Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

max maximilianbianco at gmail.com
Tue Jun 17 21:25:48 UTC 2008

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? no loss of functionality whatsoever? can you still interact 
with it? 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.

> "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. At some point it has to be configurable by a 
person through some extension or another in order to be useful. I don't 
think manufacturers obsessed with the bottom line are hiring programmers 
to write unneeded firmware just to annoy free software advocates.

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

Unnecessary but is that the case in every instance?

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.

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