Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Nov 2017 11:50 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Andrew S. Tanenbaum, creator of MINIX, has published an open letter to Intel regarding Intel's use of MINIX in the IME:

The only thing that would have been nice is that after the project had been finished and the chip deployed, that someone from Intel would have told me, just as a courtesy, that MINIX 3 was now probably the most widely used operating system in the world on x86 computers. That certainly wasn't required in any way, but I think it would have been polite to give me a heads up, that's all.

If nothing else, this bit of news reaffirms my view that the Berkeley license provides the maximum amount of freedom to potential users. If they want to publicize what they have done, fine. By all means, do so. If there are good reasons not to release the modified code, that's fine with me, too.

I can still barely believe this whole story.

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RE: Ethical ?
by Alfman on Wed 8th Nov 2017 12:36 UTC in reply to "Ethical ?"
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The ethical thing is to at least respect the source code licence; be it BSD, MIT, GPL, etc. That is, respect the software-code author's wishes.

"subverts end user rights" ... what "rights" ?

In fact, the user has a choice. The user can either use the respective technology or not use the technology.

Yes, in principal the developers/engineers get to choose the licenses and by extension the users get to choose their products.

Proprietary technology does not limit your freedoms per-se.
You only limit your freedoms if you still keep using proprietary technology in which you had made the previous assessment that aspects of the proprietary technology were limiting your effectiveness.

If you feel you need access to open technology then you are free to seek an open solution or you can attempt to develop your own technology with yourself/friends or you can compromise.

One of the biggest problems I have with this ideology is that hardware users often don't get any choice about firmware through any of the manufacturers (other than not buying anything and leaving their needs unfulfilled).

Intel and AMD are both prime examples of this, they have a very strong and unavoidable desktop duopoly for many, and they're both guilty of force consumers to run proprietary locked down firmware. Ideally we'd have the choice of open alternatives, but in the real world we don't. Same goes for hard disks and many other peripherals, nearly all of which is totally proprietary.

Part of the problem is that the theme of open technology is a non-issue for most of society and so commercial entities do not address this issue more adequately.

Indeed, this is the problem with the "vote with your feet" stance, it only works so long as people like me have a choice to buy open firmware products in the first place.

Remote control functionality is often a requirement for managing servers, such as HP LO, Dell DRAC, Intel AMT, and third party offerings like Lantronix Spider. Knowing fully well the risks of proprietary firmware, and preaching about openness as I do, I of all people don't have the excuse of ignorance when it comes to faulting me for buying proprietary gear...yet, this advice is 100% useless when that's all there is on the market. My network runs DRACs, AMT, and Lantronix Spiders, all of which are proprietary and all of which I've have problems with in one way or another because they're proprietary:

1. The DRACs have network bugs that cause them to crash.

2. It's been recently revealed that Intel AMT had a decade old vulnerability. They updated the proprietary firmware, but there are still things I wish I could fix, like the stupid 8 character limit on VNC passwords (no more, no less). This is completely idiotic intel...

3. I found a bug with the Lantronix Spider that affected my ability to wake up machines remotely, I diagnosed the issue and provided Lantronix with everything including the packet traces needed to fix it. I did expect them to support the product, it wasn't cheap after all. But low and behold after a few back and forths the representative candidly told me that they're not putting any more engineering into the product (one that they're still selling now).

It's not logical to place blame on the consumers given the lack of choice, even hindsight doesn't help us. Vendors are doing what's best for themselves, which makes sense for them but for better or worse it leaves the market in a steady state where proprietary firmware is the norm. So what's the solution? Unfortunately this seems very unlikely to change without some kind of interference.

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