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Re: [gNewSense-users] Intel's excuse for non-free WiFi binary firmware

From: Sam Geeraerts
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] Intel's excuse for non-free WiFi binary firmware
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 19:47:37 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla-Thunderbird (X11/20080420)

Mathieu Stumpf wrote:
I attended an OpenMoko talk at FOSDEM 2007 and they said that their GSM
stack is not open because FCC don't allow it. The reason is that it's either
illegal or unsafe (I forgot which one) to broadcast radio waves with more
power. People are protected from doing this (either accidentally or on
purpose) by not being able to change the strength of the signal.

Let me laugh please. It only take a Ricoré[1] box and a little hack to
power up a wifi signal.

[1] Ricoré is a famous coffee-like drink that you can find in every
shop, at least in france.

I don't know how valid that argument is. I'd think that there wouldn't be a
problem if you make the hardware so that it can't go beyond a certain
strength. It seems to me that that's also the only way to make sure it stays
within the limits.

This is not, to my mind, a valid argument, and as said, you can easily
work around a wifi hardware limitation.

Next they will tell you they can't release their electronic coffee
maker firmware because you could hack it so it makes coffee to hot.

I've heard other people say that the FCC's prohibition is ridiculous. They (and Karl and you) make some points that sound sensible. I can't really tell if they are because I'm ignorant in these matters. The question I have been asking myself for some time is: why haven't I heard of anyone fighting this then?

I mean, there's,,, and what not. Those are all valuable campaigns that fight against threats to libre software or for the adoption of libre software. WiFi and 3D graphics are probably the biggest hardware issues that are in the way of fully libre software adoption. The latter isn't hindered by legislation and nouveau, Open Graphics Project and Project VGA are trying to fix this. A nouveau-like project for WiFi is not an option because of FCC restrictions. I have not yet seen an open hardware project for WiFi. Maybe it's difficult to do because of FCC certification requirements, maybe nobody is interested or knowledgable enough to do it. But I would think it hurts the libre software community enough for somebody who knows about FCC regulations to set up a website with information, a petition or a genuine campaign.

I'm not saying you guys are wrong, I'm just making an observation.

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