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Re: [gNewSense-users] Firmware - out of the kernel but still in the hard

From: J.B. Nicholson-Owens
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] Firmware - out of the kernel but still in the hardware?
Date: Sun, 05 Nov 2006 23:54:52 -0600
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20061027)

Dennis Kibbe wrote:
For example, the Intel 2200 chipset doesn't work with gNewSense because
of firmware blobs missing from /lib/firmware.  The Netgear MA-401 PCMCIA
card does work, but isn't that just because the firmware is in the
chipset in the card instead of in the kernel?

If that's the case then the end result is the same, isn't it?

I find RMS' argument on this to be well-reasoned. I'll try and summarize it: it's not the same situation if the Netgear card you name doesn't support uploading new software. If the Netgear card has ROM on it holding this code and the code on that ROM can't be changed by uploading new software to it, then the Netgear card might as well use circuitry to do what that ROM does.

On the other hand, the Intel card you name supports uploading different software to it, therefore it's the same situation as a general-purpose computer running different programs as far as software freedom goes. One could, theoretically, spend the time reverse-engineering the software for the Intel card and upload different software, fixing bugs, adding features, etc. This makes the Intel card more versatile but non-free until we get free software to send to it.

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