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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Free firmware - A redefinition of the term and a n

From: Christopher Howard
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Free firmware - A redefinition of the term and a new metric for it's measurement.
Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2017 09:44:16 -0900
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Icedove/45.6.0

Hi David, I don't agree that just being given a redistributable blob is
any wonderful thing. What you end up with down the road (and this is
where we are now) is systems that need several (or many) blobs that only
the providing company understands and controls. Usually these blobs are
in control of critical or highly desirable functionality. You don't know
for sure what the blobs do or whether or not they have security
vulnerabilities. And sometimes the blobs come with restrict licensing
allowing distribution but not allowing you to reverse engineer.

For firmware development to be practical, you want more than
documentation. You want source code. Also (for embedded development) you
want a tool chain. You might have the source code but find it near
impossible to build because you don't have a good tool chain.

Yeah, with documentation, you might be able to engineer the source code
and tool chain... but it might take you 3+ years, and then only if
enough people are interested. And by that time no one will want the
hardware anymore. This isn't a moderately annoying problem for x86, but
it is a major problem for tablets, cell phones, and other embedded

The companies that should be the rewarded are the ones that release
firmware, source code, and tool chain. E.g., Thinkpenguin and the TPE-R1100.

On 02/03/2017 09:18 AM, David Craven wrote:
> Hi Taylan,
>> 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.
> The requirements I proposed for the definition of free firmware is
> already more than most companies are willing to do. Any company
> willing to do these things should IMO get a medal pinned on their
> chest and not be disadvantaged.

Christopher Howard, Computer Assistant
Alaska Satellite Internet
3239 La Ree Way, Fairbanks, AK 99709
907-451-0088 or 888-396-5623 (toll free)
fax: 888-260-3584

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