on disabling drivers that use non-Free firmware

Robert Millan rmh at aybabtu.com
Tue Jan 6 00:52:24 UTC 2009

On Mon, Jan 05, 2009 at 07:01:50PM -0500, Richard M Stallman wrote:
>     be pushing it a bit to defend it by claiming that they might be used in
>     100% Free settings.
> But that is not the issue here.  The issue is about drivers which,
> for certain hardware, will not work at all without the loading of
> non-free firmware.
> If we include those drivers unmodified in our version of Linux, users
> will try them, and when they use the devices that require non-free
> firmware, they will ask "how do I make this work".  And someone will
> tell them "here's the file you need", meaning the blob, and they will
> "fix it" by installing the blob.
> We should change these drivers to make report clearly "This device is
> not supported" instead of trying to load the blob.

Somewhat related to this:  I've been toying with the idea of writing a
desktop session daemon, technically similar to Ubuntu's "restricted-manager",
but with a different purpose:  detect devices that require non-free firmware
(based on bus id heuristics), and display a message explaining the user why
these aren't supported, and discouraging him/her from buying hardware from
this vendor.

Maybe I get to it when I find some free time.

Robert Millan

  The DRM opt-in fallacy: "Your data belongs to us. We will decide when (and
  how) you may access your data; but nobody's threatening your freedom: we
  still allow you to remove your data and not access it at all."

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