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Re: non-free firmware: driver in main or contrib?

On Mon, 25 Oct 2004, Josh Triplett wrote:
> However, suppose that your statement were true.  Why stop there?
> Consider the case of a piece of hardware which could not be initialized
> correctly except by the Windows driver.  In order for the device to
> work, a user would need to boot up Windows, allow the driver to
> initialize the device, and soft-boot into GNU/Linux, at which point the
> driver could control the device.  Also suppose that the Windows driver
> was shipped on the manufacturer's CD, so the user already has it (which
> is almost always the case).  Repeat after me: "Drivers don't require
> initialization, hardware devices require initialization". :)  So why
> can't this driver go in main too?

I would disqualify that driver from main not because it depended on a
Windows driver, but because it depended on having Windows itself.  Unlike the
hardware/eprom and hardware/CD combinations, hardware/Windows isn't sold
together and the user would have to get Windows separately--not because he
lost a CD that he once had, but because Windows really is a separate item in
more ways than just physically being on a different disk.

> For another example, suppose there were a new, proprietary 3D graphics
> interface, ClosedGL, only implemented by ATI's and nVidia's proprietary
> driver.  Suppose someone wanted to package a game that used ClosedGL.
> Repeat after me: "Programs don't require drivers, hardware devices
> require drivers (to provide APIs)". :)  So by your arguments, why can't
> this game go in main?

You may as well claim that a hard drive is a "piece of hardware which does
word processing", that a word processor is a driver for this piece of hardware,
and that without this driver you lose some functionality because the hard
drive won't process words.

The flaw in this reasoning is that a hard drive or a graphics card is a
general purpose piece of equipment.  The "driver" isn't a driver.

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