[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

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

Sven Luther <sven.luther@wanadoo.fr> writes:

> Let's say i have a wireless chip, which includes a pci interface which can be
> either host or device, a wireless interface to some antenas, an arm core, some
> ram and flash.
> [explanations snipped]
> This is not a 100% real example, since i am not aware of a wireless chip with
> a real pci interface, they usually come with some gpios, usb, or some kind of
> serial interface, ....

and below:

> Other examples are SATA or SCSI HW RAID device, like the AMCC/3WARE one, which
> include a IO-processor which is in turn a powerpc 40x or 44x based core, which
> you could turn into a standalone device all by itself. Or other HW RAID card
> which use some kind of service processor from intel.

I'm not sure if its clear, but I think this discussion is about device
firmware for hardware which (given existance) can be used in multiple
operational modes. Honestly, I find this rather hypothetic (maybe quite
academic) and I don't feel that this is what Steve is talking
about. Perhaps to wording can be fixed for that.

The 2nd example you give is a bit different and hits way better what
Steve had in mind: These peripherials (well, better controllers for
peripherials but I don't think this matters here) are using non-free
software (device firmware) which is in turn used by free software, like
a debian operating system. I don't think that anyone here seriously
doesn't consider this as what we commongly call ``program''. The
relevant part is this:

>>        4. determines that for the purposes of DFSG #2, device
>> firmware shall also not be considered a program.

I as non native speaker understand that as this: "We of course consider
device firmware as programs in general. It is just that for some
hardware devices, additional non-free software is needed so that our
free software (both applications and device drivers) can be used on this
kind of hardware. As we want to serve both of our users and spreading
beautiful and usable free software, for some cases [1] we accept that
our free software is using some non-free programs on our
(peripherial/controlling) devices. For these hardware devices, we
support our users and the free software movement by providing them the
needed ``device firmware''. We therefore make the clarification that for
the purposes of DFSG #2 we special case ``device firmware'' so that for
this specific issue, ``device firmware'' is not considered as a

There are some variations on this which set a limit "until we have
better infrastructure to separate non-free ``device firmware'' from the
kernel and the installer.

Please note that I'm not really decided on this matter. This mail may
sound biased. If it is, I'm sorry. I really don't know yet what I would
vote (if I was allowed to vote, of course). In fact, I'd love to see
some better rationale for the quoted point (#4) of the proposed amendment.

[1] the case that there we don't have free access to the sources of the
``device firmware''

Reinhard Tartler, KeyID 945348A4

Reply to: