the realities of FOSS

It’s interesting how often FOSS is a good answer at the type of company I work (let’s not get into that).  Just yesterday, my team discussed how we couldn’t distribute Firefox because of the logo (the truth to that is debated, so if someone can clear that up, that would be appreciated).  I suggested Iceweasel of course.  The was met with the typical “open source hippie” backlash I’ve come to deal with.  Mostly, it’s ignorance and not true backlash, but it’s still irritating.  We’re putting Wubi on all our laptops because of Windows viruses and we’ve even giving people what are essentially netbooks with Linux in some cases to avoid licensing costs.

But today it really hit me.  Verizon won’t allow us to distribute the driver for a wireless card.  Seriously?  We’re paying to use your service and we can’t even pre-install the ability to pay you?  What are companies thinking?  I understand companies are just trying to protect themselves against hideous US law, but that doesn’t make it any better.  If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  As a rule, I don’t like proprietary software, but I understand selling software *if you are a software company*.  Verizon is not a software company.  There is zero reason for this driver not to be FOSSed.  Sure, don’t use the GPL.  I’m cool with that.  Use MIT or BSD or MPL or whatever.  Just give us the code.

So, it is probably in vain that I attempt to find a FOSS replacement for this driver.  Writing drivers for closed-spec hardware has got to be one of the hardest things to do (I’m not a programmer, but based on how poor driver support often is for Linux, I’m going to stand by this).

There is so much to discuss at OpenCamp tomorrow in Madison, but maybe this is one of them…

If you have ideas, please add them to the workshop idea page.  BTW, if you are finding this on the web, NYC is also having an Open Everything event tomorrow.  However, registration is closed for them.  We will be accepting walk-ins.

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