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Re: Proposal: The DFSG do not require source code for data, including firmware

On Tue, Aug 29, 2006 at 03:07:11PM +0200, Sven Luther wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 29, 2006 at 11:00:44PM +1000, Hamish Moffatt wrote:
> > To those who consider ROM-less hardware cheap and nasty I suggest the
> > opposite is true. I design hardware (FPGAs) professionally for expensive 
> > communications equipment. We avoid ROMs as much as possible, because
> > they are difficult to upgrade reliably and they are a waste of money.
> > 
> > We deliberately load our FPGAs with different functionality at different
> > times and that isn't possible from ROM. The emi62.c sound driver seems
> > to do something similar - it loads different firmware for midi and spdif
> > modes!
> Very interesting.
> Do you consider FPGA config files as programs, or would you say that the
> normal DFSG requirement for source applies to those also in order to be
> considered fit for debian/main ? 

Aren't these two alternatives the same?

> I am interested in your profesional opinion on this, since you clearly seem to
> either be, or in close contact to someone who is, an upstream author of such
> firmwares.

In any case, they are not programs (there is no sequential operation, no
program counters etc) but data that gets loaded into memory circuits
(SRAM) inside the physical device.

However they do have source code (Verilog and VHDL are the relevant
languages). The hex dumps in the drivers are not only not the preferred
form, they are in fact useless for modification. The vendors don't even
publish the format of that information.

There are no free tools for rebuilding those images, though that isn't
an excuse in itself.

Hamish Moffatt VK3SB <hamish@debian.org> <hamish@cloud.net.au>

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