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Re: [DRAFT] resolving DFSG violations

On Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 10:33:27PM +0100, Michelle Konzack wrote:
> Am 2008-10-28 02:45:31, schrieb Thadeu Lima de Souza Cascardo:
> > If it's not clear by now, people are not arguing that hardware should
> > not be used if it is not free hardware (either it is feasible or not to
> > distribute or exist source code). The matter is whether source for code
> > that will not execute in the main CPU is needed for those codes in the
> > main section. So, your point that it is not x86 code is moot in the case
> > "firmware" is considered to be the same as other software in Debian. If
> > source code isn't available or "possible" for the chip carries the same
> > requirements for DFSG as the case would be for the x86 code, in the case
> > "firmware" should still follow DFSG.
> Anw what do you do with sourcode, for which there is not even a compiler
> availlable under Linux/BSD?  And you HAV to buy a  8000 US$  development
> suit from the chip manufacturer to build the firmware?

If the source code is not "human-readable", but it is free/libre, I
would study it in the case I consider the chance there is a bug.
Perhaps, if it was of my interest, I would even study the possibility of
reverse-engineering it, so it could be more "human-readable" and provide
tools to "build" it.

> I have such software and EVEN me can not read the firmware.
> I have ONLY a "project" in my IDE and it produce the firmware.
> And now you!

I consider that a problem with the tool you use. It has a major defect
("by design"): it is not free/libre. So you cannot modify your IDE to
give you any more "human-readable" format or something else.

> > Even machine readable form would still be considered source if its
> > interpretation by the machine could be presented to someone to make
> > modifications to it. If it is not modifiable for some reason and every
> > design should be done from scratch, perhaps there is a problem with the
> > tools and/or processes used.
> Do you have already tried to modify a binary blob or simply opened a (no
> mather which) binary from /bin/ in a HEX editor and tried to modify  it?

In my /bin/ directory? If I had to really modify it, why would I use a
hex-editor if I have source code in C?

However, I have programmed a microcontroller using a text editor and
hexadecimal numbers, even had to recode some constants present in code
because I had to add a single instruction in the middle of it. Until I
stopped being too lazy to code a simple assembler.

> > > Even the chip manufacturers don't know what they are. It's totally
> > > machine generated chip garbage as far as they are concerned. Once you
> > 
> > Which machines do generate this "garbage"? Do they do it all by
> > themselves? Are there machines designing new hardware now without human
> > intervention? Or are those chips magically enhanced so they could make
> > some sense of any random bitstream and there is no real mistery in
> > generating this "garbage"?
> The software/IDE use "projects" which are not in human readable form...
> ...and if you have finisched, you  klick  the  button  "Output firmware"
> and then you have the firmware blob.

Again, this is a issue with your IDE. It could certainly be modified to
output some more "human-readable" format that represents its internal
representation of the "project"... if only it were free/libre.

> > If the manufacturers are unaware of it, I doubt the designer is unaware
> > of it.
> ???
> It seems you have never designed Hardware or realy coded software for it

Does writing a microprocessor in Verilog count as designing hardware?

> Thanks, Greetings and nice Day/Evening
>     Michelle Konzack

Anyway, this is about the DFSG and the requirement of distributing
source code. I would really like that the requirement for distributing
the needed tools to build and modify this source code was in DFSG too.
Unfortunately, they are not. Fortunately, many packages that
Build-Depends on packages on non-free are in contrib. I hope that will
be the case too for any "firmware".

So, it doesn't matter if the preferred form of modification (by the way,
do you open on your IDE your output "firmware" or your "project"?) is
"human-readable" or not. It is, in anyway, required by DFSG. If it is
the same as the "binary" distributed, the other DSFG requirementes still


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