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Re: DFSG violations in Lenny: Summarizing the choices

On Sat, Nov 08, 2008 at 05:05:50PM -0800, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> But now we have this claim that the FCC's well-understood rule about
> hardware does not apply to software: that software modifications *are*
> traceable back to the manufacturer, even though hardware modifications
> are not.  Oddly, however, in all these conversations, we've never seen
> any indication that this is really the FCC's policy.

The analogy that has been made is between hardware modifications
assisted by information about how a jumper or removing a trace is
"leaked" by a manufacturer *is* traceable back to the manfacturer, and
a manufacturer documenting their hardware (or releasing firmware
source) thus enabling someone to modify said firmware.  In both cases,
the manufacturer is assisting by making the information available.  In
the former case, it was via nth generation fax/xerox copies that was
passed under the table by retailers, but it was still held to be the
manufacturers problem.

So if people think that they are going to be able to get firmware in
source form so that popular wireless chips can be driven using 100%
DFSG pure firmware, I suspect they will have a very long wait ahead of
them.  The issue is that software controlled radios are cheaper, and
that drives the mass market, so that will be what most manufacturers
will use.

> And none of this is really relevent: the DFSG and the Social Contract do
> not contain an exception for dishonest or scared hardware manufacturers,
> or stupid FCC policies.

Neither does it (currently) contain an exception for debian.org
machines, or very popular Dell machines with Broadcom ethernet
firmware.  Great!  Cut them off!!  Let's see how quickly we can get
users moving to non-official kernels and installers when the official
ones don't work for them.  Then we can stop fighting about it.  The
DFSG hard liners can go on using the DFSG free kernels, and everyone
else can either move to another distribution or use an unofficially
forked kernel package and installer.

						- Ted

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