Re: non-free firmware: driver in main or contrib?
Matthew Garrett <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> Brian Thomas Sniffen <email@example.com> wrote:
>> Marco, it seems to me that there's a parallel case to non-free
>> firmware: dongleware. Perhaps you could explain how this philosophy
>> applies to that. If a piece of software is distributed under the GPL,
>> can I add functionality by putting it into firmware on a dongle and
>> having GCC call that?
> It would obviously be insane to consider that free, since you'd
> obviously only be doing it in order to circumvent GPL requirements. On
> the other hand, holding the same standards in driver-land would be
> equally ridiculous - people use firmware because that's the way it's
> always been, not because they're trying to screw us over.
OK, it would be GPL-incompatible. Would it be free?
> There are drivers we ship that require you to have a specific version of
> the firmware in eeprom. In at least one case, it's not possible to
> provide this without the user returning the card so that extra flash can
> be attached. Would you class this as dongleware or acceptable behaviour?
I don't think dongleware like that is free -- if I could remove the
dongle and the software which checks for it and still have the same
functionality, then it's free.
I think that requiring a hardware upgrade to support behavior is
irrelevant to free software. Firmware that's part of the hardware is
part of the hardware. Firmware that looks like software is software.
If Debian *could* ship it, it's software. Stuff requiring
3d-acceleration, or the -686 kernels, are all free.
Brian Sniffen firstname.lastname@example.org