[sf-lug] "Educating Tux: case studies of Linux...and "Purity"
rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Mar 11 21:55:59 PDT 2008
Quoting Sameer Verma (sverma at sfsu.edu):
> Ah, but what about the BIOS?
Ah, there's always _someone_ who asks that.
Strictly speaking, there was a non-free program in that computer:
the BIOS. But that was impossible to replace, and by the same
token, it didn't count. [...]
The ethical issues of free software arise because users obtain
programs and install them in computers; they don't really apply to
hidden embedded computers, or the BIOS burned in a ROM, or the
microcode inside a processor chip, or the firmware that is wired
into a processor in an I/O device. In aspects that relate to their
design, those things are software; but as regards copying and
modification, they may as well be hardware. The BIOS in ROM was,
indeed, not a problem.
Article has more, about how, despite the above considerations, the
situation has recently changed at least a _little_ bit -- and about why
there are thus now serious efforts towards developing full-featured
free-software BIOS programs, in part in order to safeguard against
forced Digital Restrictions Management in hardware.
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