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Re: Intel policy wrt OSS [was: Re: src]

From:  Theo de Raadt <>
To:  "Damien Bergamini" <>
Subject:  Re: Intel policy wrt OSS [was: Re: src]
Date:  Sat, 30 Sep 2006 03:03:57 -0600
Archive-link:  Article, Thread

Regarding Intel wireless chips and distribution rights...

> From: "Damien Bergamini" <>
> [...]
> Intel's policy with respect to open-source software[1] which
> has been presented at OSDL (I wasn't there unfortunately) is
> clear and can be summarized as follow:
> - make us look like we're open-source friendly by opening
>   a project on sourceforge.
> - give the open-source community the bare minimum so that
>   they can serve as our beta-testers.
> Even, they're far less opened that what they pretend to be
> in their slides:
>   "If you need to keep IP closed source (for example some
>  whiz-bang algorithm), document the hardware sufficiently
>  that the community can provide their own."
> So Intel please tell me where I can find the documentation
> of your Intel PRO/Wireless products so that I can improve
> the drivers myself?
> Damien
> [1] "Balancing Open Source and Corporate Objectives"
> James Ketrenos, Intel SGG Core Software Division,
> ipw2100/2200/3945 project manager, July 25, 2006
> And yes, it was in the "Open Drivers" summit!
> | CVSROOT: /cvs
> | Module name: src
> | Changes by: 2006/09/29 21:02:45
> | 
> | Modified files:
> | share/man/man4 : wpi.4 iwi.4 ipw.4 
> | 
> | Log message:
> | We have again tried to talk to Intel about being able
> | to redistribute firmware and they are being totally
> | unhelpful.
> | 
> | If you'd like to tell Intel how screwed up this
> | situation is, you should mail

In the past, our users have shown that they can help us convince
vendors to do the right thing.  They have shown vendors the path
towards freeing up many pieces of documentation or granting firmware
distribution rights.  This has helped with many vendors, most of them
quite large.

Before we ask a vendor, we have already lost (ie. the device does not
work).  When a vendor says no, we have lost nothing further -- there
is no way we can lose further than having the device not work.  We can
only win, and then the device works.  So there is no point in giving
up until we win back the rights to write software for the hardware
that we have purchased.

These vendors often want a quiet private discussion, because in a
quiet private discussion they can continue to dismiss the requests and
in the end do absolutely nothing.  They do not want a noisy public
discussion, because then they look bad.  But they DESERVE TO LOOK BAD,
because they are being bad to those who bought their hardware!

In this particular case, we would like more documentation for the
Intel wireless chips.  Damien has already written drivers that make
the devices work quite well... but there are still bugs, since all of
this is based on reverse engineering efforts.  The drivers could be
better.  Intel stands in the way of your devices working as well as
they should.

Wireless devices from most other vendors now work significantly better
in the *BSD projects than the Intel drivers.  That is because almost
all the other vendors have been far more open than Intel, and because
Damien (and friends) have worked very hard to do their best.  Quite
frankly, Intel has been a royal pain in the ass.  Not to us, but to
people who bought their devices.

We would also like Intel to GRANT us distribution rights for the
binary firmwares of their 3 wireless chipsets.  Quite frankly we don't
care what their reasons are, because their reasons must be lies
according to the slides Intel presented at a conference.

Intel also must grant these rights freely (we will not sign away our
users rights, and we will not sign away our own rights -- that is what
some of the Linux vendors do when they ship Intel firmwares).  Intel
must do this firmware grant in the same way that Adaptec, Atmel,
Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Cyclades, QLogic, Ralink, and LSI and lots of
other companies have granted distribution firmware to be used by
others.  We do not believe that Intel is not special enough that they
can take people's money and their rights.

(By the way, Intel already provides some other firmwares for other
chips, with the correct distribution terms... those firmwares being
CRITICAL BUG FIXES for very broken 100mbit ethernet chips that they
shipped in the millions.  That is why we know that Intel's legal
department already knows how to release firmware images with a BSD
license, thus permitting distribution).

Until Intel releases these things, even their conference presentations
make them total liars -- and that specifically means James Ketrenos.
He has no right to tell such lies at an Open Source conference.
People who release full code are open source -- Intel is not, and
since James does not release *all the pieces that people need* into
the Open Source Community, James is not Open Source, and therefore
James is a big fat liar.  James and Intel only release the partial
fragments that they feel will make them look "Open".

(To quote a friend,
	Some asshole said he was "open",
	but he was only open for business.

By withholding, Intel is being an Open Source fraud.

Majid Awad at Intel has stated to developers that he is the current
person who is responsible for this particular area.  So go ahead, let
him know how you feel about this.

Again, his email address is

So let's win back the rights to run the hardware we purchased.

Please feel free to let other open source communities know about this
matter.  Thank you.

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