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Re: on firmware (possible proposal)

[Johannes Wiedersich]
> I would propose to create a new section of the archive, called
> 'sourceless' or such.  Stuff within this archive doesn't have full
> sources. It is legally distributable and follows the DFSG with the
> only exception of missing sources. On top of the DFSG it is required
> that software in 'sourceless' _must not be executed_ on the host CPU.
> 'sourcless' therfore applies to firmware as well as eg. documentation
> pdfs or images without source.

You know what, I think this distinction about "running on the host CPU"
is rather silly, and I'm starting to believe it is entirely artificial.
By this I mean that the distinction itself would not matter, except
that it sounds a little better than just saying firmware is necessary
enough to compromise our principles on, but the Flash plugin is not.

But really, is there a principle of software freedom that distinguishes
device firmware from, say, a seti@home client using an NVidia GPU for
compute cycles?  What about the ability to install a whole OS on a
router - if you plug the router into the PC with a USB cable, could you
consider the router to be "not the host CPU"?  The other day we were
told d-i RC1 now supports certain NAS devices.  Would those be "hosts"
or merely "devices" or "appliances"?  What about proprietary
abandonware console game ROMs?  Those can run in an emulator but
they're intended for real hardware that isn't "the host CPU".  Someone
also mentioned Postscript, roughly the same situation.

Good thing Z80 daughterboards to run CP/M applications are no longer
Peter Samuelson | org-tld!p12n!peter | http://p12n.org/

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