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Re: firmware status for eagle-usb-*

"Marco d'Itri" <md@Linux.IT> writes:

> glenn@zewt.org wrote:
>>On Fri, Oct 29, 2004 at 11:07:14AM +0200, Marco d'Itri wrote:
>>> >Hardware is not part of Debian, and the fact that Debian depends on
>>> >non-free pieces of hardware has never been considered to violate any of
>>> >the above.  (And, as I've said a few times, stuff tucked away in an
>>> >EPROM acts like part of the hardware.)
>>> And every time you failed to explain why software magically is not
>>> software anymore when stored on a flash EPROM.
>>By that logic, the same piece of data stored on an involatile ROM (that
>>the driver can't upload at all) is also to be considered software.  It's
>>non-free and we require it--I guess we should just give up!
> Yes, sure! If some stream of bits is considered software when stored in
> RAM then I can't see why it should not be software anymore when stored
> in some other media. I have not seen any convincing argument about why
> software should lose its nature if stored in ROM.
> If the conseguences of this are that some interpretations of the policy
> or social contract are inconsistent then maybe you should start
> considering that they may really be, after all.

How about when they're stored on paper?

How about when they're burned into a different sort of persistent
chip, like an FPGA?

How about CAD/CAM instructions, once embodied in a manufactured
device?  Is my coffee mug still software?

>>Looks like hardware, acts like hardware.
> To me, it looks like software stored in hardware.
>>Of course, it's a boundary case--it's neither strictly hardware nor software.
> Really? I think it's quite clear.

That's because you're not thinking about all the ramifications.

>>That's where the word "firmware" comes from in the first place, and that's
>>why there's disagreement on it--for things which are unambiguously hardware
>>(my printer) and things which are unambiguously software (/bin/ls), we
>>have clear boundaries, but for things which are neither hardware nor
>>software and yet both at the same time, things aren't so clear.
> I'm sorry, but the policy revisionists forced Debian to think that there
> is only software and they have been very clear about this.

No, actually.  I was an active participant in those debates here, and
you're completely misrepresenting both the wording and intention of
those revisions.


Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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