[LinuxBIOS] Recommendations on Fully Free Workstation hardware

Ward Vandewege ward at gnu.org
Sun Nov 26 20:34:22 CET 2006

On Sun, Nov 26, 2006 at 06:47:37PM +0100, Segher Boessenkool wrote:
> > Yeah, I _so_ hope you are or will be wrong :) I don't know of any such
> > firmwares at the moment (I didn't search a lot, though). But that would
> > sure be a great thing to have (and support).
> What good would it do to replace the known-good firmware
> of a hard drive with something home grown?  What's the
> point?

Well - sometimes it's not known-good. I remember having a high-end server a
couple of years back that *required a firmware upgrade* for the hard drives
because re-syncing software raid partitions would just crash the machines.

Also, we might find that lower end drives that are 'slower' might only be
artificially so, because the firmware is not as good as the higher end

And there is the whole Free as in Freedom aspect of course. I think 'because
we want Free software' is a really good reason. Even if having Free firmware
for things like hard drives seems somewhat far fetched and difficult to
achieve now, think of how the whole concept of a Free OS sounded back in the
80s. Or a Free BIOS 10 years ago.

On top of that, think DRM. Say LinuxBIOS becomes really successful, and we
basically kill EFI (and therefore, DRM in the bios). The next thing they'll
try is putting it in video cards, audio cards, hard drives etc. In fact, they
tried that 5 or 6 years ago - remember the whole CPRM fiasco?

Also, just look at those Linksys wireless routers (WRT54G). There's a whole
ecosystem out there - people are doing things with them that were *never*
anticipated by Linksys. Basically, having Free firmware for things like
hard drives could allow some amazing innovation.

And finally, 'because we can' is one heck of a good reason too.


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