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Wireless Networking Operating Systems Hardware BSD

Update On OpenBSD Firmware Activism 134

Posted by Hemos
from the more-then-one-side-to-a-story dept.
putko writes "Here's an update on the OpenBSD firmware activism. Basically, Intel says no. Plenty of contact info, in case you want to write someone an email or a phone call. As Theo writes, 'Without these firmware files included in OpenBSD, users must go do some click-through license at some web site to get at the files. Without those files, these devices are just bits of metal, plastic, and sand.'" While I applaud the notion behind Freer distribution (as in beer) it's also highly probable that Intel doesn't have much ground make them freer - we've seen this before on machines like the HP nw8000; basically, the wireless stuff is owned by someone else, licensed by Intel. That's not to say that the fight isn't worth fighting for freer distribution - it is. But if you want to make your voice heard, remember to be effective advocate.
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Update On OpenBSD Firmware Activism

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  • by Cutriss (262920) on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:18AM (#10887602) Homepage
    Perhaps it's just me, but I think it would have been useful and rather painless to include the word "Centrino" somewhere in that article so that people who aren't intimately familiar with OpenBSD would know what we were talking about without having to guess (or read 2/3s of the thing before they actually see the word "wireless").
    • Come on... that'd make the article slightly useful to the readers and therefore might risk an increase in useful and informative comments.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe that's because Centrino is a platform, not just the wireless part of the package (Pentium M and the mobo being the other two parts of the package).
    • In computing, firmware is software that is embedded in a hardware device, that allows reading and executing the software, but does not allow modification, e.g., writing or deleting data by an end user.

      Wikipedia

      When people develop new hardware, it's usually a lot cheaper to control the hardware from Software, instead of developing that expensive chip that goes inside the hardware. For example, Afga scanners use firmware to control their scanners. Note: Firmware is not the same as drivers. Firmware is lo

      • RTFA!!!
        OpenBSD wants only free distribution right of the binary files. That's all, they don't even want the right to modify the binary. Just to be able to distribute it like they do with so many other firmware files. Else you have to go download the file from somewhere else (how do you do that without a network connection) or OpenBSD has to sign an agreement that they won't since they would have to limit the way they distribute their software. Among other things, they would have to put you through a click t
    • (or read 2/3s of the thing before they actually see the word "wireless").

      Actually the topic is "Wireless Networking"
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:22AM (#10887643) Homepage
    "While I applaud the notion behind Freer distribution (as in speech) it's also highly probable that Intel doesn't have much ground make them freer - we've seen this before on machines like the HP nw8000; basically, the wireless stuff is owned by someone else, licensed by Intel."

    Is that supposed to be a sentence, or has Hemos been playing around with the Monkey / Shakespeare Simulator [tninet.se] again?

    • What are you talking about? That looks no worse than your typical Slashdot article. I mean come on, their titles as "editors" have always been a bit suspect at best.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Freer distribution (as in beer)"
      What is the term for other option? Freech (as in speech)?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:27AM (#10887681)
    Intel to speak to them, they are going to need a medium.
    • yeah, and his name is andrew jackson and he is of a new race called green.

      Seriously, there is not a large enough market force to open up the firmware.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It's not to 'open source' the firmware, it's to be able to [re]distribute the binary version. There's no harm in Intel doing that, just that someone's (be it Intel or whoever they contracted with) is clueless!
      • Seriously, there is not a large enough market force to open up the firmware.

        This is a very apt observation of you, and indeed correct. However, this is not what anybody is requesting. The firmware binary blob, which is downloadable via a stupid click-through license, is not being requested to be "opened". The request is that the binary blob's license be amended to be able to be redistributed by OSS projects. This is the same exact file that is freely available, legally, from Intel's site.

        One must ask wh
  • Howto fix. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:29AM (#10887702)
    The simple and most obvious solution to my mind is.

    a: Email in a polite manner an Intel representative, explaining that in light of their refusal to cooperate with a freer use of hardware you bought or would have bought that you will vote with your feet and use a competitor, who will comply with non-restrictive use.

    b: Then actually vote with your feet.

    I can't see, _how_ exactly Intel can't redistribute it's own firmware, under any license it likes. We could speculate as to some _evil_ empire requiring Intel to rescrictive agreements, but, I think that, the reality is, that a company the size of Intel, probably to a large extent has home grown products virtually everywhere.

    Base case Intel won't cooperate and won't give reasons for non cooperation, there is _no_ reason to ascribe any frustrated alutristic intentions on their part, by some external evil.

    Is there a link somewhere, for a list of cards which will work, with Free as in speech Operating systems?
    • But where do they go? One small aprt of this motherboard set isn't available, but the rest is better documented and supported in linux than ANY other chipset I know. Speaking as someone who still has a few raw nerves over an nvidia purchase, I have to say this is trivial. Compare the documentation intel provides on its chipsets to those provided by ANY other major manufacturer and intel looks mighty damn friendly to the OSS community.

      Vote with your feet? So you think it's a threat to say "well, rather than
    • b: Then actually vote with your feet.

      You want me to kick an Intel rep?
  • wireless, one must jump through some hoops to obtain firmware to use it with BSD.

    . It's not like it's unavailable.

    The referenced commentary relates the obvious solution for users who do not like this approach to distribution. "There is almost always choice".

    WHich bring up another angle. It's hardware. I doubt Intel has any 'obligations to others' as far as making a detailed description of the hardware workings available. This would allow someone to write GPL firmware.

    Or am I being naieve here?
    • No, it's not unavailable, but it does make it impossible to do a networked based install over one of the intel wireless cards.
    • Much as I'd like the debate to be about making GPL firmware, it isn't. The issue here is that OpenBSD cannot distribute the binaries of the uploadable firmware that's necessary to make the wireless functionality work. The license forbids it.

      You'll note how silly this is. The firmware only works on products Intel sells. Intel doesn't sell the firmware seperately. There is no loss to Intel, at all, for it to provide OpenBSD users with the firmware, and it'd increase sales for Intel.

      Hemos seems to think it

      • You'll note how silly this is. The firmware only works on products Intel sells. Intel doesn't sell the firmware seperately. There is no loss to Intel, at all, for it to provide OpenBSD users with the firmware, and it'd increase sales for Intel.

        since they are willing to allow it via a click-through license it seems this is the main concern with Intel is the loss of user-agreement to whatever clauses the license contains. i haven't seen their license but the usual licenses have clauses regarding reverse e
    • of course, intel is very nearly like microsoft.
      each has competition that they either don't
      like to acknowledge, or are willing to use
      whatever means necessary (FUD, IP, etc) in a
      vain attempt to maintain market share.

      intel's off-again/on-again stance regarding the
      inclusion of WiFi in their Centrino product does
      not inspire any longterm confidence in their
      commitments (just as with microsoft's commitment
      to data security). it is all about market share,
      and the quest for the almighty buck.

      what is really needed is
    • by runderwo (609077) * <`runderwo' `at' `mail.win.org'> on Monday November 22, 2004 @12:11PM (#10889192)
      WHich bring up another angle. It's hardware. I doubt Intel has any 'obligations to others' as far as making a detailed description of the hardware workings available. This would allow someone to write GPL firmware.
      You're being stupid. Even though that would be a good thing, if you would RTFA, that isn't what this is about. OpenBSD wants _freely distributable_ firmware, _not_ source code or anything else related to the firmware architecture.

      So, that sounds more reasonable. What could keep Intel from doing this?

      • Third party patent licenses restricting free distribution
      • Third party software licenses restricting free distribution on the derived binary code
      • Fear of hardware cloners "dropping in" the firmware and selling a knockoff product
      • etc...
      In short, there are a myriad of reasons why Intel would say no. If this is a problem for you, reverse the hardware and produce a free firmware, or make noise && vote with your feet.
      • Intel is a 1000 pound gorilla. If they told their vendor "our customers want a freely distributable binary firmware, the next contract will go to the vendor willing to meet that requirement", I'll bet (given the kind of volume market Intel represents) they would find their vendors most accomodating.

        It's not a very big legal risk anyway since most click-throughs don't require proof that the downloader is old enough to enter into a binding legal contract anyway. Tjhere's likely at least a few 15 year olds

  • by shic (309152) on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:35AM (#10887742)
    Part of me wants to back Theo arguing for distributable firmware - but another part of me feels that there is still a lot that can be achieved without requiring any re-licensing.

    I'm currently stuck trying to get my Alcatel/Thompson "Speedtouch 330" (Revision 4) ADSL modem to work under FreeBSD 5.3. Downloading the 'firmware' was a pain but much of that could have been resolved with some good documentation and an MD5 to verify the correct version. Even now I have the device recognised following the handbook doesn't get me connected... and offers precious little information about how to make appropriate configuration.

    I suppose the response might be that that OpenBSD would do this fine - though I chose FreeBSD as a result about concerns about OpenBSD support for the Atheros chipset in my Dlink DWL G520 PCI wireless net card (which is straightforward to configure in FreeBSD.) Aaaagh!
    • What concerns about Atheros were those? ath man page [openbsd.org]
      • Hmmm - that makes Atheros looks just as supported as in FreeBSD... My concerns (about a year ago) were that the only references to ATH in OpenBSD were messages suggesting that it wasn't supported - I didn't feel inclined to install it to check the manual pages.
        I don't suppose you can also tell me that OpenBSD can also solve my problems with my "Speedtouch 330 (Rev 4)" USB ADSL modem assuming an ISP demanding PPPoA? If I can solve my headaches with a change from FreeBSD to OpenBSD, I'd do that in an instant
        • Just a question: why did you buy the USB version? No offense, but you knew that it would make problems sooner or later when using alternate systems. I have an "Alcatel Speed Touch Home" (Ethernet version) and it has worked 100% fine since day one. (on OpenBSD)

          Yes, the saleman looked at me as if I was an idiot because I wanted the more expensive Ethernet version. Why not buy just USB? I will tell you: because the communication over USB is not standardized for such devices. The only USB devices you ca

          • I might have asked exactly the same question on Sunday when, after much effort I got as far as seeing /var/log/messages reporting "Where is the crappy modem?" (I'm not embellishing the colourful language!)

            In an attempt to explain my reasoning (which one might reasonably consider flawed) I decided to by a Speedtouch USB ADSL modem rather than an Ethernet one for several reasons:

            • I want to keep my LAN physically separate from internet traffic - I wanted to use BSD as a secure gateway to the net for my i
            • I'd love to hear from someone who has a Speedtouch 330 Rev4 modem working using PPPoA either on Free/Open BSD...

              I own a "Speedtouch 330 USB" rev. 2, I had it working on FreeBSD 4.10, and now on 5.3.
              It's (the open source driver) pain to install, and even after it's installed it doesn't perform well under pressure.
              If you run any P2P application or anything that puts heavy load on the connection (in terms of number of open connections) then be prepared for frequent disconnections, driver hanging, and a lo

        • No idea if it will solve your problem or not.

          However there has been traffic on the mailing lists about Speedtouch modems.

          IIRC there were speed related issues, but people were getting those things working in the 3.4 days.

          Take a search through the misc@ archives. You can get to the archives through the main OpenBSD site.
    • If the firmware for your DSL modem was licensed such that it could be freely redistributed, operating systems like OpenBSD and FreeBSD could include that firmware and save you the "pain" of downloading it. Good documentation doesn't cut it if it says 'go here and download this' and you say 'but I have no network connection.'
      • I can't fault the preference for redistributable firmware - that's obvious. However, we don't need any third party to change its behaviour to overcome my hassles... just clear, accurate descriptions (with MD5 sums where using 3rd party components) of the components themselves and their configuration.
        Downloading drivers is no hassle for me - and, I suspect, if the drivers worked painlessly and proved easily configured then the manufacturer would be happy to put the firmware on the CD distributed with the ha
    • "I'm currently stuck trying to get my Alcatel/Thompson "Speedtouch 330" (Revision 4) ADSL modem to work under FreeBSD 5.3."

      I struggled with that for a couple of months before biting the bullet and buying a wireless router. Probably not the most elegant solution, but it did the job.

      "Atheros chipset in my Dlink DWL G520 PCI wireless net card"

      And you're trying to connect up an Alcatel? You're either operating on the mother of all shoestrings or you have far too much time.
      • It is only a for-home system... the Speedtouch modem works fantastically under windows - and hell - all I want it to do is chuck packets at my ISP from my BSD box. As the handbook suggests just such a configuration - I'm sure you'll agree it shouldn't be a big problem to set up.
        I'd prefer not to use a "wireless router" as I want to use more advanced packet filtering and IPSEC encryptions which are easy with BSD. I like the conceptual simplicty of 1 ADSL adaptor; 1 Ethernet card; 1 wireless card. In order
        • "As the handbook suggests just such a configuration - I'm sure you'll agree it shouldn't be a big problem to set up."

          I followed the handbook to the letter and I got no joy. Then tried someone else's Howto. No joy.

          Essentially the ppp.log would be filled with 'unknown protocol', for which I couldn't find a decent explanation, so I chickened out and went for the path of least resistance in buying the router. Possibly not within the spirit of BSD, but I'd much rather fix stuff in my code than diagnose w
          • I can't argue with your pragmatism - and I guess I'd be far more inclined to take the same route if I started again now... like yourself I followed the handbook, then after that failed I tried other how-to documents... Ideally I'd like to see the handbook corrected so as not to misguide anyone else. I understand the concerns about performance - but to be honest performance isn't an issue for me... A reliable always-on cheap 28800 baud link would suit my needs...
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:36AM (#10887747) Homepage
    Ask nicely all you want and you're likely to be ignored. But let the buying public become a pain in the ass and they're likely to do something about it.

    While it's pretty obvious that the companies that use these chipsets are essentially helpless and cannot release the firmware code for public distribution, if people are enough of a pain in the ass, it will prevent them from using such hardware/firmware in the future. Don't quit complaining or they will read it as acceptance.
    • by Otter (3800) on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:43AM (#10887799) Journal
      But let the buying public become a pain in the ass and they're likely to do something about it.

      Sure. Unfortunately, from the point of view of the Centrino group (or laptop retailers), OpenBSD users don't even begin to approach the status of "the buying public".

    • Ask nicely all you want and you're likely to be ignored. But let the buying public become a pain in the ass and they're likely to do something about it.

      The "buying public" does not use BSD. They don't know what it is.

      This is a non-story. The stuff is out there for anyone to download. Big deal. Non-issue.

      This is one of the things people hate about FOSS fanatics: Sputtering and spitting and gesticulating about.... nothing.

      • This is something--if OpenBSD allows click-through EULAs during the install, then the result could be having to accept tens of licenses during the install phase of OpenBSD. In addition to an inconvenience, this presents a problem for diskless installs.

        All this "sputtering and spitting and gesticulating" is what brought us FOSS operating systems to begin with. If you don't like the politics, you're still welcome to use the software, which is provided for you at no charge.

        This is one thing I don't like ab

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:44AM (#10887810)
    "It took Intel about two weeks to come back and say that they cannot give us freer redistribution rights." [4th paragraph, first line.]

    http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=openbsd-misc&m=109 994542424009&w=2 [theaimsgroup.com]
  • Effective advocacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kfg (145172) on Monday November 22, 2004 @09:46AM (#10887831)
    Some of our most vocal proponents, such as ESR, RMS, and Linus, have somewhat taken on this responsibility, but even they are flamed and criticized.

    Holding our most vocal proponents to be above criticism is an example of exactly the sort of mindless zealotry that epitomizes bad advocacy.

    They should not, of course, be flamed, but critcised with professional politness where they are deserving of it, and everyone is deserving of it at one time or another.

    When Neils Bohr went to Los Alamos during the Manhatten Project he spent a lot of time talking to Feynman, who, at the time, was a pretty minor figure who hadn't even finished his doctorate work yet.

    Why? Because he was the only one there unafraid to forthrightly tell the Great One his ideas were stupid when they were.

    Good leaders like that sort of thing. It makes their own advocay stronger. Only bad leaders hold themselves as above admission of error.

    Yeah, I see the idea that Joe was driving at here, but he needs to go back rework that bit, as it came out very, very wrong, suggesting that we should all show a mindless unity when it comes to our public front

    There's a word for that: zealotry.

    And it's all about free as in speech, isn't it?

    Besides, from what I've seen, Linus, ESR and RMS are well able to stand up for themselves, and rather entertaining while they do it, even if you disagree with them on some point or other.

    KFG
    • by Anonymous Coward
      RMS and Linus are one thing, but does ESR really deserve polite and professional criticism?

      Seriously. This is a person who links to Steven Milloy's "junk science" page from his personal home page [catb.org]. He's also a rabid pro-war advocate [catb.org] who certainly doesn't address people who disagree with him in any professional or respectful manner. I doubt he'd get much positive publicity on slashdot if people had actually read what he writes.
      • RMS and Linus are one thing, but does ESR really deserve polite and professional criticism?

        Yes.

        This is a person who links to Steven Milloy's "junk science" page from his personal home page.

        If I had a personal home page I might well link to Steve Milloy's "Junk Science" page. I dislike Mr. Milloy. I dislike his politics. I dislike his manner. I also dislike "Junk Science" and Mr. Milloy is often right. When and where I feel he is not I would feel free to politely and professionally critcise his views.
    • Some of our most vocal proponents, such as ESR, RMS, and Linus, have somewhat taken on this responsibility, but even they are flamed and criticized.

      What are you talking about as a responsibility? And where, exactly, can I find an example of RMS advocating for people to spread copies of non-free software to make wireless devices work more conveniently?

      • What are you talking about as a responsibility?

        I'm not talking about anything. That's a quote from the linked article on effective advocacy. I am criticising said article.

        And where, exactly, can I find an example of RMS advocating for people to spread copies of non-free software to make wireless devices work more conveniently?

        Did you read my actual post?

        KFG
        • Yes, and it struck me as unclearly worded because it's natural to advocate for a particular purpose. Hence, asking about where RMS was advocating for the overall point of this thread: OpenBSD developers want to be able to share verbatim copies of non-free wireless card software so as to make wireless device use more convenient.
  • Let the /.-ing begin (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shm (235766)
    "Most users ever online was 469, 12 Minutes Ago at 10:32."

    So 24 comments, and 469 blokes actually RTFA.

  • The point right now is not, "will Intel do the Right Thing", since they probably have agreed not to, but will Intel (and others) see a benefit in working to change that situation, both in present circumstances and in future contract negotiations? People who want a more open firmware environment probably won't get what they want today, but we need to see if we can get some of the Big Boys to see profit in making it happen tomorrow.
  • There is choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by macemoneta (154740) on Monday November 22, 2004 @10:37AM (#10888262) Homepage
    Vendors that are OEMing components have a choice of components, just as consumers have a choice of vendor. If there is sufficient backlash against a component choice that limits consumers' ability to use the products they purchase, vendors will begin to select more "open" component manufacturers.

    No matter what your choice of OS, this is a good thing. It prevents the premature obsolescence caused by vendors dropping support after a few months - I've seen this happen in Windows XP and MacOS. While this situation may prevent a Linux user from purchasing and using a given product, it also makes other OS users subject to abandonment.

    Consumer protection groups are apparently powerless to protect consumers from this type of fraud, at least for now. The best thing we as technically informed individuals can do it make sure that the word gets out on products in this category.

    If the products are not attractive to consumers because of their limited support life or OS choice restrictions, then vendors will put pressure on the supply channel to change the status quo.

  • Why ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rainer_d (115765) on Monday November 22, 2004 @10:42AM (#10888307) Homepage
    > basically, the wireless stuff is owned by someone
    > else, licensed by Intel.

    That's your guess - but Intel declined to comment on that.
    IMO, that's really too much BS'ing for such a little piece of code.
    The reason why someone might want to include the firmware in the distribution is (perhaps) to allow network-installs via wireless.
    If you're only net-connection is via a wireless nic, you can't go to some website and download it first....

    Rainer
  • How about scantily-clad geek-girls on Times Square and other popular public places with the 'Open Firmware!' written on their panties?..

    No? Ah, well, just a thought...

  • Get a number of OSS organizations/communities together, and apprach all the mainstream wireless vendors with an offer for free advertising and/or status as the 'recommended' or even 'official' wireless vendor/brand for that organization/community to the first vendor to *fully* open their hardware and provide full free distribution rights to all required components/firmware/whatever. I'm sure there are at least some vendors who would be pleased as punch to have places like slashdot recommending them.
    • We need an opensouce friendly organization to put an "OSS friendly" or "OSS compatible" sticker on unencumbered hardware. If you're digging through the shelf at Frys, and you see such a badge, which product are you going to buy?

      If part makers face pressure from Microsoft, all they have to do is change the part number to something unique.

      If Intel won't play ball, then maybe its time for AMD to re-enter the network products market. Think of the goodwill they'd be buying themselves.
  • Simple solution for me - I'm just not going to buy Intel wireless products. Fortunately it's a big enough market that it's fairly easy not to care about them. In my own little world I can pretend my purchasing power actually means something to a giant, multinational corporation.
  • While I applaud the notion behind Freer distribution

    But is that freer as in freer breer or freer as in freer spreech?

    (as in beer)

    Oh, I see. But isn't the firmware available at no charge, but with a restrictive click-through? Doesn't that make it a free as in speech problem?

  • Fortunately, you don't need flowery prose or concise diction to be an effective advocate for change. In fact, you don't even need to be able to speak or write in English or any other language. All you need to do is keep your wallet in your pocket: if you buy a product that needs firmware, and it's not available on terms you can accept, you are part of the problem. Like it or not, once you buy a product, you have no further influence on its maker. They've got your money and they really don't care what yo
    • by runderwo (609077) * <`runderwo' `at' `mail.win.org'> on Monday November 22, 2004 @12:16PM (#10889254)
      All you need to do is keep your wallet in your pocket
      That's a nice sentiment, but it's only part of the picture. If you do that, then the company doesn't even know that you were a potential customer, so nothing has been lost to them from their perspective.

      The best approach is to keep your wallet in your pocket or buy from a competitor, and then contact a human at the company that you didn't buy from and give them a detailed explanation why you chose their competitor instead. This way you actually get attention, because from their perspective the sale came straight out of their pocket into a competitor's. If they won't listen to that sort of reasoning, they're going to sink anyway.

  • by barrkel (806779) on Monday November 22, 2004 @01:07PM (#10889804) Homepage
    Chances are high that there's a criss-crossing web of cross-licensed patents which prevents second-order licensing (i.e. making the "thing" - in this case firmware) freely available to people who want to make it freely available - recursively.

    As an aside, I imagine that's going to be a strategy that Microsoft is going to use in the future to fight Linux.
  • by lakeland (218447) <lakeland@acm.org> on Monday November 22, 2004 @01:29PM (#10889974) Homepage
    You know, we've all heard it: Sorry, your ATI card cannot run X accelerated on your computer, and the svideo port is just a lump of metal because we licenced that technology from someone else and cannot redistribute it, even though our drivers won't work in your computer. Sorry, your nvidia card won't work in the latest kernel and would be useless to any kernel developer, because we licenced that technology from someone else and cannot redistribute it...

    I'm sure I could go on, but you get the point. Imagine going out for dinner and it makes you sick because it has *shrug* powdered peanuts in it. Next time, you ask for no peanuts, only to be told "Sorry, we licenced this recipe from somebody else and do not have permission to vary it, even though the current version is useless to you". There is no way you would put up with that, at the least you would walk out.

    Yet for some reason in IT we accept that excuse as if nvidia hadn't just negotiated the contract that does not permit them to redistribute only weeks beforehand. Nvidia, ATI and intel are only getting away with this excuse because we tolerate it. If we instead refuse to buy the products then you can bet the next time they negotiate licencing, all the problems disappear.

    You might think we are a too small group to make a difference in this regard, but you'd be wrong. You would be right that few people use linux, and even fewer user OpenBSD, but what propotion of those people have strong influence over large IT budgets? Viewed in terms of dollars controlled instead of products sold and suddenly you're talking much bigger bikkies.
    • Yet for some reason in IT we accept that excuse ... If we instead refuse to buy the products then you can bet the next time they negotiate licencing, all the problems disappear.

      It already works this way. Just look at the low value and reputation of Winmodems. You can't sell one of those for more than ten buck. If something won't spin up and work with Knoppix, I don't want it. Sure, I can ignore some non working hardware if there's a way to fix it, but the research is a drag and the value is substantial

    • I would be quite happy to buy my video cards from a company that is Open Source friendly... if there was such a company. Unfortunately, there is not.

      Matrox has gone the binary-only route with their latest video cards, and SiS isn't any more open-source friendly with their video cards than anyone else. All of them have to be reverse engineered, or you have to accept their binary drivers.

      If you know of a company making half decent video cards, and releasing specs or open source drivers, fill us all in.
      • You're 100% right. I expect matrox was closely watching nivida and when it didn't backfire for them...

        I am not sure who is the most open nowadays. Perhaps ATI -- at least you can get something approximating 3D acceleration from them :-(
        • Arguing whether ATI or NVidia is less unfriendly is like arguing over which large wild animal you'd rather be mauled by... It's pretty pointless.

          ATI is only very slightly better on the open-source driver front, while NVidia's binary Linux drivers are much better than ATI's binaries. Plus, NVidia's binary drivers work on FreeBSD/NetBSD.

          It's a complete toss-up, if you ask me. Best to complain loudly to both of them, until one of them budge,s and actually gives up some public docs.
  • by ddent (166525) on Monday November 22, 2004 @05:42PM (#10892644) Homepage
    "Hardware met Software on the road to Changtse. Software said: ``You are Yin and I am Yang. If we travel together we will become famous and earn vast sums of money.'' And so the set forth together, thinking to conquer the world.

    Presently they met Firmware, who was dressed in tattered rags and hobbled along propped on a thorny stick. Firmware said to them: ``The Tao lies beyond Yin and Yang. It is silent and still as a pool of water. It does not seek fame, therefore nobody knows its presence. It does not seek fortune, for it is complete within itself. It exists beyond space and time.''

    Software and Hardware, ashamed, returned to their homes.
    "
    (Credit: Tao of Programming [canonical.org])
  • boo-hoo? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pandaemonium (70120)
    "...we've seen this before on machines like the HP nw8000.."

    Picking on the NW8000 is poor. At least with the HP commercial notebooks, you can CHOOSE either the Intel or the Atheros MiniPCI cards.

    To set the record straight, Centrino is a brand that's applied when a notebook has three things:
    1. Intel Pentium-M
    2. Intel Chipset
    3. Intel PRO2100/2200 Wireless

    That's Centrino. The NW8000 uses a MiniPCI slot, just like a lot of other notebooks. HP offers the option to go with the Intel cards, or with Atheros a/b/

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