[Mageia-dev] Non-free firmwares in installer

Michael scherer misc at zarb.org
Sat Mar 26 13:19:10 CET 2011

On Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 09:33:04AM +0100, Tux99 wrote:
> Quote: andr55 wrote on Fri, 25 March 2011 01:29
> > My though was essentially that firmware is so close to hardware that
> > its 
> > actual free/non-free status shouldn't apply - we should treat it like 
> > (almost) part of the hardware.
> I agree with that. After all nobody (apart from R. Stallmann) questions the
> fact that the BIOS of their PC is non-free or all the other firmware or
> microcode on various chips on the motherboard and on expansion cards and
> peripherals.

In fact, this bother a lot of people :

People who write coreboot for example ( http://www.coreboot.org ). The project started
because someone wanted to be sure that his cluster didn't have bios problem. It is a daunting
task to hit any key on 1000 servers, especially if none of them have a keyboard.

People who just want to know how the pc work, for example, students in low level system.
Lack of source doesn't really help to understand and learn, at least for the average

People who maybe want to understand why the driver they wrote broke with firmware update 
( happened on some Apple laptop because apple updated something that broke video driver on linux ).
Or why it work with some card and not some other, since they have a different firmware.

People who wonder if their TPM chips is really under their control or not. Maybe a bunch of 
loonies. Maybe they are just ex sony customers screwed by their vendor, or people
who had 1984 on their Kindle before Amazon removed it.

Or simply people that want to know what was fixed for their hardware. 
( https://admin.fedoraproject.org/updates/F14/FEDORA-2010-18594 ). Or just
want to avoid security issues ( https://events.ccc.de/congress/2010/Fahrplan/track/Hacking/4174.en.html ).
Or avoid waiting 5 minutes delay when booting a server for likely no good reason.

Or people that have trouble because the lack of free software in their area
prevent them from doing their work as security researcher, as demonstrated by
the project Osmocombb ( http://bb.osmocom.org/trac/ ).

But, yes maybe if we remove some security researchers, some cluster admins, 
some people that would prefer to not be screwed by vendor, some kernel developpers, 
some impatient sysadmins, some students, some coders and RMS, there is no one who 
question it.

Michael Scherer

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