on disabling drivers that use non-Free firmware

Robert Millan rmh at aybabtu.com
Wed Jan 7 03:02:22 UTC 2009

I guess I'll have to play devil's advocate :-)

On Wed, Jan 07, 2009 at 12:20:45AM -0200, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> Take Gnash, for one.  I don't disbelieve that there might be Free
> Shockwave Flash programs out there, but I don't know of any.

I don't think they're that uncommon.  Take, for example:


I just know because I run into this one myself, but there are probably many
(ask the Gnash maintainers).

> Take Wine.  It doesn't make sense unless you can't recompile the program
> on a Free system, and if you can't, the program is not Free.

Or maybe you're developing a free program which you want to run on Windows,
but you don't want to use Windows yourself, and you need some way to test
your code.

> However, I'm not convinced it's worth doing.  I mean, if we just disable
> the driver (as in preventing it from being compiled in the first place),
> like we do now (for nearly all such drivers), this change won't make any
> difference.  So I'm not entirely convinced it's worth doing.
> The only thing I'm sure about at this point is that it's a difficult
> call :-(  At least for me it is.  I kind of hope I'm missing something
> obvious here.  Help? (more :-)

I think an important point that AFAICS wasn't mentioned, is that there's a
significant gap between us who're committed to freedom and those who support
"open source", and that this gap has grown a lot in the past few years
(firmware blobs, DRM, SaaS, etc), to the point that it looks more difficult
for those in the other side to cross it (they daemonize us, labeling us
as "uncompromising zealots", etc - I had my share of that just by reading

My gut feeling is that making it even bigger over smaller details like this
one would cause more harm than good, and it could dangerously drift attention
away from the core message, which is that firmware blobs are wrong in the
first place.

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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