allBSD's "Stop the Blob" Campaign

Jona Joachim walkingshadow at
Mon Mar 19 11:51:42 UTC 2007

On Mon, 19 Mar 2007 06:32:26 +0100
Szilveszter Adam <sziszi at> wrote:

> I tread very carefully here, after all, the area is full of dead
> horses and I might accidentally commit violence against some of them
> by beating them up some more...
> On Mon, Mar 19, 2007 at 02:19:03AM +0100, Jona Joachim wrote:
> > I followed the discussion on openbsd-misc, that's why I started this
> > thread, to hear what the FreeBSD folks have to say about it.
> > It's really unfortunate that FreeBSD-GENERIC ships with that whole
> > bunch of blobs IMHO. Open source projects that distribute
> > proprietary software bite their own tail.
> > I think we agree on the fact that blobs are bad and a lot of other
> > FreeBSD users share that same opinion.
> > It would be interesting to hear what the leaders of the projects
> > have to say about this. Is it more important to support hardware
> > than to claim the right for free documentation? Are there other
> > interests involved?
> > Finally I'd like to remind everyone of the fact that not buying
> > undocumented hardware is a good way to fight it.
> I think you are quite misguided when you say that FreeBSD ships with a
> whole bunch of blobs by default. This comes from the fact that - it
> seems so to me - many people confuse binary closed-source drivers (the
> ones that really can be could blobs) and closed-source *firmware*. But
> the difference is quite there.
> I do not think anyone should have anything against binary *firmware*
> Just because firmware is no longer "soldered" into your hardware, but
> needs to be loaded into it from your HDD every time, it still remains
> firmware. Just because it is on your filesystem, it still remains
> firmware. While there are some efforts to produce opensource firmware
> for certain hardware, there is nothing wrong with using the "original"
> closed-source one, this poses *no* threat to opensource developers or
> users. Most of the "blobs" that DES listed in this thread are just
> that: firmware. If you do not like that, fine, but then start by not
> buying any machine that has a proprietary BIOS. That will somewhat
> reduce the selection available to... uhm... yeah. To about 0.
> Reflashing does not count.

Yes, I know. I'm aware of three blob drivers that are frequently used
on FreeBSD: the NVIDIA graphics driver, the Atheros HAL (could
possibly be replaced by OpenHAL) and the Adaptec RAID driver.
"A whole bunch" was perhaps a bit exaggerated but I think it's more a
matter of principle than a matter of quantity.
The fact that closed-source firmware is inevitable these days is not to
be encouraged IMO, it's just a sad fact. But, as you mentioned, things
are changing.

> The "real" blobs are quite few on FreeBSD, because vendors do not see
> enough incentive to develop drivers for FreeBSD yet mostly, not even
> closed-source. The only prominent example would be the Nvidia drivers,
> which are a) not in any way included by default b) are not required
> for the operation of FreeBSD itself, but rather are for Xorg. You can
> of course decide to not use those, but the simple reality is that for
> some hardware, they are the only way to work somewhat ok. This is so
> much so, that even Ubuntu decided to include the Nvidia and ATI blob
> drivers by default into their next release instead of just by direct
> request.

If the vendors released their specs and provided appropriate
documentation they wouldn't need to write drivers for *BSD or even
Linux. A lot of developers would be more than happy to write good
drivers with the help of the vendor instead of having to do reverse

> So, even if someone does not like "blobs", they are quite well off on
> FreeBSD. If you do not use the Nvidia drivers, you are mostly ok
> unless you use some funky vendor-provided third-party stuff but then
> it is not FreeBSD's but your responsibility. And no, do not let the
> OpenBSD propagada mislead you: just because *firmware* is licensed
> and cannot be freely distributed for some hardware, that does not
> make it a "blob".

I think I'm able to process information and make up my own opinion.

Regards, Jona

"I am chaos. I am the substance from which your artists and scientists
build rhythms. I am the spirit with which your children and clowns
laugh in happy anarchy. I am chaos. I am alive, and tell you that you
are free." Eris, Goddess Of Chaos, Discord & Confusion
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 187 bytes
Desc: not available
Url :

More information about the freebsd-advocacy mailing list