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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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