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Re: on firmware and freedoom

Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> wrote:
> Rather than contributing directly to the current discussion on what types
> of bitstreams we should or not not apply our definition of "Free Software"
> to, I thought I'd share my personal view on the reasons why would bother to
> ask for free firmware in the first place, and what message I think we would
> send if we cease demanding it.

"We can't depend for the long run on distinguishing one bitstream from 
another in order to figure out which rules apply." So says Eben Moglen, 
FSF's general counsel, in Free Software and the Death of Copyright 
http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_8/moglen/index.html (1999) 
(Amusingly, the article opens by giving the meaning of the word 
"software" but quickly moves to the "software"="programs" 
bitstream-distinguishing weakness which excuses the FDL.)

"The Linux sources themselves have an even more serious problem with 
non-free software: they actually contain some. Quite a few device 
drivers contain series of numbers that represent firmware programs to be 
installed in the device. These programs are not free software. A few 
numbers to be deposited into device registers are one thing; a 
substantial program in binary is another."  Richard M. Stallman writes 
in Linux, GNU, and freedom 
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/linux-gnu-freedom.html (2002?)

Hope that informs someone,
My Opinion Only: see http://people.debian.org/~mjr/
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