about "put it in ROM"
Posted Oct 18, 2006 11:27 UTC (Wed) by coriordan
In reply to: safety-critical systems can use ROM
Parent article: FSF should separate GPLv3 changes (Linux.com)
Why does "put it in ROM" increase freedom?
Currently, there are three options:
- Give people free software without restrictions
- Give people free software without the freedom to run modified versions
- Burn free software into ROM
If hardware distributors have all three options, they might often go for option #2 because it allows them to lock out the user without limiting their ability to control the user's computer. If option #2 is taken away, then locking out the user will come with the cost of also locking themselves out.
Option #1 would be far preferable, and sometimes option #3 would be offensive, but presenting options #1 and #3 will yield more #1s than presenting options #1, #2, and #3 - which could yield a lot of #2s.
For genuine cases, such as setting the radio strength on a wifi card, manufacturers might put that bit of the driver in ROM. If there is no cost to them, then manufacturers will DRM the entire driver (instead of just the radio strength bit), and will tell the free software community "Sorry, we're complying with regulations".
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