[yavor at doganov.org: Re: Defining Free Software Business]

Alfred M. Szmidt ams at gnu.org
Tue Jun 27 15:36:56 UTC 2006

   > Can you change the CPU microcode (I'm not familiar with new
   > CPU's)?  If you can't, then there is little point in having it as
   > free software since you wouldn't be able to update your
   > microcode.  Kinda like wanting the source code to your toaster,
   > but the software is on a ROM chip.

   This is actually an interesting point: even if I can't change it, I
   would really be interested in the source code of my toaster
   software.  Modifying the software is only one aspect of Free
   Software. Being able to understand how it works is another one.

All the four freedoms need to be usable for something to be useful.
If you can't upload a new copy, then being able to modify it is
pointless I think.

   I might, for example, want to build my own toaster and look at some
   algorithms used in that toaster software. Or I might encounter a
   bug in the toaster software, and while still not being able to fix
   it, the possibility to look at the source code might help me to
   find a way to work around it. Or I might just want to check whether
   the toaster collects information about its usage and sends it to
   the producer over the internet 

I think the cases you outlined don't really need access to the source
code, they all can be done in a different manner.  And they all
revolve around `examiniation', which isn't as easy when it comes to

To me atleast it boils down to: If I have the source code, can I
actually use it for something?  In the case of the toaster, I can't.
So my freedom is still limited.  I find it like arguing between a
non-free program, and a non-free program, your rights are subjugated
in both cases.

   (there are internet enabled toasters, aren't there?).

If anyone knows of internet enabled toasters that are sold, I'd really
like to know! I know of vending machines that have been internet
enabled, but not of toasters. :-)

More information about the Discussion mailing list