But if the API to the device is defined and frozen by the firmware interface, everybody wins
No, I dont agree. There is no win there for me at all (other than simply not buying it.) The current situation with my ATI card is far preferable. You may call it a win if you get what you want out of it, but you do not get to define it as a win for me. What I want is a system where there is nothing running that I did not put there, nothing that I cannot edit, no code that I cannot audit - that is the whole point to free software. The hardware I pay for should respond to my commands, not anyone elses. Your 'solution' gives me exactly zero of what I want, it's not a compromise, it's a total loss.
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