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Re: Solving the linux-2.6 firmware issue

On 01/06/07 10:13, Marco d'Itri wrote:
> In linux.debian.devel.release Marc Haber <mh+debian-kernel@zugschlus.de> wrote:
>> So keyspan USB devices will be useless with Debian kernels in the very
>> near future, since there is no alternative to the kernel driver?
> Looks so. But we will have the most free kernel of all Linux
> distributions, aren't you happy?

No, this is misleading. Almost all add on computer products have on
chip proprietary firmware. All this does is reward the manufacturers
that hide the firmware on-chip. Worse, this often means that the least
expensive products (and often purchased) will not work with Debian.

I've not seen conclusive evidence that the keyspan firmware file is
not the best effort of freeness. Lots of firmware is generated by the
board designers and hardware engineers using bizarre software for
which source code doesn't exist. We need to educate the free software
world to this reality and not remove support for the few devices that
we are actually able to be able to figure out how to get work.
Sometimes there are gray areas -- and that will continue to be the case.

It's arguable that the keyspan device is _more_ free than the other
usb devices. We can actually see what would otherwise be hidden on a
chip inside the device.

Starting a trend like this is not beneficial to the free software
movement. We first need to get manufacturers to NOT hide the
proprietary pieces in the hardware. This means binary firmware files.
It's either we pull them out or hide them inside like is done today.

Happy hacking,

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