[PD] Piksel'05

Piotr Majdak piotr at majdak.com
Thu Aug 18 12:39:48 CEST 2005

Hi all,

I try to follow the discussion and wonder about the most complementary 
positions of hardware and software guys. There are some points I don't 

Marc Lavallée wrote:
> My point was that hardware is still designed, marketed, and sold in order to 
> be used unmodified. 

Pro: DSP in a monolithic design, hardware. Designed to be unmodified.
Contra: no name personal computer, modular concept, hardware. Designed 
to be adapted for customer purposes.


On the other hand, free software is designed, marketed
> and used as a work in progress, not as a monolithic product loosing value 
> while being used. 

Pro: open source software. Allowed to be modified.
Contra: closed source software as a freeware product. Use it for free 
(free as free beer not free speech :-) but, you are not supposed to 
modify it until you get the sources and permission.
Small example: microcode in your CPU
Bigger example: adobe acrobat reader
Any example: a lib/app/driver you are allowed to use but you won't get 
the sources.

Thus, ???

Hacking free software is normal and legally protected for
> this usage. Hacking free software is ecological, but throwing away
> unmodified hardware because it is "obsolete" (like cell phones) is 
> polluting. 

Contra: Hacking free software instead of buying an existing solution is 
polluting due to the energy you waste. Re-using old PC as a server 
(file/mail/firewall...) is ecological. So, again: ???

> Hacking hardware should be a protected right. 

Modifying hardware is allowed, if the designer of the hardware allows to 
do that. Modifying software is allowed as well, only if the designer of 
the software allows to that. E.g. buy a no name PC, change the hard 
disk, and resell it. Get a copy of OOo, change some code lines, resell 
it (under another brand, of course). So, where is the difference? Just 
because modifying software is much easier? (try to hack a monolythic 
integrated chip :-)

> products. We want free drivers and free hardware...

I think, there is one difference between software and hardware: the 
software is based on hardware (no software without hardware).
Thus, you modify the software, because someone gave you specifications 
of the hardware and allowed to adapt the functionality of the total 
system, again, via the software. Thus, is it possible that the line 
between software and hardware is the border between "modify by customer" 
and "modify by designer"?

E.g.: think of the well known Z80, which specifications are very, very 
hard to modify. But, you could use an FPGA to emulate the Z80 in 
_software_ to allow easy modifications. In both cases you have (almost) 
the same system, the only difference is your freedom...

Would it be OK if the owner of the Z80-emulation doesn't allow to modify 
the code?

And, just to get the curve to the nvidia drivers, if, comparing to the 
Z80 example, the nvidia graphic card is the FPGA and the nvidia drivers 
the Z80-emulation: why is it evil to sell the drivers as closed source?

OK, that are my two cent,


More information about the Pd-list mailing list