tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

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tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

Daniel Knabl-3
Seems to me that Broadcom Inc. does really allow Debian to
re-distribute the included firmware explicitly.

regards
Daniel



Begin forwarded message(s):

Datum: Thu, 9 Apr 2009 05:02:23 -0700
Von: [hidden email]
An: [hidden email]
Betreff: [CASE#221365]:  Closed - need firmware files


Update Time: Apr  9 2009  5:00AM PST/PDT

Field: Status
Old Value: Resolved
New Value: Closed


-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Apr  2 2009  1:21PM PST/PDT
Our Linux driver as a whole is released under GPL license; therefore, I
don't see any issue with re-distributing the driver.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
[hidden email] Apr  2 2009 12:00PM PST/PDT
So can you please clarify that to me and especially to the Debian
Maintainers: Is the Debian project allowed to redistribute the firmware
included in your drivers?

Anyway, what would stand against the right to re-distribute firmware
for a product/device that is already property of the customer who
bought it?

kind regards

--
Daniel Knabl
www.tirolinux.net             [hidden email]
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-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Apr  2 2009 10:35AM PST/PDT
These micro-codes are embedded into our drivers, we do not provide
these separately.



--- ISSUE SUMMARY ---
Project: NIC Tech
Product: BCM5906
Item: Linux 32
Status: Closed
Requester: Daniel Knabl <[hidden email]>
Company: Broadcom Corporation
Req. Priority: Low

Summary: need firmware files

Description:
Debian does not provide firmware files, because they are not provided
with source code which is necessary because of GPL. please provide the
following firmware: tso-1.4.0, tg3_tso5.bin, tg3_tso.bin, tg3.bin

Operating System: Linux 32
Additional OS Info: Debian Lenny 5.0
System Model: Lenovo 3000 N200
Device Type: On Board
Driver Version: 3.92.1
Ethernet Controller: BCM5906



---
To view attachments for this case click on this link:
https://support.broadcom.com/IMS/Public/IssueAttachments.aspx?IssueId=221365&AccessCode=399025034807870400000
---


---
INSTRUCTIONS: To update this case, reply to this email maintaining the
full Case ID [including square parentheses] in the subject field. To
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text before sending your reply.

Original MailTo: [hidden email]



--
Daniel Knabl
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Re: tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

Brian M. Carlson
[CC'd -legal as well; you probably want to follow up there.]

On Thu, Apr 09, 2009 at 05:46:58PM +0200, Daniel Knabl wrote:
>Seems to me that Broadcom Inc. does really allow Debian to
>re-distribute the included firmware explicitly.

The GPLv2 requires that distributors provide source code in certain
circumstances.  Source code is defined in the GPLv2 as the preferred
form for modification.  Unless Broadcom uses a hex editor to modify the
firmware, Debian does not have the source code (the preferred form for
modification) and therefore cannot provide it upon request.  Since
Debian cannot comply with the license, it is not permitted to distribute
it at all.  Doing so would be copyright infringement.

If Broadcom were to license the firmware under a revised BSD license or
another license that does not require providing source code, then Debian
would be permitted to distribute it in non-free.

This issue is completely separate from whether the firmware has source
code according to the DFSG.

As a practical matter, only certain very old revisions of the hardware
actually need the firmware at all for basic functionality.  Most
hardware using the tg3 driver (like my laptop) are completely functional
without any firmware at all.  Certain extra features, like TCP Segment
Offloading (TSO), are enabled by the firmware, but these features are
not required for basic functionality.

--
brian m. carlson / brian with sandals: Houston, Texas, US
+1 713 440 7475 | http://crustytoothpaste.ath.cx/~bmc | My opinion only
troff on top of XML: http://crustytoothpaste.ath.cx/~bmc/code/thwack
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Re: tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

Neil Williams-4
On Thu, 9 Apr 2009 20:41:12 +0000
"brian m. carlson" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> [CC'd -legal as well; you probably want to follow up there.]
>
> On Thu, Apr 09, 2009 at 05:46:58PM +0200, Daniel Knabl wrote:
> >Seems to me that Broadcom Inc. does really allow Debian to
> >re-distribute the included firmware explicitly.
>
> The GPLv2 requires that distributors provide source code in certain
> circumstances.  Source code is defined in the GPLv2 as the preferred
> form for modification.  Unless Broadcom uses a hex editor to modify the
> firmware, Debian does not have the source code (the preferred form for
> modification) and therefore cannot provide it upon request.  Since
> Debian cannot comply with the license, it is not permitted to distribute
> it at all.  Doing so would be copyright infringement.
That wasn't the result of the GR:

Option 5 "Assume blobs comply with GPL unless proven otherwise"

http://www.uk.debian.org/vote/2008/vote_003

Do we know if there is "source code" for this firmware. There is no
proof that the firmware does not comply with the GPLv2 AFAICT,
therefore the GR requires that we assume that the firmware does
comply, whatever that means with regard to the "preferred form for
modification". Why assume that using a hex editor is impossible?

> This issue is completely separate from whether the firmware has source
> code according to the DFSG.

How can it be separate? The assertion from your reply was that there
was source code behind the hex. Is there *evidence* and *proof* that
this is the case?

--


Neil Williams
=============
http://www.data-freedom.org/
http://www.linux.codehelp.co.uk/
http://e-mail.is-not-s.ms/


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Re: tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

Brian M. Carlson
On Thu, Apr 09, 2009 at 10:06:55PM +0100, Neil Williams wrote:
>On Thu, 9 Apr 2009 20:41:12 +0000
>"brian m. carlson" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> [CC'd -legal as well; you probably want to follow up there.]

I don't need to be CC'd, thanks.  M-F-T set accordingly.

>> On Thu, Apr 09, 2009 at 05:46:58PM +0200, Daniel Knabl wrote:
>> >Seems to me that Broadcom Inc. does really allow Debian to
>> >re-distribute the included firmware explicitly.
>>
>> The GPLv2 requires that distributors provide source code in certain
>> circumstances.  Source code is defined in the GPLv2 as the preferred
>> form for modification.  Unless Broadcom uses a hex editor to modify the
>> firmware, Debian does not have the source code (the preferred form for
>> modification) and therefore cannot provide it upon request.  Since
>> Debian cannot comply with the license, it is not permitted to distribute
>> it at all.  Doing so would be copyright infringement.
>
>That wasn't the result of the GR:
>
>Option 5 "Assume blobs comply with GPL unless proven otherwise"
I'm going to ignore for the moment the fact that this title has a
negligible relation to the proposal's content and that the actual
proposal supports my point.

There are two issues here:

* Broadcom says that the entire driver (presumably including firmware) is
   GPLv2.  Because we know that it is not shipped with source code (see
   below), we know that this is insufficient to make the firmware
   legally distributable.
* The firmware actually has a separate license that reads as follows:

    * Firmware is:
    * Derived from proprietary unpublished source code,
    * Copyright (C) 2000-2003 Broadcom Corporation.
    *
    * Permission is hereby granted for the distribution of this firmware
    * data in hexadecimal or equivalent format, provided this copyright
    * notice is accompanying it.

   This license does not allow for modification.  Therefore, Debian can
   legally distribute the firmware, but only in non-free.  I have no
   objection to Debian distributing this firmware in non-free;
   nevertheless, as I stated in my original post, whether Debian
   distributes this firmware is mostly irrelevant with regard to having a
   functioning tg3 driver.

>Do we know if there is "source code" for this firmware. There is no
>proof that the firmware does not comply with the GPLv2 AFAICT,
>therefore the GR requires that we assume that the firmware does
>comply, whatever that means with regard to the "preferred form for
>modification". Why assume that using a hex editor is impossible?

I'm not saying that using a hex editor is impossible.  I'm saying that
there's source code:

    * Firmware is:
    * Derived from proprietary unpublished source code,
    * Copyright (C) 2000-2003 Broadcom Corporation.

I don't know about you, but I'd much prefer to modify any sort of
program, firmware or not, using C or assembly rather than editing the
binary directly.  I suspect that this is the case for any reasonable
programmer.  Thus, we do not have the preferred form for modification,
and thus, we cannot distribute it under the GPLv2.

>> This issue is completely separate from whether the firmware has source
>> code according to the DFSG.
>
>How can it be separate? The assertion from your reply was that there
>was source code behind the hex. Is there *evidence* and *proof* that
>this is the case?

Yes.  Why would Broadcom lie about there being source code?

--
brian m. carlson / brian with sandals: Houston, Texas, US
+1 713 440 7475 | http://crustytoothpaste.ath.cx/~bmc | My opinion only
troff on top of XML: http://crustytoothpaste.ath.cx/~bmc/code/thwack
OpenPGP: RSA v4 4096b 88AC E9B2 9196 305B A994 7552 F1BA 225C 0223 B187

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Re: tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

Marco d'Itri
On Apr 10, "brian m. carlson" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I don't know about you, but I'd much prefer to modify any sort of
> program, firmware or not, using C or assembly rather than editing the
> binary directly.  I suspect that this is the case for any reasonable
> programmer.  Thus, we do not have the preferred form for modification,
> and thus, we cannot distribute it under the GPLv2.
Thank you for the great work you are doing to improve Debian.

--
ciao,
Marco

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Re: tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

Ben Hutchings-3
On Fri, 2009-04-10 at 03:32 +0200, Marco d'Itri wrote:
> On Apr 10, "brian m. carlson" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I don't know about you, but I'd much prefer to modify any sort of
> > program, firmware or not, using C or assembly rather than editing the
> > binary directly.  I suspect that this is the case for any reasonable
> > programmer.  Thus, we do not have the preferred form for modification,
> > and thus, we cannot distribute it under the GPLv2.
> Thank you for the great work you are doing to improve Debian.

Brian is right; binary-only firmware generally can't be distributed
under GPLv2.  I forget what the status of tg3 is but Michael Chan of
Broadcom has worked with us on separating bnx2 and bnx2x firmware under
an appropriate licence, so I expect it will be possible to fix any
remaining problems with tg3 firmware licencing.  You are doing nothing
but insulting people who point out the legal and ethical issues with
embedded firmware blobs, and that certainly doesn't improve Debian.

Ben.


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Re: tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

Neil Williams-4
In reply to this post by Brian M. Carlson
On Thu, 9 Apr 2009 22:34:15 +0000
"brian m. carlson" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> * The firmware actually has a separate license that reads as follows:
>
>     * Firmware is:
>     * Derived from proprietary unpublished source code,

OK, I wasn't aware of that. With the clear statement that source code
was involved in the derivation of the firmware, I'd agree that the
effect of the GR is that this firmware needs source code to be in main.

>     * Copyright (C) 2000-2003 Broadcom Corporation.
>     *
>     * Permission is hereby granted for the distribution of this firmware
>     * data in hexadecimal or equivalent format, provided this copyright
>     * notice is accompanying it.
>
>    This license does not allow for modification.  Therefore, Debian can
>    legally distribute the firmware, but only in non-free.  I have no
>    objection to Debian distributing this firmware in non-free;
>    nevertheless, as I stated in my original post, whether Debian
>    distributes this firmware is mostly irrelevant with regard to having a
>    functioning tg3 driver.
>
> I don't know about you, but I'd much prefer to modify any sort of
> program, firmware or not, using C or assembly rather than editing the
> binary directly.  I suspect that this is the case for any reasonable
> programmer.
I still hanker after the days of tweaking things in the assembly or
hacking around in a compiled binary with a hex editor. As long as
source code exists, the effort required becomes a pointless diversion
but there remain instances where binary constructs are not compiled,
they are created by test and experimentation according to the design
(and more often the errata) of a particular piece of hardware using
electrical equipment or hardware tools, not text editors. As such, not
all firmware can be expected to have any source code. In this case, as
we have a declaration that source code was involved, that doesn't apply
here.

--


Neil Williams
=============
http://www.data-freedom.org/
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/
http://www.linux.codehelp.co.uk/


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Re: tg3 firmware - was (Fw: [CASE#221365]: Closed - need firmware files)

Jeff Carr-3
On Fri, Apr 10, 2009 at 01:14, Neil Williams <[hidden email]> wrote:

>>     * Firmware is:
>>     * Derived from proprietary unpublished source code,

> electrical equipment or hardware tools, not text editors. As such, not
> all firmware can be expected to have any source code. In this case, as
> we have a declaration that source code was involved, that doesn't apply
> here.

Those tools often have source code like verilog or vhdl, but that
doesn't change the problem that this blob can be put into any
recognizable form. I wouldn't rule it out is the statement seems to
imply that. It says derived from not compiled from. Even the person
that made it may not know.


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