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Re: firmware status for eagle-usb-*

On Tue, 19 Oct 2004, Loïc Minier wrote:
> Josh Triplett <josh.trip@verizon.net> - Mon, Oct 18, 2004:
> > This argument has been made before, and the clear consensus is
> > that firmware is software; this is even clearer than the situation
> > over documents and other "data", which were also decided (on a
> > project-wide basis) to be software.
>  I'm interested, would you please provide some pointers on those
>  discussions?

No sourcecode bits:

In the context of DSP Binaries:

And the incredibly gargantuan keep non-free proposal thread:

And finally:
http://www.debian.org/vote/2004/vote_003 and

> > My question to you is this: does the author of the firmware edit the
> > binary directly, or do they have some other format?  If the latter, it
> > shouldn't be in Debian main, and if it is GPLed, we can't legally
> > distribute it at all.
> Once again, I think Debian won't be building or running the program
> that is hidden in the binary blob.  I don't see how that relates to
> the program included in Debian.

     DFSG §2: The program must include source code, and must allow
     distribution in source code as well as compiled form.

> No I'm saying that if the modem would work without the need to send
> a firmware first, or if you could send a firmware if you wish but
> that is not mandatory, then nobody would complain about the abscence
> of the sources of a program that runs on the modem.

We would complain, because such a binary would violate DFSG 2. In a
case like this, you can simply not distribute the binary firmware if
you wish to distribute everything in main.

> I am comparing the usefulness of the source code of firmware:
> suddenly, when the firmware has not a permanent storage on the
> device, its source needs to be GPL too!

The question is, is (GPLed code + firmware) a derived work of the
GPLed code, and not a mere aggregation. If it is a derived work, then
the firmware must be GPL compatible.

> Most recent computers have flashable BIOSes, or flashable VGA card
> BIOSes, and nobody went asking for the source of these programs.
> Nobody is interested in modifying the source of such programs, and
> if they were, _this_ would be a project on its own.

You're conflating things without source on their own with things
without source that are part of a worked derived from a GPLed
work. They are two totally separate things. [Of course, neither of
them is distributable in main anyway.]

Don Armstrong

It seems intuitively obvious to me, which means that it might be wrong
 -- Chris Torek

http://www.donarmstrong.com http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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