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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] The "Free" Kernel In Debian Squeeze

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] The "Free" Kernel In Debian Squeeze
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2011 17:11:55 -0500

    My reasonsing was that firmware filenames are static identifiers.  Even
    if we mangled them, they'd still be identifiers to the same files, and
    web pages would quickly pop up mapping the identifiers to the file
    names, so it seemed pointless to try to disguise the sources.

I agree those things might happen, but that doesn't make it pointless.

Remember, the goal is not to prevent people from finding these files.
If we sought to block their installation, this would thwart the effort.
But that is not our goal.  Our goal is to avoid steering users towards
nonfree software.  If they find these identifiers and look them up,
I think it will be clear to them that we are not.

    So I figured run-time mangling, that can vary not only from release to
    release, but also from build to build, even from session to session, was
    far more important.

What would it mean to change the translated name from session to session?
That would mean that the user has to reinstall the nonfree firmware again
in each session -- right?  Am I misunderstanding something?

You might as well "mangle" every name to `foobar'.

    By adding an interface to tell the kernel the list of currently
    available firmware files, we can get the kernel to refrain from asking
    for (non-Free?) firmware that's not installed, which could even obviate
    the need for identifier mangling.

This part I now understand, thanks to your explanations.

Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110

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