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SubjectRe: Binary Drivers
Am Sonntag, 24. Dezember 2006 21:20 schrieb Horst H. von Brand:

> It is done regularly. Current cars control the fuel injection etc
> via an onboard computer, without this control the engine just won't
> start. Did you get the specs for the exact fuel control algorithm
> with your car? Should you be able to fool around with that, thus
> violating emission control measures (this would damage not only
> you, but everybody)?

You won't get access to the software source code, but the car
manufactors are required to document and publish the interfaces to
their hardware, so that also independent car workshops are able to do
maintenance and repair on it.

You have ever heared of chip tuning? Chip tuning is a replacement of
the original firmware with a 3rd party one, that will give higher
power and torque.

So your gave a perfect example from another industry, where the specs
are actually published.

Again: We don't want the original drivers being open sourced. All we
want is access to the hardware interface documentation, so that we
can develop our very own drivers. And heck: With a custom driver for
some RAID controller or a graphics card you will hardly violate any
regulations.

There might be issues with radio hardware, but surprisingly the
drivers for the good stuff (i.e. not those cheapo cards with lousy
range and throughput) are open source (Prism/HostAP).

I'd even say, that selling hardware without giving documentation is
illegal also from a competitions law point of view. By supplying a
driver only for a small range of operating systems you, as the
factual owner of a piece of hardware are hindered to use it in the
way you like, e.g. use it with the homebrew operating system you
wrote (or a finnish student wrote in 1991 ;-)). Thus the HW
manufactor delivering drivers only for a small range of operating
systems can be assumed to distort the market by biasing one specific
operting system manufactor _and_ hardware manufactors. Remember, that
many binary only drivers for Linux are only avaliable for the x86
variant. Only few are also avaliable for x86_64 (AMD64), even fewer
for IA64 and for other architectures it's getting homeopathic. This
is IMHO a extreme distortion of the free market.

Happy holydays

Wolfgang Draxinger
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