[Gta04-owner] Status GTA04 EA

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Mon Sep 19 13:17:15 CEST 2011

Am 19.09.2011 um 12:25 schrieb NeilBrown:

> On Mon, 19 Sep 2011 11:06:40 +0200 "Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller"
> <hns at goldelico.com> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> Am 19.09.2011 um 09:52 schrieb Butrus Damaskus:
>>> On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 9:13 AM, Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller
>>> <hns at goldelico.com> wrote:
>>>> 4. FSF is interested in removing the non-free libertas firmware from the
>>>> rootfs. So they suggested to put it into a small MCU. If you are interested,
>>>> please read the project proposal and apply:
>>>>       http://projects.goldelico.com/p/gta04-main/page/FirmwareInjector/
>>> Hm, how big is the firmware? Cannot this be solved in another way then
>> approx. 128 kByte.
>>> by adding components -
>>> (e.g. reserving a special RO partition in the flash reserved for the
>>> firmware and distributing the boards already with it)?
>> I have discussed that with RMS - and it is not permitted to be user-changeable
>> by not so easy means. The idea is that is must be "like hardware".
> I wasn't going to say anything at first but.... this is insane.
> How does it increase any freedom to make a firmware update harder?
> I understand there are issues with distributing firmware blobs together with
> Free Software and pushing the blob into hardware might remove those issues.
> But there are other ways to resolve those issues by simply creating separate
> distribution channels.
> What does "is it not permitted" mean in this connect?  Who won't give whom
> what permission, and for what reason is that permission required?

Well, "permission" may be the wrong wording. I think they said "can be endorsed
by FSF". It is always a problem citing others correctly...

> I'm a big believe in freedom and I want the freedom to update firmware easily.

Here again, I agree - but there are two parts of freedom. One is that you can
provide a new firmware file to the downloader. This is given in the current solution.

The other is: where do you get a new file from?

In the case of the WiFi chip there is only one binary (non-free) available and
nobody has the sources. So while you have the freedom to replace the file,
you have no alternative to use it. No chance to fix bugs. No chance to add
new functions.

This is where FSF says: if you can't change it because you can't recompile it,
you won't loose anything if you hide it completely.


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