Contributed by deanna on from the they-deserve-to-look-bad dept.
In the past, our users have shown that they can help us convince vendors to do the right thing. They have shown vendors the path towards freeing up many pieces of documentation or granting firmware distribution rights. This has helped with many vendors, most of them quite large.
Before we ask a vendor, we have already lost (ie. the device does not work). When a vendor says no, we have lost nothing further -- there is no way we can lose further than having the device not work. We can only win, and then the device works. So there is no point in giving up until we win back the rights to write software for the hardware that we have purchased.
These vendors often want a quiet private discussion, because in a quiet private discussion they can continue to dismiss the requests and in the end do absolutely nothing. They do not want a noisy public discussion, because then they look bad. But they DESERVE TO LOOK BAD, because they are being bad to those who bought their hardware!
In this particular case, we would like more documentation for the Intel wireless chips. Damien [Bergamini] has already written drivers that make the devices work quite well... but there are still bugs, since all of this is based on reverse engineering efforts. The drivers could be better. Intel stands in the way of your devices working as well as they should.
Wireless devices from most other vendors now work significantly better in the *BSD projects than the Intel drivers. That is because almost all the other vendors have been far more open than Intel, and because Damien (and friends) have worked very hard to do their best. Quite frankly, Intel has been a royal pain in the ass. Not to us, but to people who bought their devices.
We would also like Intel to GRANT us distribution rights for the binary firmwares of their 3 wireless chipsets. Quite frankly we don't care what their reasons are, because their reasons must be lies according to the slides Intel presented at a conference.
Intel also must grant these rights freely (we will not sign away our users rights, and we will not sign away our own rights -- that is what some of the Linux vendors do when they ship Intel firmwares). Intel must do this firmware grant in the same way that Adaptec, Atmel, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Cyclades, QLogic, Ralink, and LSI and lots of other companies have granted distribution firmware to be used by others. We do not believe that Intel is not special enough that they can take people's money and their rights.
(By the way, Intel already provides some other firmwares for other chips, with the correct distribution terms... those firmwares being CRITICAL BUG FIXES for very broken 100mbit ethernet chips that they shipped in the millions. That is why we know that Intel's legal department already knows how to release firmware images with a BSD license, thus permitting distribution).
Until Intel releases these things, even their conference presentations make them total liars -- and that specifically means James Ketrenos. He has no right to tell such lies at an Open Source conference. People who release full code are open source -- Intel is not, and since James does not release *all the pieces that people need* into the Open Source Community, James is not Open Source, and therefore James is a big fat liar. James and Intel only release the partial fragments that they feel will make them look "Open".
(To quote a friend,
Some asshole said he was "open",
but he was only open for business.)
By withholding, Intel is being an Open Source fraud.
Majid Awad at Intel has stated to developers that he is the current person who is responsible for this particular area. So go ahead, let him know how you feel about this.
Again, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
So let's win back the rights to run the hardware we purchased.
Please feel free to let other open source communities know about this matter. Thank you.
Allowing companies like Intel to get away with not providing docs affects the entire open source ecosystem. People in projects like the Linux kernel and FreeBSD need to realize that this affects them too, and they should join in at banging on these companies' doors. Intel needs to hear from us, their open source customers, that we will not let them walk into *our* sandbox and start bullying us around. Don't ever forget that you paid for their hardware; you don't owe them anything. However, they owe you a working product.
In 2004, Ryan McBride of OpenBSD composed this message to Texas Instruments, explaining the Project's needs and providing ample justification for its requests. This message serves as a good example of how to get the point across.
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