[linux-elitists] Fwd: Copyright infringement in linux/drivers/usb/serial/keyspan*fw.h

Greg KH greg@wirex.com
Tue Apr 24 14:43:02 PDT 2001


On Tue, Apr 24, 2001 at 02:24:51PM -0700, Seth David Schoen wrote:
> 
> Probably none: isn't this just another form of "hardware vendors won't
> release necessary information to permit development of a free driver"?

No, it's what Linux kernel developers have been telling hardware vendors
is acceptable.  They are still publishing their interface to their
devices.  The firmware doesn't differ from the firmware offered in the
Window's drivers (usually, sometimes it does, but rarely.)

More and more hardware devices have updatable firmware in them.
Previously it was just in a ROM on the device, now it can be downloaded
from the host.  This makes bug fixes easier by manufacturers, but in
reality, nothing has changed (like someone pointed out previously about
all of the different firmware images in your machine today that are not
"free".)

> Remember that it's rarely, lately, "hardware vendors won't release
> necessary information to permit development of a driver"; it's much
> more often been "hardware vendors won't release necessary information
> to permit development of a free driver".

Yes, there still is resistance.  But that's getting better (I speak from
experience here.)  If a device contains firmware that _has_ to be
downloaded to it to work properly (like a lot of USB devices) how should
the vendor who is willing to release the specs to the interface to the
device, license the binary firmware image?

> I know it _looks_ kind of like a free driver, but remember that, for
> some purposes, the license content is much more important than the
> appearances.

To a point.  The driver is still free.  It's the firmware image that
isn't.  Now if this forces us to use usermode programs to dump binary
images to devices, so be it (like Adam has proposed.)  But is that the
only solution?

Bleah, I'll stop now, sorry.

greg k-h
(maybe it's time to sign up to be a debian developer...)



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