[nycbug-talk] OpenBSD and blobs

N.J. Thomas njt at ayvali.org
Tue Oct 17 11:00:50 EDT 2006

* Peter Wright <pete at nomadlogic.org> [2006-10-16 19:50:23 -0700]:
> now, i belive one of OpenBSD's main issues with binary blobs is that
> it tends to prevent coders of drivers from getting complete hardware
> doc? does anyone know if this is the case with the nvidia built
> drivers?

>From my understanding of what the OpenBSD devs have stated on the issue:
they absolutely don't accept binblobs because you are basically running
a lump of code for which no source (and usually no documentation either)
is available. It's obviously a huge security risk, and their position is
only validated by news of the Nvidia exploit.

What they do want are these 3 things instead:

    - binary firmware for the hardware in question (firmware is not a
      binblob, because it is not executed, it is just copied into

    - the rights to freely distribute this firmware 

    - enough documentation to be able to hook the OS into the hardware

Contrary to what has been said elsewhere, they do not want the complete
docs to write their own firmware, this is a huge waste of time for

All in all, their position is quite reasonable and it's disheartening to
see Linux and FreeBSD devs take such a nonchalant attitude towards the
problem. They devote a lot of ink to free software issues but don't seem
to exercise it when it counts.


N.J. Thomas
njt at ayvali.org
Etiamsi occiderit me, in ipso sperabo

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