Which firmware in common laptops

Paul van der Vlis paul at vandervlis.nl
Mon Mar 2 14:58:59 UTC 2015

Op 02-03-15 om 14:58 schreef Paul Boddie:
> On Monday 2. March 2015 14.26.02 Paul van der Vlis wrote:
>> I am most interested in the devices what have replaceable firmware.
>> Because somebody could do bad things with it, like they did with the
>> firmware of harddisks.
> I think there definitely needs to be more discussion around firmware which can 
> or cannot be upgraded, particularly since a lot of people seem to disagree 
> with the FSF's position on this. 

For me there is not so much difference between to upload closed-firmware
by the OS or to have a flashrom with closed-firmware feeding such a
controller with cloesed-firmware. (But closed-firmware should not be
distributed with an open source OS.)

When it's about firmware on a non-flashable ROM, I have the same
conclusion as the FSF.

I would like to have open hardware/firmware, but that's not easy to
realize. For me closed firmware is not the biggest problem, but I would
like to make a sha256sum of it for security.

> From one perspective, making the firmware 
> immutable is a bad thing for people who want to fix or improve it, ultimately 
> consigning hardware to waste if it turns out to be critically flawed, but from 
> another perspective, if only the manufacturer is in a position to upgrade the 
> firmware, then they are exercising rights that they deny to the hardware's 
> owners.

Correct. But realize that maybe not only the manufacturer can do it. The
code could be stolen, confiscated, extorted, or "part of a deal". China
now wants sourcecode before buying hardware.

> It's understandable to say that if there's a choice between only some people 
> having the right to upgrade firmware and nobody being able to do it, then the 
> latter prevents one group of people from having power over the other, 
> potentially. However, there's always the argument that such power can be 
> exercised by merely getting the firmware "right first time" (for whatever 
> purpose) and then relinquishing the right to upgrade in order to satisfy the 
> FSF criteria.
> Sorry to drag things off topic, although I'll gladly point out Novena [1] for 
> anyone not already aware of it as a useful reference for such matters.
> Paul
> [1] http://www.kosagi.com/w/index.php?title=Novena_Main_Page

This is really interesting hardware. Maybe I will order it, is there
more information available? I would like to read a "critical article".

With regards,
Paul van der Vlis.

Paul van der Vlis Linux systeembeheer, Groningen

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