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Update On OpenBSD Firmware Activism

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the more-then-one-side-to-a-story dept.

Wireless Networking 134

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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Classic, with a twist? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887591)

Netcraft confirms it.. intel's email server is dying.
-r

oops (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887594)

primo mail?

Get it over with... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887596)

Netcraft confirms it, BSD is dying!

What firmware exactly? (5, Insightful)

Cutriss (262920) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887602)

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").

Re:What firmware exactly? (3, Funny)

linuxci (3530) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887635)

Come on... that'd make the article slightly useful to the readers and therefore might risk an increase in useful and informative comments.

Re:What firmware exactly? (0, Troll)

strict3 (827367) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887668)

And maybe, just maybe, read through the post before putting it on the front page of slashdot. Hemos needs to go back to third grade to learn how to correctly form a sentence.

Re:What firmware exactly? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10888240)

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).

Re:Centrino platform or brand? (1)

183771 (572184) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889885)

I would argue that Centrino is a commercial brand introduced by Intel to:
a) improve Intel wireless capabilities in their laptops
b) sell more notebooks
c) confuse customers
d) let me to write this comment on Slashot :-)
Choose your option.

Check atheros paper about this topic: Centrino vs Pentium [atheros.com] or this other page En qué consiste exactamente la tecnología Centrino? [zaragozawireless.org]

Re:What firmware exactly? (1)

tajmorton (806296) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888599)

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 loaded into the device, drivers control the device from the computer. Firmware is like a replacement for a chip...

Re:What firmware exactly? (2, Informative)

baldusi (139651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888841)

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 through license when installing OpenBSD!!!!

Re:What firmware exactly? (1)

anpe (217106) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889214)

(or read 2/3s of the thing before they actually see the word "wireless").

Actually the topic is "Wireless Networking"

Oblig quote... (-1, Redundant)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887621)

"Wait, I thought BSD was dead?"

Don't cut Intel any slack... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887642)

Intel doesn't deserve to be cut any slack for not letting the firmware be redistributed just because their supplier has them by the balls in a licensing agreement. If they won't make the firmware available but someone else will, screw Intel.

Amonkeysayshuh? (5, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887643)

"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?

Re:Amonkeysayshuh? (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888016)

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.

Re:Amonkeysayshuh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10888063)

Thanks for the Java warning, knob-jockey.

Re:Amonkeysayshuh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10888119)

"Freer distribution (as in beer)"
What is the term for other option? Freech (as in speech)?

Re:Amonkeysayshuh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10889959)

No, it's "French (as in Freedom)"...

If the BSD people want... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887681)

Intel to speak to them, they are going to need a medium.

Re:If the BSD people want... (2, Insightful)

DaEMoN128 (694605) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887701)

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.

Re:If the BSD people want... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887819)

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!

Re:If the BSD people want... (2)

IBeatUpNerds (827376) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889758)

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 what the hell the big deal is. The file's already available, why can't we redistribute it under a relatively free license such that these devices work out of the box without their users going through ridiculous gyrations just to make them function?

Again, nobody is asking for the schematics of the DSP and how to code firmware for it. We just want the already available blob to be freely redistributable, binary only.

Re:If the BSD people want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887874)

Why? Intel isn't dead (yet)

Howto fix. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Re:Howto fix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10889251)

I think that, the reality is, that a company the size of Intel, probably to a large extent has home grown products virtually everywhere. The wireless component of the Centrino set *is* licensed by Intel, it isn't an in-house development.

I hear feetsteps... (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 9 years ago | (#10890374)

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 click on your wireless license I'll just go BUY a different wireless card to go in this laptop?" Or are you talking about buying a laptop NOT based on an intel chipset?

If that were the case, I'd say it's going to be much harder to vote with those feet after you've shot them off.

As a consequence of purchasing intel (2, Interesting)

Sai Babu (827212) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887712)

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?

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887780)

It is official; Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887823)

Dengai ra pooka. Burra leda bhadcow.

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887796)

You're being ignorant here. Nobody is asking for GPL firmware, which would be useless to OpenBSD anyway.
What the activism was/is about is having _redistributable_ firmware, binary or not. Nothing to do with giving away trade secrets.

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (1)

Sai Babu (827212) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888504)

While I may be ignorant (not knowing, hence why I allowed that my comments may be naieve) that is not the same as "being ignorant".

Why would GPL firmware be useless to BSD?
Firmware goes with the hardware, not the OS.
How does a GPL piece of code 'contaminate' other code through it's interface?.
Do I have misunderstand the GPL?

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889877)

OpenBSD needs the firmware included with the OS in this case because of Intel's cheap hardware. This chipset doesn't have true firmware-- meaning that you can't flash the software to ROM and have it stay resident between reboots. What happens is that the driver loads the firmware binary to the card which enables the card to run. Apparently there are some advantages to having software running on the hardware, otherwise I think this would have just been included in Intel's driver itself, but if I understand correctly, the reason for having the driver load the firmware is cost-related. Flash ROMs cost more.

As for GPL contamination, I don't think the BSD developers want GPL code in their tree. It makes the OS less free, since BSD has fewer restrictions on distribution (you can modify and sell BSD-licensed stuff).

But this story has nothing to do with GPL'ed code. The issue is that Intel will not let the BSD folks redistribute their firmware. This is a chunk of binary, not source code, so Intel has nothing to lose-- the BSD folks don't know anything more about the chipset's inner workings than they did before. Intel gains by having a larger userbase, since the firmware would come pre-loaded with the OS.

The decision is pretty simple for me: I won't buy Intel wireless chipsets. There are already alternatives out there anyhow.

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (2, Informative)

jdew (644405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887818)

No, it's not unavailable, but it does make it impossible to do a networked based install over one of the intel wireless cards.

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (2, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887847)

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 may be that the firmware has been written by a third party. What I'd like to know is - if this is true - what idiot at Intel negotiated licensing that firmware while severely restricting how the firmware could be distributed to end users of Intel products.

An alternative to Intel? (1)

quarkscat (697644) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888074)

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 a F/OSS project dedicated
to hardware that the commercial vendors consider
too valuable as IP to make available. the ready
availability of hybrid analog/digital chip cores,
as well as the very capable current gen FPGAs,
the two biggest sore points for F/OSS support
could eventually be open source -- video and
WiFi should be the initial targets, IMHO.

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10888788)

wireless, one must jump through some hoops to obtain firmware to use it with BSD.

Is that even a sentence? I hate when people run the subject into the comment... moron.

Re:As a consequence of purchasing intel (3, Insightful)

runderwo (609077) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

BSD is dying (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887728)

Why do you care.

Activism or documentation? (3, Interesting)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#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!

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

jdew (644405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887792)

What concerns about Atheros were those? ath man page [openbsd.org]

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887988)

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.

Re:Activism or documentation? (2, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888499)

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 can trust are HID and Mass Storage. Anything else and sooner or later you are on yourself: with USB, it might be that your device is not going to be supported in the next version of Windows. (Who still have a parallel-port scanner that refuses to run on Win2000 or WinXP? Similar issues.) Ethernet is pretty much going to be supported everywhere.
Go with the more expensive and compatible hardware, if you know that you are going to run an alternate OS.

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889670)

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 insecure LAN - I didn't particularly want to install 2 Ethernet cards for the server PC either - and an entire router connected to only one host seems pointless.
  • According to the BSD handbook the Alcatel (AKA Thompson) "Speedtouch USB" ADSL modem was supported. Only later did I realise they were talking about a specific Speedtouch model (and not any Speedtouch with a USB interface.)
  • The modem was used initially from a Windows box - and the USB modem performed wonderfully in that configuration.

So far I've discovered that the "Alcatel Speedtouch USB" modem isn't the same as a "Speedtouch 330 USB" modem - and, of the latter, the silver ones are "Rev 4" and need different firmware to that documented in most howto documents. I've not established why I can't establish a PPPoA connection using it.... Nor why the FreeBSD handbook seems to assume I'm using an Ethernet device (judging from the sample configuration) right under a heading specifying USB. I'd love to hear from someone who has a Speedtouch 330 Rev4 modem working using PPPoA either on Free/Open BSD... especially if they will share the specific details of their working configuration... all the documents I can find seem to be contradictory or assume that my USB modem transmogrifies into an IP addressable device.

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

jdew (644405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889776)

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.

Re:Activism or documentation? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10888251)

How are you going to download anything if the device doesn't run because you don't have the firmware to download the firmware?

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888290)

An amusing chicken and egg quandary for sure - but not a serious concern for most BSD/Linux users who usually have at least occasional access to another internet connected PC. I'd say misleading or missing documentation is a bigger issue - I certainly can't download firmware if I don't know which firmware I should be downloading!

Re:Activism or documentation? (2, Informative)

Mr.Ned (79679) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888289)

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.'

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888371)

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 hardware. Redistributable would be best but I'd be happiest if we addressed the OSS system first in order that the only problem is redistribution of the firmware (which seems a relatively minor inconvenience right now.)

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

Oddly_Drac (625066) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888781)

"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.

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889033)

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 to achieve a comparable level of security but avoiding dedicated ADSL modems - I'd need a second ethernet card and an ADSL router (from which I'd use precious little functionality) as I really want my LAN insulated from the ADSL link by a gateway machine.
My budget isn't all that shoestring - but I'm loathed to spash out on new kit when I already own something that works perfectly well for my purposes. Obviously a commercial solution would be to buy in a working solution... but this isn't a commercial project.

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

Oddly_Drac (625066) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889480)

"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 what was happening with PPP in something that should be trivial.

"In order to achieve a comparable level of security but avoiding dedicated ADSL modems"

The Alcatel is the lowest of the low. Apart from the fact that you're loading the firmware up every time you power the thing on, you're sitting off the USB bus. To each their own, though.

"but I'm loathed to spash out on new kit"

40 spondoolicks gets a very good little modem with firewall, VPN, routing. Another 20 spons and you get 54Mbps. Like I said, I chickened out.

"I really want my LAN insulated from the ADSL link by a gateway machine."

You could dual-home, certainly your plan appears to use the one machine as a bastion host, AP and router...

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889868)

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...

Re:Activism or documentation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10889471)

In some wireless devices (I'm not sure about these particular ones), the reason why the interface can't be completely documented (so that people could write their own firmware) is that it could be programmed to violate FCC regulations and other similar restrictions that must be met for the hardware to be legal to sell.

Re:Activism or documentation? (1)

shic (309152) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889975)

Plausible... but that doesn't explain why it is better that I have to blindly fumble for a working firmware where an OSS project could simply give me an MD5 to verify.

Re:Activism or documentation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10890281)

I hate those fucking modems. Telefonica (Spain) hands those things out like candy, because half of them don't even work out of the box.

Constant complaining counts! (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887747)

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.

Re:Constant complaining counts! (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887799)

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".

Re:Constant complaining counts! (1)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 9 years ago | (#10890749)

Just because it's being led by the OpenBSD team, doesn't mean it won't benefit {Free,Net,Dragonfly,*}BSD, Linux, etc too. That's kind of the entire point...

Re:Constant complaining counts! (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888415)

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.

Re:Constant complaining counts! (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889110)

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 about anti-FOSS fanatics--they think that just because a certain freedom or issue is not important to them, those who care obviously have their priorities out of whack.

Not because it's licensed by someone else... (-1)

Zapman (2662) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887757)

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

Intel can't make them more free, not because of licences from other people, but because of the law. These devices are general purpose RF transmitters. Arbitrary frequencies, listen to anything, etc.

The FCC has mandated that only certain spectrums can be used by non-licensed individuals. Some others can be used by licenseed individuals. Some can only be used by the police, etc.

Intel knows what would happen if the firmware was given to OSS community. Someone, somewhere would think a general purpose RF transmiter/reciever would be cool, and make it. And it's 100% illegal.

You can argue that it SHOULDN'T be illegal, but Intel is following the law, and generally shouldn't be faulted for that.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1)

mr_walrus (410770) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887774)

if "the law" were the case Intel would be quick to SAY SO and thus
letting themselves off the hook completely.
they are being way to elusive about why they wont do it.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1)

a24061 (703202) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887778)

Someone, somewhere would think a general purpose RF transmiter/reciever would be cool, and make it. And it's 100% illegal.

And it would the fault of that someone. You can also build RF equipment with resistors, transistors, etc., but we don't blame the suppliers.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (5, Informative)

emmavl (202243) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887788)

They are NOT asking to open source the driver(s), but to allow free redistribution of the binary firmware.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887821)

Please mod this up. The BSD team only wants the binary firmware to be freed, not the source, so it can be distributed with the rest of the *BSD system. The firmware is loaded to the hardware every time it's restarted in order for it to work. No one wants the source code for it; it's not needed.

All of this mess for scraping a couple of bucks on an onboard EEPROM, but still, Intel's position doesn't seem reasonable.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887802)

Bullshit.

What they are basically not satisfied with is that the firmware is not available under freely redistributable terms. It is not illegal to redistribute a binary firmware under a freely redistributable license.

What the hell is wrong with giving a freely redistributable binary only firmware to the OSS community so that they can use a open source driver?

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1)

beuges (613130) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887817)

well yes, but if you've got a 802.11g wireless device, that device is only meant to operate on a specific frequency range, and nothing more. why not restrict the range in hardware instead of software, and then there's no need for keeping the firmware under wraps, because there's no way of creating a general purpose RF transmitter/receiver using the firmware?

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1)

lowe0 (136140) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888100)

Cost. It's cheaper to do as much as possible in software. No manufacturing cost, and no disposition when you design a new version.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10889931)

because the laws restricting the use on specific frequencies are different in other countries.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887826)

Dude, did you even understand the thing, this is slashdot I am asking too much. No one asked intel to opensource anything, they just asked for a more flexible way of distributing FIRMWARE.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887906)

The Slashdot writeup is, once again, very misleading. It specifically mentioned free as in speech. If I hadn't already learned about the story from other sources, I too would conclude that they wanted something open-sourced. However, all the OpenBSD project wants is that it be freely redistributable. That isn't free as in speech at all.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887827)

> Intel knows what would happen if the firmware was given to OSS community. Someone, somewhere would think a general purpose RF transmiter/reciever would be cool, and make it.

Nonsense. Nothing prevent you to get those firmware *now* (in fact, you are required to get them to make your device work, and intel don't prevent you to do this, but you have to click 'I Agree' ). What theo wants is the right to distribute them, the right to make OpenBSD work out-of-the-box with intel chipsets.

Of course, some big player, with a name starting with 'M' and ending in 't' happens to have a lot of leverage on intel, and don't want free OSes to easily work out-of-the-box on any hardware.

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1)

stinkpad (810024) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887876)

The FCC has mandated that only certain spectrums can be used by non-licensed individuals. Which only applies within the U.S.A. Other countries = other rules. Someone in a country ( where it is allowed ) will eventually reverse engineer stuff like this, and then the cat will be out of the bag anyway, and Intel ends up only looking like an asshole.

Sorry, but it's not the FCC .. (2, Interesting)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888179)

Wow ... I can't believe I'm actually giving the FCC a free pass...

The FCC somehow exerting some pressure has nothing to do with this.

The FCC does not prohibit the sale of devices. What they do prohibit is using the devices in a disruptive way.

It is perfectly legal for Intel to sell and give away the firmware. They are just bullshitting for various reasons.

It's much like P2P in a way. It's not illegal to make it, but some uses of it are prohibited (not that I agree)

Re:Not because it's licensed by someone else... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888388)

Then they should make sure the hardware itself is not capable of monitoring illegal frequencies. Someone could reverse engineer the existing drivers to modify the behavior

But Hey! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10887765)

It is official; Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

RTFA - just wants distribution rights NOT SOURCE! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#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

Re:Effective advocacy (-1, Offtopic)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889156)

I really wonder how many people here lack the critical thinking skills to determine that this post isn't anti-FOSS.

I see you got modded as insightful--but I bet with a higher UID and the right moderator this post could easily go south.

Re:Effective advocacy (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10890477)

Where people pretend to be twice as smart as they really are by behaving like children.

Well, yeah, but that's just the way children act when they're trying to be "adult and sophisticated."

Ironic, in'nit?

KFG

Re:Effective advocacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10889569)

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.

Re:Effective advocacy (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10890382)

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.

I have a Henry Clay cigar sitting here on my desk at the moment. Henry Clay said "I'd rather be right than President." I'm with Mr. Clay on this one (although I am agin 'im, and feel free to be, on a number of other issues). I am not going to allow someone else's political dogma get in the way of being right and will agree with people on specific points who I otherwise disagree with, and disagree with people on specific points that I otherwise agree with.

Then there is the fact that "He links to Steve Milloy" is not an argument, although in context you clearly seem to not only think it is, but also an argument that somehow settles some matter or other. It is a form of character attack (but then questioning his character seems to be the only point of your post) which also begs the question, since you simply sidestep the issue of what Mr. Raymond thinks to what Mr. Milloy thinks, without ever critically addressing what Mr. Milloy thinks.

You have not made a single point in refutation of a single point of Mr. Raymond. In fact, your post epitomizes the very sort of post that Mr. Shaw was refering, and taking objection, to, and to that extent I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Shaw.

He's also a rabid pro-war advocate . . .

Q.E.D. "His views are different than mine, and that clears up the critical matter."

In what way do you disagree with him, and what is your reasoning for doing so? Rather than fling vague insults (I am infering that you yourself consider calling someone a "rabid pro-war advocate" an insult from context. You can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

He has publicly published a point of view. In the document you link to he has made the task of rebutting him easier by actually itemizing his statements. He has done all the work of building a proper framework for disputation. All you have to do is pick a prelabeled point and offer your counter.

Until you do so you haven't said anything beyond a personal attack.

. . .who certainly doesn't address people who disagree with him in any professional or respectful manner.

"He hit me. I think hitting people is wrong. So I hit him."

Oooooooooook.

In any case I do not hold to the current fashion that either polite or professional is synonymous with having a stick up your butt. One can be polite and professional and still get "down and dirty."

"Your idea is stupid," is a perfectly acceptable statement in a debate (although you better be prepared to back it up with a "because,. . .).

"You are stupid," is not.

You, however, have played a bit of a trick by changing the parameters of the discussion, replacing "polite" with "respectful". I never said a damned thing about respectful, nor do I see that word used in Mr. Shaw's essay. It is not synonomous with "polite."

I doubt he'd get much positive publicity on slashdot if people had actually read what he writes.

Well, I've been around here for some years, and I can't say I've noted he gets much positive publicity, mostly it seems he gets a lot of posts "telling him hundreds of different places to stick it." The very cause of Mr. Shaw's essay in the first place.

Mostly from people who obvioulsy haven't actually read what he writes.

I disagree with Mr. Raymond on a good many things (and agree with him on a good many as well). I know this because I have read him extensively (even his book reviews).

This fact is important because it gives me a valid base for offering criticism on his points without simply devolving to "Yeah, well, he links to Steve Milloy."

I might, for instance, point out to Mr. Raymond that implying people who disagree with him are idiots isn't the right way to go about things.

But then none of this has anything to do with his views on FOSS, does it?

I am a vegetarian. I have my reasons for being so. Some very, very bad people are/have been vegetarians. I don't believe in sympathetic magic. Their badness does not "rub off on" vegetarianism or have any relevance to my own reasons for being so.

They just might, I know it's hard to fathom, be both bad and right.

And I'd rather be right than President.

KFG

Perhaps RMS was a bad example here. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 9 years ago | (#10890804)

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?

Let the /.-ing begin (3, Interesting)

shm (235766) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887838)

"Most users ever online was 469, 12 Minutes Ago at 10:32."

So 24 comments, and 469 blokes actually RTFA.

The point (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 9 years ago | (#10887975)

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.

What ever happened to the open hardware movement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10888014)

Lets really give big bro' a wedgie and rev up the open hardware movement again. He'll be so frantic to squash that, he won't have time to wage disinformation wars against open source! heh

Raise your level of consciousness -- become aware of disinformation campaigns being waged through the media and the internet: http://www.uspoliticsonline.com/forums/showthread. php?p=210686#post210686 [uspoliticsonline.com] .

Freer distribution (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10888092)

Who is this Freer you speak of?

There is choice (3, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888262)

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 ? (2, Interesting)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888307)

> 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

PETA's and Democratic activists' method? (2, Funny)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888332)

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...

Re:PETA's and Democratic activists' method? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 9 years ago | (#10890818)

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

I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Heres an idea (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888374)

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.

personal boycott (1)

vinn (4370) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888537)

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.

Freer? (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888713)

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?

How to be an effective advocate (1)

The Man (684) | more than 9 years ago | (#10888764)

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 you think. Do the smart thing: don't buy it.

Re:How to be an effective advocate (4, Insightful)

runderwo (609077) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Crosslicensed patents (3, Insightful)

barrkel (806779) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889804)

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.

I'm tired of the "Some else's property" reply (4, Insightful)

lakeland (218447) | more than 9 years ago | (#10889974)

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.

It's no more accepted than Winmodems. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 9 years ago | (#10890838)

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 substantially lower to me. The development of working free drivers is a risk so I consider non free hardware disposable junk and tell people so.

I tell my Windoze using friends to avoid hardware like that if they care about keeping the thing longer than Microsoft's two year upgrade cycle. Their risk is compounded and much higher. If there is zero chance of them switching to free software, there's about zero chance they will consider the hardware usable in two years. It's worth is reduced to toilet paper, just like that. Most people have been the victims of the upgrade cycle by now and know what I'm talking about.

Every way, the hardware maker loses. Some people don't mind spending money on disposable hardware, but they are a decided minority. Worse for the hardware maker, these people put significant downward pressure on the price of new hardware by throwing away old stuff that people like me can use with a few awkward work arounds. I'll take and use broken equipment if the price is right. Most people don't want to spend a thousand dollars on something that won't work in two years and they are very angry at hardware makers for this kind of thing. Hardware makers that get a junk reputation suffer.

If Intel wants to make their wireless the next Winmodem, they will lose.

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