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[gNewSense-users] Re: wireless config

From: Eus
Subject: [gNewSense-users] Re: wireless config
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2008 19:00:36 -0800 (PST)

Hi Ho!

--- On Wed, 12/10/08, Quiliro Ordóñez <address@hidden> wrote:

> > So, either you buy another RaLink product whose
> chipset has a free firmware
> > or you follow some howtos to get both the driver and
> the non-free firmware
> > installed on your system. I hope you don't take
> the latter.
> >
> I will stick with option #2 because I feel I should give
> something back to
> those who do  value freedom and have since written free
> software. If I do
> not use non-free software will tell them that I think that
> what they did was
> right.

Are you sure you want to stick with option 2?
IMHO, if I were you, I would buy another device with RaLink chipset that has a 
free firmware like RT2500. This device has both its driver and firware as free 
software. Or, I would choose another free device as listed on
My reason is that if you stick with with option 2, you will encourage the 
vendor to ship their products with non-free firmwares. Please be aware that the 
firmwares are more crucial than the drivers because the firmwares are the very 
component needed to actually run your device. IOW, as far as free firmwares are 
available, developing the free drivers should be possible, but not the other 
way around.

> Nonetheless, I think that the best would be to have a free
> firmware package.

Yes. And in order to do so, we have to buy hardware that has free firmwares so 
as to encourage other vendors to ship free firmwares as well.

> I feel I am not ready to make one but I think that I might
> be able to learn.

I am afraid you cannot do so because a firmware is tightly integrated to the 
hardware. So, if you want to develop a free firmware, you have to know the 
detailed specification to control the hardware that I believe the vendor is not 
willing to disclose if it has already committed to provide the firmware as 

> What skills should I have to master and what are the steps
> required to learn
> them?

Something along the line of embedded system development.

> Another option might be to hire someone to develop
> the driver. How
> much do you think this would cost?

No matter how much you can pay, you cannot develop a free firmware as a 
replacement for the non-free one if a vendor ships a chipset with a non-free 
firmware. Why? Because it means that the vendor is not willing to disclose the 
specification of the chipset. Unfortunately, developing a firmware requires the 
knowledge of this specification. Moreover, the license of the non-free firmware 
always says that you are not permitted to do reverse engineering of the 
non-free firmware to develop the free one. So, I see no way of developing a 
free firmware unless the vendor is willing to disclose the hardware 
specification under terms that permit freedom of use of the specification 

To conclude, I can only suggest that you should always check whether or not a 
hardware comes with a free firmware and buy only the one that has a free 

> Saludos/Greetings
> Quiliro Ordóñez
> 593(02)340 1517 / 593(09)821 8696
> Artículos recientes:
> - Por que aceptar derechos de autor y patentes si no
> tenemos ninguna?

Best regards,
Eus (FSF member #4445)

In this digital era, where computing technology is pervasive,
your freedom depends on the software controlling those computing devices.

Join free software movement today!
It is free as in freedom, not as in free beer!


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