[LinuxBIOS] Recommendations on Fully Free Workstation hardware

Ward Vandewege ward at gnu.org
Sun Nov 26 23:27:32 CET 2006

On Sun, Nov 26, 2006 at 11:05:27PM +0100, Segher Boessenkool wrote:
> So, did you get a (small) update from the vendor, or did you
> pull off the semi-impossible task of rewriting the thing from
> scratch :-)

Sure, we got the vendor patch. But I'm glad we were not the *first* people to
run into this problem. It would have taken days or weeks for the vendor to do
something, I'm sure.

> This doesn't solve a _problem_.  Oh, and there are plenty of
> binary patches you can find around the web that do such things.
> They typically void your warranty *for a good reason* though.

We don't really care about that, though, right :) Installing LinuxBIOS voids
the board vendor's warranty too, I'm sure.

> > And there is the whole Free as in Freedom aspect of course. I think 
> > 'because
> > we want Free software' is a really good reason.
> It would be nice to have, yes, but I think right now we have
> much bigger problems to solve first.

Sure. This whole thread is pretty hypothetical. I'm just answering your
question, pointing out a few reasons why free firmware for devices might be a
good idea.

> > 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.
> Yes.  And none of those new things have anything to do
> (directly) with firmware changes.

Sure - my point was that opening up a black-box 'device' can lead to some
pretty amazing innovation.

> > Basically, having Free firmware for things like
> > hard drives could allow some amazing innovation.
> ...and will lead to *lots* of bricked drives ;-)

Maybe video cards or network cards would be a better example here. But, yes.

> I'm not convinced you can really; esp. not legally.  But yeah,
> that "geek factor" would make me want to do it, sure -- except
> I see a HDD as 100% a black box with no internals that I care
> about (or want to care about).  I also don't feel like reprogramming
> the ucode on CPUs, or even the ucode on a flash chip's internal
> controller, etc.

But your network interface? Video card?


Ward Vandewege <ward at gnu.org>

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