on disabling drivers that use non-Free firmware

Alexandre Oliva lxoliva at fsfla.org
Fri Jan 16 05:01:02 UTC 2009

On Jan 14, 2009, Richard M Stallman <rms at gnu.org> wrote:

>     The third, that I'm working on ATM, is to locate drivers that require
>     non-Free firmware external to the kernel tree, and either disable them
>     from building, or turn their firmware-loading machinery into a one-way
>     user-notification mechanism.  In the latter case, this strategy will
>     also be applied to modules that we used to disable before.

> I think arranging to display the message is an acceptable method of
> disabling, but also any specific blob file name should be removed.

> If the driver is useless after that treatment, it should be
> deleted entirely.

Is it useless if the only thing it actually does is to inform the user
that it won't work on a 100% Free system?

Is it useless if it's disabled, and probably won't even compile after
the blob name was removed?

I understood we had agreed it was enough to remove non-Free bits and any
references to non-Free bits in code and documentation.

What's the point of deleting (rather than simply disabling the ability
to load blobs) a driver that's Free, that will help explain to the user
why it can't work, and that won't even allow loading an unspecified
piece of non-Free Software?

If we delete the driver, it appears to me that the only effect is to
require people who might be interested in creating Free firmware for the
device to go seek the driver in a non-Free codebase.

That's not good, so I must be missing something.  What is it?

Alexandre Oliva           http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Gandhi
Be Free! -- http://FSFLA.org/   FSF Latin America board member
Free Software Evangelist      Red Hat Brazil Compiler Engineer

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