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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, 10 Feb 2017 09:21:48 -0900
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Icedove/45.6.0

On 02/10/2017 08:31 AM, David Craven wrote:
> Hi Maxim
>> +1. I don't see how having blobs helps security at all.
> Well the problem I was getting at is that things are not as fixed as
> they may seem.
> Quoting wikipedia:
>>> Decreasing cost of reprogrammable devices had almost eliminated the market 
>>> for mask ROM by the year 2000.
> Translation: ROM is not RO.
> It is not a theoretical threat, and just as dangerous as other threats
> that people put a lot of effort in avoiding [0]
> I don't see how trusting the manufacturer when buying the product is
> any different from trusting him down the road. I was talking about
> malicious third parties. Obviously planting something in difficult to
> upgrade persistent memory is a lucrative target for attackers -
> manipulating firmware becomes plain uninteresting in the other case.
>> 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.
>> Indeed, we ought to put our money where our mouth is, i.e. back the
>> companies which are helping the cause of free software/hardware.
> I don't think they actually produce any silicon, toolchain or firmware
> themselves. At least I didn't find a link to it. So they are basically
> using other peoples silicon, toolchain and firmware. Giving them
> credit for complying with the GPL is not quite right either. (But I
> don't know who's behind the thinkpenguin and it looks like a great
> accomplishement).
> To independently verify the claim that the firmware they are using is
> indeed fixed, would actually require them to release both schematics
> and datasheets of their designs.
> [0]

Stallman did an extensive article in 2015 which I think is relevant to
this discussion:

I don't have the schematics for TPE-R1100, though I think they would
send them if I asked. It is based on the AR9331 SoC which is quite open.
There was one other large chip on the board... I'll have to check what
that is after I get home.

Christopher Howard, Computer Assistant
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