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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] PureOS added to endorsed distro list - what about

From: Felipe Sanches
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] PureOS added to endorsed distro list - what about the kernel?
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2018 13:05:08 -0200

Regarding devices that rely on non-free fw but that could also work "without firmware"... I think that most likely does not exist.

There are devices that have the fw loaded into RAM and thus require an install at every power up otherwise they will simply not work.
But there are also devices that have factory installed firmware stored in permanent ROM memory and then provide a firmware update mechanism that can be used to install newer versions of the fw (with bugfixes perhaps, but could also include new anti-features and likely new bugs as well). In this case, you can use the old in-ROM firmware or the new firmware provided by the kernel.

Having said that, I have the impression that some people actually refer to running the in-ROM factory fw whey they say the device may run "without a firmware", which is surely a misleading way of expressing what actually happens.

2018-01-22 11:00 GMT-02:00 Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli <address@hidden>:
On Sun, 21 Jan 2018 07:51:44 -0800 (PST)
"Jason Self" <address@hidden> wrote:

> Perhaps a more philosophical question is: *Should* a free program,
> especially one used in FSF-endorsed distros, be generating requests
> for proprietary programs in the first place? Regardless of how they
> might be handled.
I find the requests unclear. With Linux-libre 4.12.14 and Parabola I
> ieee80211 phy1: rt2x00lib_request_firmware: Info - Loading firmware file '/*(DEBLOBBED)*/'
> 1-5:1.0: Missing Free firmware (non-Free firmware loading is disabled)
> rt2800usb 1-5:1.0: Direct firmware load for /*(DEBLOBBED)*/ failed with error -2
> ieee80211 phy1: rt2x00lib_request_firmware: Error - Failed to request Firmware

"Missing" makes me think that I should go find the firmware somewhere
and add it because for some reason it's missing.

A message that would encourage a user or developer to work toward:
- having a free firmware written
- having linux-libre working without a firmware

Sometime the device is working fine without firmware, so here it would
be nice to have an idea of what is the difference of behavior of the
hardware between no firmware and loading the non-free firmware.
This would either inform the user that everything is fine or push
towards making it work better without a firmware or with a free

For instance the message could point to a page on the linux-libre
website that would explains all that in greater length, as it would be
complicated to explain all that in very few lines of messages (which
may even be redundant).


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