The purpose of this is to keep Stallman from exploding in rage every time someone dares to charge for their hard work, or simply opt not to tell everyone how it was made.
Ok, I didn't think I'll have to enter into this discussion.
1. Stallman has been right time and time again. A lot of freedoms we used to take for granted have been striped away by the governments and the corporations, and we are in progress of losing more. You don't have to like the guy, but do admit he's right, maybe not always in the practical sense, but he gives right goals to aim for. Look at computing landscape and the internet in the 80s and 90s and compare it to today- in terms of how much control the user has over his own hardware and computing tasks he performs.
2. Do you know what is in these blobs? How many backdoors by NSA, or chinese, or disgruntled employee of the manufacturer, or anyone else is there? Or how buggy are they and if they'll mess up your system at the worst possible moment.
3. You want to do something that is not supported by the BLOB- too bad, there's no way to do it. Like run a wireless card in AP mode, or increase transmission power. You can implement that in open-source drivers if there is a need and hardware physically is capable of doing tha
4. You make the choice. You can have a choice between convenience of having things easy, or between trusting the software you run and having the Freedom to do with the software as you wish, as long as the Freedom is preserved for others as well.
Of course in real world, there are tradeoffs and most of us choose ease of use and having things work over having everything 100% free. But these goals and ideals are important, and should not be laughed at.
Because without these ideals, one day you'll wake up in a world where only corporations can develop software (because of patents and other IP laws), and only software developed by corporations can run on computers (because of security), and you are only allowed to do with the computers what is explicitly deemed permissible by the government (because terrorists), and everything is locked down.
Stallman is right sometimes, but everyone mostly ignores him (see GNU/Linux controversy). Stallman does not like the "freedom" to call the software what you want.
Last edited by Britoid; 06-10-2014 at 09:11 AM.
The Problem is more about the updateability. If you have microcode in a rom thats not updateable it is more or less the same as hardware. If its updateable, and u dont have the source of that microcode, it can have regressions, or just it can change. so developing a driver to a blackbox aka reverseengineering is hard enough, but reverseengineer to a moving blackbox target is a problem.
Even if Kernel-devs or distributiors try to only update the blob if no regression is there u could maybe not see the regressions because of stuff users only rarely see.
But its a very small case u can argue both ways. For me thats good enough too.
But the picture not randomly says (dont buy from ati) and not (from amd) because ati really sucked with their linux support and amd more or less fixed it. At least 99% of the problem and the clear bad boy is nvidia at the moment.
there are some problems, distros have to make their hands dirty and burn non-free software on their cds or in their downloads, with roms they dont. so they distribute non-free-software. with roms they dont. Then another problem lets say one distro ships the firmware version x and the other version x+1. Now suddenly u have bugs because of that in one distro. Now the users say ohh this linux devs cant write good drivers even its amds fault.
Last edited by blackiwid; 06-10-2014 at 09:39 AM.
In that case: Sorry, but no. If the removal of the possibility to fix bugs is called freedom I pass. Please keep the freedom to fix bugs.
So if you are not a hardware vendor employe just use gplv3 for your software anyway.
the updatability per se I think would not even the problem, else so a cdrom-drive that you can update the firmware is also allowed, the problem is that without such a blob loaded at every boot it doesnt work. So every distro have to desite which version they deliver, and the user dont get when a problem is that it could have to do with that. If they have to flash a different version and then after that something dont work anymore, they should know that the blob did made a regression, at least the changes are way higher.
BTW the updatability itself makes nothing proprietary, but if linux distros are then degraded to blob-loading bitches, thats a problem.
Its like sex is sex, but if you pay for it, its something different.
For me its not that important because no nsa-spyware can be included, and a free bios would be much more important. BTW another problem could be lisenses, lets say amd changes his lisence that the blob can no longer be loaded with linux. Because Microsoft pays them money.
With flashable firmware its impossible to do that, with such loadable firmware it would be doable at least for newer versions.
Maybe rms has even more reasons but I can think just easily some reasons myself.
I think the point is that, every firmware that has malicious code in it, is bad and even if it would be released under gplv3 it would be bad, but because of that lisence you have the freedom/possibility to fix it.
So a good example here is the firmware of the modem. its gets not loaded like the radeon driver on boot time as far as I understand it? Maybe I am wrong. But still it cant be accepted because it could be used (and is used most likely) to use it against the user.
On other stuff, even backdoors cant hurt the user, because as long as they dont have a evil firmware in the modem they cant send that data out to the world, or cant write down logs because there is no evil firmware in the harddisk.
And at the moment u find such features a firmware is not acceptable and its more than simple hardware. So you can make that desition over a hardware/firmware combination is it only stupid software-circuts that does not more than pure hardware ever would or does it more. But u cant do that against a allways changing target.
And another thing is as far as I understand that gpus also write into shared memory so it could trick the linux os. to do stupid things,
Again I find it ok that they see that as problem, when nvidia tomorow releases its complete driver as gpl and dont have this problem I will buy nvidia from then on. If amd does not react.
I could use Intel of course, but there we have another problem with monopolism and stuff. and yes I really mix here and there some intel hardware in.
having monopolies is also a loss in freedom so its harder to choose. rms freedom views are for me also to one-dymensional. Its true but u cant ignore that we live in a world of forced labor therefor I fight for the BIG (basic income grant).
its even a more fundamental freedom the freedom to work what u want and not to have to choose between that freedom and the freedom to not sleep under a bridge.
And yes for me fedora is free enough, but again its still good to have higher goals even if you miss them. If you follow rms ideas you could not even a replicant cell phone. he does not use one... so its good to have such people and they have a point, and its also good to see how they can live without if something goes even worse. Lets say usa starts also here the terrorism with drones they do on other places in the world. then yes its good to know how to live without cell phones.
BTW the termology in that link is "it can be ignored" they are not 100% happy even with such "good" firmware blobs but they can ignore it. its a compromise. if they would be more radical like all think rms is they would say we only accept hardware with free firmware.
Last edited by blackiwid; 06-10-2014 at 01:20 PM.
And if the newly flashed blob has a regression that makes a new flash impossible you are done with your hardware, while hardware that uses loadable blobs can simply switch to an older version (or a newer fixed one).the updatability per se I think would not even the problem, else so a cdrom-drive that you can update the firmware is also allowed, the problem is that without such a blob loaded at every boot it doesnt work. So every distro have to desite which version they deliver, and the user dont get when a problem is that it could have to do with that. If they have to flash a different version and then after that something dont work anymore, they should know that the blob did made a regression, at least the changes are way higher.
It is simple as that: Putting software into a ROM does not magically make it hardware, regardless how much RMS is wishing for that. This whole "de-blobb your software and put the blobs in ROMs" thing is nothing more than a marketing move to make it possible for libre/GPL fanatics to actually use a computer without violating their own believes.
Don't get me wrong, it definitely would be better if all firmware would be open source, but putting a closed source software into a ROM and claiming that it is not software anymore so that you can use it is pure non-sense.