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Re: non-free firmware in kernel modules, aggregation and unclear copyright notice.

On Thu, Apr 07, 2005 at 09:03:01AM -0400, Richard B. Johnson wrote:
> On Thu, 7 Apr 2005, Humberto Massa wrote:
> >David Schmitt wrote:
> >
> >> On Thursday 07 April 2005 09:25, Jes Sorensen wrote:
> >>
> >>>[snip] I got it from Alteon under a written agreement stating I
> >>>could distribute the image under the GPL. Since the firmware is
> >>>simply data to Linux, hence keeping it under the GPL should be just
> >>>fine.
> >>
> >>
> >> Then I would like to exercise my right under the GPL to aquire the
> >> source code for the firmware (and the required compilers, starting
> >> with genfw.c which is mentioned in acenic_firmware.h) since - as far
> >> as I know - firmware is coded today in VHDL, C or some assembler and
> >> the days of hexcoding are long gone.
> >
> >First, there is *NOT* any requirement in the GPL at all that requires
> >making compilers available. Otherwise it would not be possible, for
> >instance, have a Visual Basic GPL'd application. And yes, it is possible.
> >
> >Second, up until the present day I have personal experience with
> >hardware producers that do not have enough money to buy expensive
> >toolchains and used a lot of hand-work to code hardware parameters. So,
> >at least for them, hand-hexcoding-days are still going.
> >
> >HTH,
> >
> >Massa
> Well it doesn't make any difference. If GPL has degenerated to
> where one can't upload microcode to a device as part of its
> initialization, without having the "source" that generated that
> microcode, we are in a lot of hurt. Intel isn't going to give their
> designs away.
> Last time I checked, GPL was about SOFTware, not FIRMware, and
> not MICROcode. If somebody has decided to rename FIRMware to
> SOFTware, then they need to complete the task and call it DORKware,
> named after themselves.

There is only two things, Hardware, which is stuff you can touch, and
software, which you can't and runs on it. 

Or can you really give any serious argumentation on why you would consider
firmware or microcode as something else as software ? I doubt a judge would
follow you on this, and in any case any computer language theorist will
strongly disagree with this. Stuff like FGPAs are on the threshold though, but
anything which is not physical hardware is software.

Dropping LKML, i hope that this is ok to all concerned.


Sven Luther

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