Laptop running 100% Free Software

Ben Finney bignose+hates-spam at
Tue Feb 14 23:46:45 UTC 2012

Fabian Keil <freebsd-listen at>

> Quoting
> | 1) The world's first fully free software. All system source
> | files(BIOS, kernel, drivers etc.) are free software, no close
> | firmware needed.
> Given that the BIOS is the only firmware that is explicitly mentioned
> to be free software, I assume "no close firmware needed" actually
> means "no non-free firmware except the pre-installed one".
> If that's the case, the system might satisfy the "no non-free drivers"
> requirement, but it wouldn't really be "running 100% Free Software".

There is a distinction, IMO a useful one, between what is expected to
receive firmware uploaded from the operating system, versus chips that
just run whatever was burned into them and are never altered after

Firmware that never changes after the recipient gets it may as well be
hardware, since no-one has special access to alter the behaviour of it.
It doesn't impinge on the recipient's software freedom.

Firmware loaded from the OS is software that the vendor controls, and
the user deserves that same freedom.

The useful distinguishing question to keep in mind is: Does anyone have
special access to alter the behaviour of this device after it changes
hands? If so, the nominal owner of the device must have at least that
much access also in order to have sufficient software freedom.

 \           “If you do not trust the source do not use this program.” |
  `\                                —Microsoft Vista security dialogue |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney
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