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

On Mon, Aug 28, 2006 at 03:25:05PM -0700, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> Sven Luther <sven.luther@wanadoo.fr> writes:
> > The idea is that the firmware is all the software and other softwarish
> > information which the vendor provides to make use of the board he sells you.
> I see.  If I buy a standard-issue Dell computer, then Windows is
> firmware, right?  (Dell does provide it, for the purpose of making
> full use of the computer.)

The BIOS is, not windows, since it is coming from a third party, namely
microsoft, and furthermore, the drivers are also not it.

It depends. Like said, the NLSU considers all the linux+userland as firmware.

> > He has full control of it, in the sense that it is often binary
> > only, and that he produces it, and not some third party (like the
> > operating system vendor).  Also, i believe that modifying the
> > firmware, like you propose, usually voids the waranty.
> Oh, so because the OEM can't modify Windows it's not firmware.  But if
> I buy a Dell PC that comes with Red Hat installed, it *is* something
> Dell can modify, so then it is firmware?

The firmware comes from the original hardware manufacturer, so not dell, but
whoever builds boards for dell. That is the link, it is the same guys who do
the hardware, and provide the most basic support, often as closed source, to
the OEM or whoever else may use it.

> >   all software support part that comes from the hardware vendor, to enable or
> >   drive or whatever the hardware he sells you, and which is not part of the
> >   operating system.
> Um, this is not a definition.  The whole point of a definition is to
> describe what is "firmware" and what is the "operating system".  When
> I suggest that there is no good principled definition, you can't
> counter by definining firmware as essentially "whatever is not part of
> the operating system."


> Pretend I don't have any idea what this word "firmware" is or
> "operating system".  I'm familiar with programming and all that, just
> not with these words.  Can you explain the distinction in a
> noncircular way?

Like said, it is all the hardware enablement software that is provided by the
original hardware manufacturer as part of the hardware bundle.


Sven Luther

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