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

From: Carsten Agger
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] firmware in cx88-blackbird.c
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2008 09:58:58 +0200

Karl Goetz <address@hidden> wrote:
> >
> > 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.

If this is the preferred form of modification, then it *must* be argued that it 
is free; if there´s no hidden source code, then the hex data *is* the source 
code in and of itself, and then the software is free if the file is under a 
free license.

> 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.

That would be nice, but this is more a question about coding practises: Yes, 
writing code so that it´s clear and easy to read, and keeping it well 
documented, is a good coding practise which I myself strive to follow. It does 
not, however, have anything to do with the question of whether the code is 

Otherwise, I know of a great number of Perl scripts which would also have to be 
marked as non-free because they contain so convoluted one-liners and regular 
expressions that they can probably only ever be understood by the author.

What matters is ultimately not whether data is hexadecimal or not, but whether

a) you´re free to use, modify, share and improve it and
b) it "hides" some source code which was used to generate it

if ( a and not b) -> the software is free, and this would be true even if it 
was all hexadecimal.



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