> These firmware blobs aren't software, as others have noted a significant number of them aren't
> even code!
They *are* software, and not having the source *is* a problem. Take 802.11 adapters, for
instance. Some of the proprietary firmware blobs (that run on the devices' embedded CPU, not on
the main CPU) are less functional than the hardware allows. For example, it might not support
base station mode, when the hardware is perfectly capable of doing so.
Obviously, being able to modify the code to add that feature is of great value.
But I agree with the rest of what you say: the way to get there *certainly* isn't to prefer hardware
that has the firmware stuck in Flash/ROM rather than uploaded at boot.
Again, if someone makes a linux distribution that only works on hardware not containing
proprietary code already on the device *or* loaded at boot, that might be interesting.