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Old 06-18-2008, 01:22 PM
max
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

jeff wrote:

max wrote:

jeff wrote:

max wrote:

jeff wrote:

Hans de Goede wrote:
It depends on your definition of software, according to Fedora's
definitions firmware is not software it is content. I know this is
a word game, but think about it, what is the definition of software?


From the Oxford English Dictionary:

software
1. Computers. a. The programs and procedures required to
enable a computer to perform a specific task, as opposed to the
physical components of the system (see also quot. 1961). b. esp.
The body of system programs, including compilers and library
routines, required for the operation of a particular computer and
often provided by the manufacturer, as opposed to program material
provided by a user for a specific task.



I didn't realize fedora was claiming that firmware isn't software.
Now that is bullshit. You call it a word game, I'll call it what it
is. *Content??!* It's obviously software. I mean, it can be copied,
it can be rewritten (well, by the people in the castle with the
code), it can be compiled, etc... Clearly software. I guess you
need a PhD to delude yourself otherwise.


Usually techs are so precise, I can't believe the doublethinking here.



You are starting to work against yourself. Firmware usually comes
with my devices, it is reloadable but it comes with the device when
I make the purchase, I don't have to load firmware into a device to
make it work in the first place. It is part of the hardware because
the hardware requires it to run. I thought that was why software and
firmware where two different terms. Firmware is software but the
hardware relies on it to function and it is included in the purchase
price of the hardware. Software is generally acquired separately
from the hardware. Windows(software) comes preinstalled on many
computers(hardware) but I can remove windows and still have
functional hardware but if I remove the BIOS , windows nor linux
will run.



If you remove the non-free software from tg3.c the device will still
work.

Completely?


Yes.


no loss of functionality whatsoever?


I think the firmware does some TCP offloading or something so more
processing happens in the card instead of the kernel, but I'm really not
certain what the firmware is doing. In fact, only the people with the
source code know what it's doing, I supppose.


But it works 100% fine as a regular network card without the firmware.


can you still interact with it?


Yes.

I need to be able to interact with a device in order for it to be
useful to me. My car will run without a driver but its not going
anywhere. My computer will run without an operator but human
interaction is required at some point to make it useful to me, if only
for initial setup.


The card works fine with linux-libre, no firmware required.

"It is part of the hardware because the hardware requires it to run",
you wrote.


I phrased it poorly in hindsight but its more or less true in most
cases, or I should have said that its needed to interact with other
hardware or software.


So you meant "It is part of the hardware because its needed to interact
with the hardware or software" ??? wtf?


At some point it has to be configurable by a person through some
extension or another in order to be useful.


/sbin/ifconfig

I don't think manufacturers obsessed with the bottom line are hiring
programmers to write unneeded firmware just to annoy free software
advocates.


I don't either.


>What does that make the non-free software in tg3.c?


Unnecessary but is that the case in every instance?


Does it have to be? I'm just pointing out the things I see in the Linux
kernel that are clearly not free software.


I am perfectly willing to be educated/corrected and I have heard
arguments from both sides that have merit, I am tempted to send a copy
of the GPL to my lawyer and get the interpretation of someone who
doesn't have a horse in this race.


Please do. And show him a copy of tg3.c too please.


BTW I never said he, you have made an unwarranted assumption:^) tsktsktsk

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Old 06-18-2008, 01:35 PM
David Woodhouse
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Wed, 2008-06-18 at 09:07 -0400, max wrote:
> David Woodhouse wrote:
> > Along with the quotes from one of its authors, who also happens to be
> > the overall network driver maintainer for Linux, and has stated that
> > each driver and its firmware are 'intimately tied... pieces of a single,
> > cohesive whole'.
> >
>
> Why or how have they become "intimately tied"?

That's a question you'd have to direct to the author of that file, who
said that they were. He ought to know.

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Old 06-18-2008, 01:38 PM
Andrew Haley
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

jeff wrote:
> max wrote:
>> jeff wrote:

>>> If you remove the non-free software from tg3.c the device will still
>>> work.
>> Completely?
>
> Yes.
>
>> no loss of functionality whatsoever?
>
> I think the firmware does some TCP offloading or something so more
> processing happens in the card instead of the kernel, but I'm really not
> certain what the firmware is doing. In fact, only the people with the
> source code know what it's doing, I supppose.
>
> But it works 100% fine as a regular network card without the firmware.

So, let me summarize: we have a bit of binary-only fimware that does
goodness knows what in a critical part of our systems. We don't actually
need this firmware; it may or may not improve performance. Is this right?

It sounds to me as though we're better off without it, regardless of its
status with regard to the GPL.

Andrew.

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Old 06-18-2008, 01:49 PM
Les Mikesell
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

Andrew Haley wrote:



If you remove the non-free software from tg3.c the device will still
work.

Completely?

Yes.


no loss of functionality whatsoever?

I think the firmware does some TCP offloading or something so more
processing happens in the card instead of the kernel, but I'm really not
certain what the firmware is doing. In fact, only the people with the
source code know what it's doing, I supppose.

But it works 100% fine as a regular network card without the firmware.


So, let me summarize: we have a bit of binary-only fimware that does
goodness knows what in a critical part of our systems. We don't actually
need this firmware; it may or may not improve performance. Is this right?


I don't know if this is correct or varies from device to device but my
assumption was that most devices would have a version of firmware
installed when shipped and the drivers are updating to current versions.



It sounds to me as though we're better off without it, regardless of its
status with regard to the GPL.


Perhaps, if you like old buggy versions of firmware...

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Old 06-18-2008, 02:25 PM
"Bill Crawford"
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

2008/6/18 Andrew Haley <aph@redhat.com>:

> So, let me summarize: we have a bit of binary-only fimware that does
> goodness knows what in a critical part of our systems. We don't actually
> need this firmware; it may or may not improve performance. Is this right?

This sounds like most computer systems (BIOS, although we can usually
do without it mostly after boot time) and their components e.g. most
modern network interfaces, SCSI controllers and so on, lots of which
have some sort of firmware embedded in some way on the card or the
main device on it. The next point you make is a good one, ...

> It sounds to me as though we're better off without it, regardless of its
> status with regard to the GPL.

Yes. Which is why we should stop supporting these "PCs" which aren't
completely free.

> Andrew.

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Old 06-18-2008, 02:26 PM
max
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

David Woodhouse wrote:

On Wed, 2008-06-18 at 09:07 -0400, max wrote:
David Woodhouse wrote:

Along with the quotes from one of its authors, who also happens to be
the overall network driver maintainer for Linux, and has stated that
each driver and its firmware are 'intimately tied... pieces of a single,
cohesive whole'.


So the driver and its firmware are indistinct from the whole? You cannot
tell where the driver and firmware begin and end?



Why or how have they become "intimately tied"?


That's a question you'd have to direct to the author of that file, who
said that they were. He ought to know.

You based your argument around something you haven't confirmed? That
hardly seems wise but I can't say I have never done the same, lets all
try to avoid this in the future shall we, in such manner are asses
made;^). The author is also a programmer yes? not a lawyer? I am not
sure the author is qualified in the legal sense to make this
determination. The rapid evolution of technologies makes these things
especially difficult. Where can I find his quotes? Are they in the
documentation? I ask because *if* I forward this along I'll get asked
for all this info, it seems quite relevant depending on the basis for
this judgement but IANAL (i have always found this combination of
letters amusing because I think a good lawyer is anal retentive or I
guess any thorough person really, and that's certainly a quality I'd
want in my lawyer :^)


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Old 06-18-2008, 02:29 PM
Andrew Haley
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

Bill Crawford wrote:
> 2008/6/18 Andrew Haley <aph@redhat.com>:
>
>> So, let me summarize: we have a bit of binary-only fimware that does
>> goodness knows what in a critical part of our systems. We don't actually
>> need this firmware; it may or may not improve performance. Is this right?
>
> This sounds like most computer systems (BIOS, although we can usually
> do without it mostly after boot time)

I think we have to boot.

> and their components e.g. most
> modern network interfaces, SCSI controllers and so on, lots of which
> have some sort of firmware embedded in some way on the card or the
> main device on it.

Really? We don't need this firmware? Are you sure about that?

> The next point you make is a good one, ...

>> It sounds to me as though we're better off without it, regardless of its
>> status with regard to the GPL.
>
> Yes. Which is why we should stop supporting these "PCs" which aren't
> completely free.

I don't understand what you're saying here. Are you saying that we
should stop supporting any PC that contains any firmware that isn't
free? That seems rather extreme.

Andrew.

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Old 06-18-2008, 02:33 PM
"Bill Crawford"
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

2008/6/18 Andrew Haley <aph@redhat.com>:


> Really? We don't need this firmware? Are you sure about that?

We do need it, which was what I was getting at ) this fuss is ...
well, shipping replacements for those firmwares is IMO subtly
different to shipping a binary driver to run on the cpu. There *is* an
argument that for perfect security (or at least peace of mind) we
should consider these a potential source of danger (bugs in firmware
might mean random DMA-ing of your crypto keys into a network packet,
etc etc but the real risk is likely zero).

>> Yes. Which is why we should stop supporting these "PCs" which aren't
>> completely free.
>
> I don't understand what you're saying here. Are you saying that we
> should stop supporting any PC that contains any firmware that isn't
> free? That seems rather extreme.

I was joking )

If we're content with on-board firmware, what's the harm in shipping
replacement firmware to put on those devices when we boot? *shrug*

> Andrew.

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Old 06-18-2008, 02:36 PM
max
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

Bill Crawford wrote:

2008/6/18 Andrew Haley <aph@redhat.com>:


So, let me summarize: we have a bit of binary-only fimware that does
goodness knows what in a critical part of our systems. We don't actually
need this firmware; it may or may not improve performance. Is this right?


This sounds like most computer systems (BIOS, although we can usually
do without it mostly after boot time) and their components e.g. most
If you need it at boot time then I don't think you can say you don't
need it.
However this does lead to another interesting point, Linux BIOS, I know
there is the coreboot project :



http://www.coreboot.org/Welcome_to_coreboot


I know some boards are supposed to be coming out with Linux BIOS
What impact might this have on proprietary firmware and drivers and such?


modern network interfaces, SCSI controllers and so on, lots of which
have some sort of firmware embedded in some way on the card or the
main device on it. The next point you make is a good one, ...


It sounds to me as though we're better off without it, regardless of its
status with regard to the GPL.


Yes. Which is why we should stop supporting these "PCs" which aren't
completely free.

I'm all for it too but first you have to get completely free options on
the market place.
People cannot support what is not available. If you know of one then
please post a link, I am thinking about a new box and completely free
(not referring to price here obviously) would suit me just fine.



Andrew.





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Old 06-18-2008, 02:42 PM
Andrew Haley
 
Default Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

Bill Crawford wrote:
> 2008/6/18 Andrew Haley <aph@redhat.com>:
>
>
>> Really? We don't need this firmware? Are you sure about that?
>
> We do need it, which was what I was getting at )

Sure, but my argument was not about firmware that we need, it was
about firmware that we don't need.

> this fuss is ...
> well, shipping replacements for those firmwares is IMO subtly
> different to shipping a binary driver to run on the cpu. There *is* an
> argument that for perfect security (or at least peace of mind) we
> should consider these a potential source of danger (bugs in firmware
> might mean random DMA-ing of your crypto keys into a network packet,
> etc etc but the real risk is likely zero).

>>> Yes. Which is why we should stop supporting these "PCs" which aren't
>>> completely free.
>> I don't understand what you're saying here. Are you saying that we
>> should stop supporting any PC that contains any firmware that isn't
>> free? That seems rather extreme.
>
> I was joking )

But this is a complete non sequitur as a reply to my argument,
which was about *unnecessary* firmware updates. I can understand
why you say this, but I can't understand why you think it is an
appropriate reply to what _I_ said.

> If we're content with on-board firmware, what's the harm in shipping
> replacement firmware to put on those devices when we boot? *shrug*

Well, consider the alternative: every time a hardware manufacturer
throws a random binary over the wall and asks us to put it into
our kernel, we salute and say "Yes, sir!"

Andrew.

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