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Re: Free firmware - A redefinition of the term and a new metric for it's

From: Taylan Ulrich Bayırlı/Kammer
Subject: Re: Free firmware - A redefinition of the term and a new metric for it's measurement.
Date: Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:40:01 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1 (gnu/linux)

David Craven <address@hidden> writes:

> Solution:
> We need to encourage and allow option 1 as opposed to option 2.
> Hardware suggestions by the FSF should instead of focusing on a black
> and white - needs binary blobs or does not need binary blobs - focus
> on the following:
> 1. The firmware is freely redistributeable - allowing free software
> distributions to redistribute the firmware as opposed to the user
> having to download the firmware themselves and accept arbitrary terms
> and conditions.

Being freely redistributeable doesn't make a blob free software
obviously, so endorsing such blobs would be out of the question as per
the core principles of the FSF.  Correct me if I misunderstand.

> 2. The firmware can be loaded using the standard kernel api and the
> device does not contain any internal storage.

Sounds good.  Having non-free software hidden within a hardware device
is obviously no better than having the OS insert it there whenever the
device is connected, as per the reasons you explained.  (Assuming I
understood it correctly that that's how it normally works; I'm a
hardware noob.  I actually thought firmware blobs are just code loaded
into kernel space, like drivers.  Embarrassing?)

> 3. There is documentation available that enables the developement of
> free firmware.

Definitely yes.

If I understand the situation correctly, I definitely agree that the FSF
should stop being blind to proprietary software hidden within hardware
devices in their endorsements.  Such devices should be discouraged.  But
the FSF would never endorse any other proprietary software / binary
blobs either, if I know anything about their principles. :-)  (And I
agree with those principles, to be clear.)

Thanks for raising this issue.  I had not heard of the trend of putting
proprietary firmware directly into flash storage on hardware devices to
give the illusion that they don't require binary blobs to run.


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