[Gta04-owner] Status GTA04 EA

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Mon Sep 19 13:10:55 CEST 2011

Am 19.09.2011 um 12:23 schrieb Bob Ham:

> On Mon, 2011-09-19 at 11:06 +0200, Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
>> Some MCU sits on the MMC/SDIO interface and
>> tries to inject the WiFi firmware.
>>> (Yes, I am not excited with increasing the costs for virtually no effect...)
>> I am also not happy with a complex hardware solution for a copyright
>> issue...
>> But freedom has its price, hasn't it?
> Perhaps I'm being obtuse here but how does burning non-free firmware
> onto a chip help freedom compared to having the same non-free firmware
> on a rewritable chip?

I am not an expert for FSF's ideas and decisions, but that is what I was told.

Having it in a chip, removes it from the software distribution. Therfore, the
software distribution is free (and can be supported by FSF). I.e. is the same
as if you plug in a modem with AT commands.

> To me, this seems absurd.  It's as if you were forced to carry around a
> big iron ball and instead of carrying it in your hands, you attach a
> chain to it and clamp it to your leg but then go around saying to people
> 'I'm free you know!'
> Surely the best approach, in terms of freedom should be increasing
> everybody's freedom by using a free firmware, as opposed to one person
> obeying the restrictions of the non-free firmware and then building a
> big electronic wall around the binary so people can basically pretend
> that the Wi-Fi chip manufacturer hasn't restricted their freedom?

I think, we have several levels of Freedom here.

Software (i.e. kernel, application software, tools). This is what FSF is
talking about. At least how I understand it.

Then, we have firmware for secondary processors embedded into
the hardware. This is something FSF does not like to see in a free
system - unless it is 100% free and open source as well.

A third level can/could be the microcode in a CPU.

And the fourth level are the VHDL designs of the Chips.

But this is just my view.

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