Questions on Bluetooth

Ask yourself this: If you are used to doing something is it easy to go cold turkey? According to addiction statistics, cold turkey has a success rate of ~1-2%. By using extremist positions to affect change you thwart and dwarf the change you are hoping to see. Instead, change is best accomplished through compromise and a focus on what is to be achieved over the long term.

FSF is still largely unknown because of their extremist views. This will not change while those views remain extreme.

“Freedom to choose” giving up to big corporations fundamental control and knowledge of the software on devices that we own is not freedom to choose. Such a choice is especially not freedom when the pressure to make that choice is coming from an industry-wide effort to maximize profit via taking choices away from users (I.e. zero hardware manufacturers are making chips without the requirement of creepy updating blobs).

That’s like if another org provided a certification, RYPF (Respects Your Physical Freedom), and Intel and Google attained a duopoly on food. Then Intel and Google made an offer, “we will provide you with enough food for yourself, but you must be locked in our proprietary pillory in order to receive the food.” Would withholding the RYPF certification from Intel and Google be against people’s freedom, because it would take away the choice from people to be locked in the pillory in order to eat? No, of course not. It would be Intel and Google taking away freedom by forcing people into the choice of getting locked in the pillory or starve.

Your description of making a free choice whether or not to have creepy updating blobs on one’s own devices is not a choice. People (and Purism) are being forced toward that path because making a different choice has been taken away by tech companies that actively undermine our freedom.


It’s done this way precisely because it’s not easy. And getting RYF certifications is no one’s obligation (except might be morally).

People like to rest on their laurels. If my teacher didn’t motivate me to get the top grade at each exam, I would have settled for what’s easy: getting bottom ones instead of trying and getting middling grades.

Here, FSF is the teacher. Our industry is currently getting low grades. We can’t improve immediately. However, that’s not a good reason to demand the teacher to hand out top grades regardless.


I don’t think so. It is done that way to soapbox and grandstand. People who are genuine about change realize compromise is not just a good idea but also crucial for change to happen.

Your definition is not Freedom’s definition either. (Thankfully)

Freedom must be above agenda, otherwise it cannot be freedom. If Purism tells me I have the freedom to only choose what FSF agrees with, then that is not freedom, and I’m out of here.

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I see we’re in agreement. FSF is not about compromise, but about the ultimate goals. There’s plenty of space for them too.

You can sleep sound, I don’t believe we have that power over anyone.

…is not something I ever said.

A better analogy would be auto makers installing speed governors on the cars they make such that they couldn’t go over 70 mph, in order to gain a certification from let’s say the EPA. Another condition of that certification is not telling you how to remove it. People would be, rightfully, upset. It is a relaxed sort of control and even though it can be bypassed (in this analogy, the governor can be removed, you just have to figure it out yourself or get someone else to help you) it is enforcing the views of another entity upon those who use its products.

The right to do this isn’t the question, but calling this behavior “respecting your freedom” is wrong. It’s “respecting what the FSF thinks is best for you” which, frankly, sounds a lot like Apple.

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Haha fair enough. I chose to use that terminology, and include the quotation marks to indicate a contrast with its plain meaning, that I used immediately afterward. Technically incorrect, but I think my meaning was clear enough. I didn’t mean to imply that I was quoting you. Sorry about that.

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Regarding binary blobs that update and are mandatory for an owner to use their own hardware, you get why that limits a device owner’s freedom to control and understand what their own device is doing, right?

That is what’s missing from your EPA analogy. In your analogy, the EPA (FSF in the analogy) would be claiming that a manufacturer not installing the speed-limiting governor would violate an owner’s freedom in how they want to use their vehicle. That, unfortunately, makes zero sense, so we should stick with my analogy :smile:

I guess there’ll always be people complaining (I do complain sometimes, also, and I also do regret it afterwards sometimes).

But who would have the customers to value a true FOSS solution even if there is a difference in performance compared to closed, unfree bleeding edge solutions if not Purism?

I could live with an out-of-the-box working bluetooth that doesn’t offer the same performance as the latest standard as long as the basic functions do work. Well, but that’s only me.

I could also well live with some slot (m2, usb, something like an sdcard-like slot) for which I could choose between FOSS and latest performance by exchanging its content. Probably I’d have both cards/dongles then trying to use the FOSS version as much as possible, trying to give back feedback and help to its developers.

Maybe this could be an idea: A slot to put different types of the wifi/bluetooth chip in a format that allows the user to fill it with a non-FOSS version if needed. The situation would be comparable to the modem card in the Librem5.


It was deliberately left out because that wasn’t the point. My point was stated in the last two sentences.

Nevertheless, it is a vital omission from your analogy, which I believe renders the analogy unhelpful for thinking about our real situation.

Creepy updating blob firmware undermines the freedom of device owners. By denying a Respects Your Freedom certification because a device includes such blobs, FSF does not undermine the freedom of device owners in their ability to control or understand what their devices are doing.

FSF may plausibly be undermining the freedom of manufacturers to undermine our freedom in how we want to use our devices, but that is, more or less, the entire point of the RYF certification :slight_smile:

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You’re applying my analogy to an argument I’m not making. Kindly quit putting words in my mouth,

I tried to explain before why this is a total theoretical point. This firmware is already there! It is just hidden away from your sight by putting it into some chip where you can not see, analyze, study or change it. But it is there! And the, at least for me, wrong turn of the FSF RYF is that as long as this firmware is hidden away from you then it is OK while if you can see it and have even more freedoms (to replace it, study it etc.) then it is not OK.
Sorry, but this to me makes no sense at all.

Or to make this a bit clearer, just because some chip does not need a firmware download at runtime it does not at all mean that there is no firmware. Current silicon and hardware technology trends into more and more software defined hardware, i.e. by some form of firmware. We can not prevent that and IMHO it also does not make much sense. By trying to limit ourselves to components that run without a firmware download at runtime we either limit us to ancient hardware or to hardware which is even more locked down by their makers and vendors than the ones with the firmware download - if it gets downloaded at runtime then I can change it, replace it, eventually modify it etc. All of that I can not do (most of the time) if the firmware is in hardware. Take the Atheros WiFi we currently use as an example. The card has a firmware, but it is embedded in ROM on the card and can not be changed by the user. Is this really better?

I have tried to point this out before, if someone (regardless of who) would pull out these blobs, that are there anyway, into the open, then these IMHO must follow some rules that I would really never compromise on, like:

  1. irrevocable perpetual license to copy and redistribute the ‘blob’ as part of anything a user chooses
  2. the blob must not contain code that gets executed by the same CPU running the operating system

No. 1 guarantees certain freedoms that are vitally necessary, e.g. to ship the blob in any form or fashion someone would choose and that also the proprietor of the blob can never ever revoke that freedom and with that eventually jeopardize e.g. an OS distribution or such.

No. 2 is a safety precaution so that no untrusted code will eventually get executed in the operating system domain that could jeopardize user’s security.

The discussion is not and can not be about “closed source firmware” yes or no. These are already there and are accepted, even by the FSF and the RYF. The discussion we need to have is about where this kind of firmware can be stored, eventually what kind of firmware this can be and which rules we want to apply to it. Again, these firmwares are there, we have them already, the FSF RYF accepts them under certain terms, which IMHO are questionable, and these firmwares will not go away, rather the contrary.



I think I didn’t really get this point until this most recent explanation of yours. Thanks for getting through to me :joy:

I see the validity of your point, and I can see how the ability to study and modify the firmware would enhance some aspects of user freedom.

Nevertheless, I still support the FSF stance. There are key differences between firmware blobs that require updates and firmware blobs that cannot be updated. Firmware that cannot be updated (at least not easily) can be thought of as more or less like proprietary hardware.

We can legitimately separate the issue of closed-versus-open hardware from the issue of software freedom. If a company can push a firmware update that the device owner cannot effectively audit or edit, then the owner of the device loses an important aspect of control over their own device. Manufacturers maintain control over the components that they make in a different and troubling way versus when they use firmware blobs that they cannot readily update.

Realistic or no, I deeply appreciate the FSF stance, as it seems like a logical way to put freedom for device owners and for software first. Although I accept the validity of your point about the ability to study and change firmware blobs, this benefit, in my view, is far outweighed by the control of our devices that updating binary blobs give over to tech corporations.

The hardware Purism produces is not RYF certified because it relies on non-free software. For the RYF certification it is irrelevant where non-free software is stored. The only reason why this matters is because PureOS is endorsed by the FSF and therefore it must not include any non-free software. Purism praises its hardware with the endorsement of PureOS a little too much and for some people this might also be a bit misleading. The RYF certification, which those devices do not have (and which no computers with adequate performance have), does not say where non-free firmware must be stored, it says that there must not be any non-free firmware that runs on the device.

Some people are also in doubt if it was a good move of the FSF to endorse PureOS at all, since this endorsement is used to market devices that do not respect your freedom as no usable computers can right now.

The problem comes from Purism using the endorsement of its software to sell its hardware and the security issues come from non-free software and free software not doing well if you put them together.

Although I knew this, I bought the Librem 14 hoping that the hardware is as free as still usable, knowing that Purism will use the money to develop free software and knowing that the money will also be used to develop hardware that will have the RYF certification. The misleading marketing made me think twice, though.

Purism is also financially supporting the Libre-SOC (through NLnet), a project to develop a fast CPU, GPU and VPU (one chip) of which not only all the firmware would be free software (in contrast to other modern processors) but also would the hardware design be available under the terms of a free license (which is not even required by the FSF). This will still take years until it is ready, however. Hopefully it works.

I hope Purism will switch to less misleading marketing in the future but I also get the unspoken point: How many people would buy the devices if Purism told them “Hey, we’re selling expensive devices as we need money to develop something that is actually as good as what you want! Wanna buy one?”

Did you hear about RYF certified laptops with outdated, vulnerable, proprietary microcode? FSF thinks that microcode is proprietary which is why your’re not allowed to update it without losing the certification.

The hardware Purism produces is not RYF certified …

That is currently true. It is also my opinion that the Librem 5 should not be certified RYF.
However, what Purism is counting on is the following “exception” that the FSF specifies in regard to RYF (

However, there is one exception for secondary embedded processors. The exception applies to software delivered inside auxiliary and low-level processors and FPGAs, within which software installation is not intended after the user obtains the product. This can include, for instance, microcode inside a processor, firmware built into an I/O device, or the gate pattern of an FPGA. The software in such secondary processors does not count as product software.

For the Librem 5 Purism seems to be hoping that since the proprietary firmware is resident
to the Wifi module and the cellular modem and only runs on the processors contained
within those modules that those will meet that exemption. IMO it doesn’t because those
two modules were made with the intention to update the firmware. One might note that
there are some RYF certified USB wifi devices and USB BT devices that have embedded firmware just like the above — with the only difference is that they were made in a way that
doesn’t allow the update of the firmware.

Couldn’t FSF certify the device without the WiFi and modem cards?

I don’t know that that would really be useful. Saying “most of the phone is RYF certified” would do more harm than good.