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Re: [gNewSense-users] firmware in cx88-blackbird.c

From: Karl Goetz
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] firmware in cx88-blackbird.c
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2008 14:36:29 +0930

On Thu, 2008-06-19 at 22:31 +0200, Sam Geeraerts wrote:
> Peter and Jesse wrote:
> > ubuntu/media/cx88/cx88-blackbird.c does not seem to have any large hex
> > tables, but has functions like blackbird_load_firmware. I identified it
> > as non-free, but maybe someone else should double-check.
> > By the way, maybe someone who knows more about this could update the
> > wiki site. The KFV site still implies that all we are doing is checking
> > for the license. What exactly are we looking for when we are looking for
> > firmware and blobs? We've covered this somewhat in our lists, but it
> > would be helpful if they were all compiled on the wiki.
> >  Peter Stevenson
> > 
> I agree that it would be nice to have some rules of thumb for 
> distinguishing non-free firmware/blobs. The problem is that a lot of 
> times it's kind of a you-know-it-when-you-see-it thing. You can't really 
> put a hard limit on how large a table of hex values should be to mark it 
> as non-free.

I think the wiki needs to stress (strongly) is that if you dont know, as
the list. Its absolutely important that people draw more eyes to
questionable sections of code.

> There's also the problem of 'expert knowledge'. A table of hex values 
> could seem unreadable in the eyes of a layperson, but the same table 
> might make a lot of sense to an expert. [1] is not the best illustration 
> of my point, but you get the idea. There's a huge thread somewhere on 
> the fedora-devel mailing list where Alexandre Oliva lobbies for a 
> strictly libre Fedora kernel. There, Alan Cox (among others) argues that
> a) some hex data is common knowledge the field
> b) some of it is the result of trial and error tweaking because that's 
> the only way to develop for that kind of chip or hardware.
> The trouble with (a) is that we probably don't have any experts working 
> on gNewSense, so some data is probably incorrectly marked as non-free.

Such is life, when being overly careful :)
> For (b) we need to decide wether this is an acceptable method to produce 
> libre software. If so then we also need a way to recognize it.

If its the prefered form of modification, then it it could be argued
that its free.
The thing that would really swing it (to me) is that the hex is
documented somehow - "These are the values that didnt break the world
and are used by xyz function" for example.


Karl Goetz <address@hidden>

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