chips on your machine. Some modern devices let the OS load this code
into the chip then we are able to write fully GPL drivers for the
device. Debian's focus is on free software; not free hardware designs
(although we love those too).

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