Re: non-free firmware: driver in main or contrib?
On Mon, 2004-10-25 at 07:07 -0400, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> Matthew Garrett <email@example.com> writes:
> > On the other hand, if it's clearly software when it's on CD then it's
> > clearly software when it's on eeprom.
> False. That's why we call it firmware, not just "software living on a device".
> It's an implementation detail of the hardware that they happen to have
> shipped a microprocessor and a hardwired program. If the program had
> been burned into a circuit in an FPGA, would you still call it
Brian, we are talking about identical code. Software doesn't stop being
software if it's burned into a ROM instead of being supplied with the
OS. An FPGA is a more interesting issue - would you define a set of
verilog code as software if it's supplied on disk?
> If it's a single-use PROM, is it still software?
If we would want the source code to it if we shipped the contents, then
yes, it's software.
> >From the point of view of the driver, the device is just a device. It
> gets... driven. That's it. No need to consider the things inside and
> force decisions about software or not onto them.
I want a world in which all code run on a system is free, no matter
whether that code is executed by the host processor or something on a
card. I see no reason for us to consider non-free software more
"legitimate" purely because it's on a chip rather than on a hard drive.
As a result, I consider all arguments that apply to code on hard drives
to apply equally well to code on chips.
> Anything the user's being told to copy to /usr/local/something, on the
> other hand, is clearly software.
You appear to be claiming that identical code is firmware if it's on a
chip and software if it's on a CD, and that we should apply different
standards to each situation. I'm claiming that it's always software, and
we should apply the same standards to it in all cases.
Matthew Garrett | firstname.lastname@example.org