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Old 11-09-2012, 06:08 AM   #91
jtsn
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Originally Posted by qweasd View Post
In particular, I couldn't figure out whether Sun's JDK is free.
Of course, it's not free. Otherwise it could be bundled with Slackware.
 
Old 11-09-2012, 07:38 AM   #92
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They did change the license and Oracle Java SDK is non-free because you can't redistribute it. Sun Java SDK, which was back when Sun had not been gobbled by Oracle was free to redistribute.

To me it doesn't matter if software is non-commercial only, in fact I would apply that to my own software, especially if it required a lot of work.

I also don't expect firmware to be open-source, because it's not really software. It runs a particular device and without explicit knowledge of the device you cannot write firmware for it. There is also no point in making it open-source because it would only work for one device. All I can expect from firmware is that it be free and free to redistribute.

These are probably the things that will drive RMS into a blind rage. But, he is wrong in this. His philosophy is too strict to be implemented, and it really doesn't provide any further benefits.

My conclusion is that Slackware is open-source enough for me. The only software I refuse to use are things like flash player, the nvidia blob, Chrome, Opera (although I do use it rarely and then delete it).

Last edited by H_TeXMeX_H; 11-09-2012 at 07:47 AM.
 
Old 11-09-2012, 09:02 AM   #93
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Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
They did change the license and Oracle Java SDK is non-free because you can't redistribute it. Sun Java SDK, which was back when Sun had not been gobbled by Oracle was free to redistribute.
That figures. Thanks

Quote:
To me it doesn't matter if software is non-commercial only, in fact I would apply that to my own software, especially if it required a lot of work.
I personally don't mind running non-free software as long as it's open-source, but I cannot think of a single useful example (all of such packages on DVD are, in my view, obsolete). The problem, however, is not just with me or you, but with the entire Slackware ecosystem.

IMHO, it is unfortunate that Slackware still includes non-commercial software. I am sure Patrick Volkerding knows what he's doing, although some of those clauses look pretty scary to me, as they should to anyone who makes money by distributing or using Slackware. At the very least I can say that the full install of Slackware, as shipped, is unsuitable for a commercial environment.

Quote:
I also don't expect firmware to be open-source, because it's not really software. It runs a particular device and without explicit knowledge of the device you cannot write firmware for it. There is also no point in making it open-source because it would only work for one device. All I can expect from firmware is that it be free and free to redistribute.
This may have been true a few years ago, but the times are changing. The winter is coming I am looking in /lib/firmware and I see files up to and over 1 MiB in size. Why would I want something like that running in my wireless card? I got all the same problems as with software: I don't know what it's doing, so a network firmware could very easily have a backdoor, a DOS switch, or spy on me and report to the mothership. (Of course, they won't call it "spying", they'll call it something like "anonymous reporting for quality assurance".) Additionally, if I break the law and disassemble it and find a way to fix a trivial bug, I cannot distribute the fix, and if I am big and commercial, then I cannot even implement it. So I don't think it's unreasonable to demand free firmware.

Last edited by qweasd; 11-09-2012 at 09:11 AM.
 
Old 11-09-2012, 10:07 AM   #94
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I'm glad you mentioned a wireless card, because the other issue is that if you can change the firmware you can use any wireless card to hack into a network. It is harder for firmware to spy on you because it is very low level. I suppose for a wireless card this is more plausible because it has access to the internet, but it can't be done easily and without you noticing. You can use a packet sniffer to see if it is spying on you.
 
Old 11-09-2012, 12:19 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
They did change the license and Oracle Java SDK is non-free because you can't redistribute it. Sun Java SDK, which was back when Sun had not been gobbled by Oracle was free to redistribute.
The SUN JDK/JRE was never free to redistribute, much less FOSS. Slackware could redistribute it due to a special Linux distributor's license, which Oracle now revoked. Now Linux distributors have the same redistribution rights as everyone else already had: none.

Quote:
I also don't expect firmware to be open-source, because it's not really software. It runs a particular device and without explicit knowledge of the device you cannot write firmware for it. There is also no point in making it open-source because it would only work for one device.
It may even be the case, that for a particular firmware there is no source code in existence at all. And even if you have the source code, there is a good chance, that the complete toolchain isn't available for the public at all, so the code is totally useless.

Quote:
These are probably the things that will drive RMS into a blind rage. But, he is wrong in this. His philosophy is too strict to be implemented, and it really doesn't provide any further benefits.
The main problem is, that if you're bundling hardware components (Firmware is hardware) with FOSS then the complete product is non-free according to the FSF. This is why I mentioned the BIOS/UEFI issue, which is exactly the same problem.

Quote:
My conclusion is that Slackware is open-source enough for me. The only software I refuse to use are things like flash player, the nvidia blob, Chrome, Opera (although I do use it rarely and then delete it).
Slackware is great in allowing you to run any program regardless conformance to of specific ideological standards on top of it without further hindrances.
 
Old 11-09-2012, 01:50 PM   #96
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Quote:
I also don't expect firmware to be open-source, because it's not really software. It runs a particular device and without explicit knowledge of the device you cannot write firmware for it. There is also no point in making it open-source because it would only work for one device.
It may even be the case, that for a particular firmware there is no source code in existence at all. And even if you have the source code, there is a good chance, that the complete toolchain isn't available for the public at all, so the code is totally useless.
So what you are saying is, some hardware manufacturers got our nuts in a juicer. I see how this can lead people to use blobs (heck, I am stuck here with iwlwifi firmware), but I don't see why anyone should put up with it. I, for one, am tired of being dicked around. This time I finally got a computer that works with free software, and the next time I will get the one with free BIOS and free firmware support.
 
Old 11-09-2012, 04:31 PM   #97
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Originally Posted by qweasd View Post
So what you are saying is, some hardware manufacturers got our nuts in a juicer.
It's how hardware development works: You can build hardware without using well-designed schematics and you can build firmware for it without using full-blown toolchains with source code in a high-level language. The demands the FSF is making is just based on wrong assumptions about what's happening in the real world. Of course it's nice to have schematics, but it's completely unrealistic to demand them for every part of electronic hardware ever produced in human history.
Quote:
I see how this can lead people to use blobs
No, ist has nothing to do with using BLOBs at all. The firmware is purely data for the kernel and never gets executed. The kernel sends it to the specific hardware once and to make it work. You can even stop calling it "firmware" and just say "very long special initialization command".

Just some examples:

A datasheet for a controller from the stone-age says:

Put 0xdeadbeef into register 1, then 0x1337code into register 2 to reset and initialize the controller.

Another datasheet for a controller designed in this century says:

Put 0x13021225d9101202025858131302c05a
75d018d01312d05c22d01402025ce714
4ced4470019074a8f08030ef07e590e4
0f0080f0e52c244060c0241360c02416
60c0241970c0e41a0090f00b138090e4
130080f0e40c0090f01b058090e42300
e4f00190f0a822d30290ed0290f00102
f0ef22d324ef60c0241f60c0242e60c0
243d70c090530b0030e002e122c30090
e00990fe080037800090e013e130c302
90221100fee00090801090241b0030e0
02e122c30090e01990fe180011800090
e023e130c30290222100fee00090e020
eefd37f5f5edd338302220090420900b
080254e0700f0203571209c20290e000
044474f012043a0c04c207c20290e001
e0300003f6800390e026e22002035712
0290e0081b700720020357120390e012
226403601202d257c209740712023a0c
9022030230e047e40620e544603ce534
244060c0241460c0241860c0241c70c0
90220b0030e01be19022130030e013e1
90221b0030e00be19022230030e003e1
120290570302017400f054e0f5c0e540
244060c0242060c0243060c0244070c0
90560b0030e003e1120290570900fee0
00908008903a130030e003e112029057
1100fee00090801090261b0030e003e1
120290571900fee00090801890122300
30e003e1120290572100fee00090e020
eefd37f5f5ed90382703827490f00102
40e590f00602f5e0c33c38e53a9537e5
3995215040e50544e5ffa23713e7e5fc
133812fd20103ce5e230d2048006c202
5306013c3022070b90e4020280f09006
02022074e5f044409001010290f00102
30e003e0800090f627030274aff01240
7410a540800022f67f90e0f802b41203
38160290e001e0300003f6800390e026
e120e507703b020324133be515700390
e024f075a44036f5f085753583243b75
800175030324e5d39536e53a95354039
9036010230e003e0800090f6270324e5
90f00f0030e004e10e3022f60b30e407
0290f002068002907402f02002907401
f02124758003e53da23513e7e5fe1336
acfd9006010230e003e0800090f62703
24e590f00f0030e004e10e3022f6257f
1012e520b536083a35e539b500030480
f5e4223be5c39536f53ae5369535f539
0235961275220fa803907406f0010390
f0070390040890f009036c7490f00a03
ff7490f002031f7490f00003047490f0
25033174d2f022af220022000390e005
e030e00b014430f0020904d207c28d22
a9249007fc7f75e0002526f5e0a32775
f500a328ffe0e0a3e9fde530541460c0
4305030503800553effc3f54404480ff
53063f070553e5f0302405e005438010
5303ef057f90e5fcf026e5a3f028efa3
a3f0f0ed8f22a9249005fc7f75e00025
26f5e0a32775f500a328ffe0e0a3e5fd
30240be50543ef0f3f54404480ff5306
f0050753e93fe0304305100503800553
90effc7f26e5a3f028e5a3f0f0efeda3
22f07f90e0fca3f9fee0e0a3a3fcfbe0
30ef0be50343ec0f3f54404480fc5306
f0030453ed3fe030ef07c05407600a80
54ef60c0430510030380035390effc7f
f0e9eea3a3f0f0eceba322f04be554fd
901ff87fe5f0f54a9009383090e0fc7f
90f0393090e0fd7f90f03a3090e0fe7f
90f03b3090e0ff7fedf0e530540c60c0
900df07f47e580f0e4057f90f0f07f90
e0f86014240860fe240d8003af12ad05
1209c513108005af09ad14128012af07
ad0512096f137f90e0fc3090f0387f90
e0fd3090f0397f90e0fe3090f03a7f90
e0ff3090f03be522644b600102037115
4bf544e543450370150212a0140c0b12
508690fb0000f5e01225b41592c2f5e4
e524c32425954950007e4c7f40742425
82f534e4ad01fc822b757b0212101e07
93c215127da112a0d01524e50f544c24
e6f8affdae4b124ad8154b054be50270
4a050a12055fe5245424700fd2d58093
c3b044e5259544f543e5009443f51402
12f2b41593c292c215127da11280d015
aa7d5574feff15127dd87f557eaa122a
d815307d4baf4aae151212d85f0a93d2
7d2274aaff5512fed815557daa7f2a7e
151222d847ad347f307e15127dd87fff
7e351230d815fde4377f307e151222d8
5574feff151222d8828f838ef0ede422
90fcf07fafe014091460601414151660
60141417186005241670fce41280017c
0e80037c0a80077c06800f7c02801f7c
6fec54f4fc1f3090e034e054fd4ce0a3
43fc1f04347f307e1512add80f041512
e4d87ffd0237d815150200df into I/O memory address 0x4711000 to reset and initialize the controller.

What's the difference between the two? Well for the slightly longer initialization code, the FSF claims there has to be source code and the resulting driver is "non-free". So RMS is actually tries using the GPL to dictate, how to design hardware. Why? Because you can just hardwire the initialization into a mask ROM and you're fine. It makes the thing just more expensive. And if you got something wrong, you just have to shred the complete production batch instead of simply modifying a driver.

Of course, you have no idea, what this initialization code does on your controller, because usually you don't have schematics for it. And you don't have schematics for the power supply, the transformer on the street and the power plant, to which your free system clearly is connected to. Because it doesn't run without non-free electrical power.

Somewhere you have to draw the line...
 
Old 11-09-2012, 05:49 PM   #98
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No, ist has nothing to do with using BLOBs at all. The firmware is purely data for the kernel and never gets executed.
So it gets executed by an on-board CPU, the one I also own. I fail to see how this is at all different from running mystery software on my main CPU, other than the scale. I don't care, for example, which CPU is being used to implement spyware. They won't be able to spy on much data from my network card, but encryption is "too hard", so actually they will be able to see nearly everything for nearly everyone.

Quote:
The kernel sends it to the specific hardware once and to make it work. You can even stop calling it "firmware" and just say "very long special initialization command".
Firmware I am concerned with is software. That would be all the wireless firmware, for starters.

Quote:
Of course, you have no idea, what this initialization code does on your controller, because usually you don't have schematics for it. And you don't have schematics for the power supply,
Yeah, and I am pissed off. Publishing whatever sources in whatever form and using a free license would cost manufacturers next to nothing. We should have access to all of this, since we paid for the bloody devices.
Quote:
the transformer on the street and the power plant, to which your free system clearly is connected to. Because it doesn't run without non-free electrical power.
Somewhere you have to draw the line...
I draw the line right above this quote. The transformer on the street belongs to a private utility company, so they can run whatever they want there.
 
Old 11-10-2012, 09:03 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by qweasd View Post
I went through 1000+ packages on the Slackware DVD and compiled the list of non-free software, check it out While I did my best to be thorough, it is not impossible that I missed something or made a mistake, so please let me know if you see an omission or a discrepancy. In particular, I couldn't figure out whether Sun's JDK is free.
Thanks for your work compiling the list.

My first thought after seeing the list was, "that's it?" That's actually not a bad list; smaller than I thought it would be.

Given that being totally free and open source is not one of Slackware's stated goals, having sixteen packages/libraries (including the three slackbuilds) be non-free is quite an accomplishment.

I'm grateful that Eric (AlienBob) has the free alternative to Java available on his website and mirrors.

Regards,
 
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:55 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by jtsn View Post
You can even stop calling it "firmware" and just say "very long special initialization command".
Your observation that the von-Neumann-machine does not make a categorial distinction between executable code and data is correct. However, your attempt to deny the software quality of executable firmware programs will not stand up to any meaningful definition of the term "software". Neither will it stand up in court.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtsn View Post
So RMS is actually tries using the GPL to dictate, how to design hardware.
This conclusion of yours is a mystery.
 
Old 11-11-2012, 09:22 AM   #101
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Originally Posted by Martinus2u View Post
Your observation that the von-Neumann-machine does not make a categorial distinction between executable code and data is correct. However, your attempt to deny the software quality of executable firmware programs will not stand up to any meaningful definition of the term "software". Neither will it stand up in court.
Of course, let courts and their layman-juries decide about technical facts. I'm sure, that leads to the right answer.

And BTW we could pass a law that defines π as 4. ;-)
 
Old 11-12-2012, 10:43 AM   #102
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The firmware is purely data for the kernel and never gets executed.
I've been reading about this, and it's much more depressing than I ever realized. According to Can you still trust your network card? (PDF), a wireless NIC may have write access to the main memory, and they were able to build a proof of concept in Linux. Yeah, that's right: under certain circumstances, wireless NIC firmware can take over your entire host, and this is not due to a bug, but because it has DMA by design.

Last edited by qweasd; 11-12-2012 at 10:50 AM.
 
Old 11-12-2012, 11:34 AM   #103
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I've been reading about this, and it's much more depressing than I ever realized.
Maybe you thought "I just install Linux on my machine and then I don't need a tinfoil hat anymore." ;-)

You are at the mercy of your hardware. If you can't trust it, you lost.

Removing files from /lib/firmware isn't gonna help you, because most of it is preloaded on the hardware. Like the firmware of your hard disk drive, which can manipulate and tamper with your free software, as it likes. On top of that, you can hard-wire backdoors or surveillance devices into any hardware without having to rely on firmware at all.

So it is mainly misunderstanding technical basics and trying to achieve something based on wrong assumptions.
 
  


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