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Comment Then start your own router company. (Score 1) 143

Sounds like you are an expert in hardware design and you have a deep intuitive understanding of the economics of that industry. You'll be able to sell your hackable routers for pennies more per unit than the existing companies--and people will be willing to pay that because you are giving them such a valuable feature (the ability to modify the firmware).

Why are you wasting your time with me? Get to work!

And, by the way, on what planet can you purchase a separate processor with its own flash chip for "pennies"?--even in large quantities that is absurd. You are talking a couple dollars per unit.

Comment Your definition of "physically can't" is childish. (Score 1) 143

There's no way to 100% block a sufficiently motivated and skilled individual--and you don't need to. We do some due diligence to make it hard for the vast majority of people to modify the software and we call it a day. Your definition of "physically can't" is based on your personal level of skill and motivation and you are [naively] assuming that pretty much everyone on Earth is the same as you.

There are lots of good reasons to prevent the user from modifying their hardware: protecting the user's physical safety (and thus limiting liability of the manufacturer), hiding trade secrets, reducing support overhead, etc. It works like this in every industry--the computer industry doesn't get a free pass just because there's a tiny minority of entitled petulant hackers who think they should allowed to reprogram everything with a microprocessor.

Comment I'd love a cheap solid gold keyboard... (Score 1) 143

but I'm not entitled to one. If the market isn't giving you what you want then you either offer more money or make it yourself, but no one is required to make the product you want for the price you want.

The hacker community wants companies to incur extra expense to make hackable hardware and then pass that cost onto the vast majority of customers who have no interest in hacking their hardware. The market's answer is, "Nope".

Comment The right answer *is* to Tivoize it. (Score 1) 143

It leads to the simplest and cheapest hardware, the easiest-to-support software stack (no dealing with customers running third-party firmware) and it meets the FCC requirements. It annoys people who want others to subsidize their desire to fiddle with commodity hardware, but that doesn't really matter because statistically those people don't exist.

The "correct response" is for the hacker community to build their own hackable hardware or pay extra to some company that supplies hackable hardware.

Comment Umm, yeah, that's pretty idiotic. (Score 1) 143

There are very good reasons to make devices for which the firmware is changeable after manufacturing but only by the manufacturer. The manufacturer does a little bit of encryption and signs the binary blob with their secret key and the hardware refuses to run un-signed binaries (pretty much exactly what people are complaining about here with routers). Sure it can be defeated by people with a lot of time on their hands, but you can also re-write your mask ROM with enough effort.

Software people have an incredibly naive understanding of how the world works. It would be funny if it wasn't so scary.

Comment Process labels are mostly meaningless nowadays (Score 1) 256

Different manufacturers don't necessarily measure the same feature to give that size (i.e., minimum L1 metal width or poly width or whatever) and there are so many second-order effects which influence density, performance, and power that the difference between 14nm and 16nm is pretty meaningless.

Comment So long as it's GPL V2 then I don't see a problem (Score 1) 143

If they've made any modifications to the kernel (for example) then they should make that source available--but they aren't required to give you a way to re-compile that source and load it onto the hardware. And they are perfectly free to use binary blobs for the low-level bits that talk to the hardware, there's no GPL violation there--that's a proprietary executable that runs on top of the kernel.

Comment Shouldn't that be fixed by the vendor? (Score 1) 143

If the vendor refuses to fix it, then find a different vendor. A vendor could choose to make their router software modifiable by third parties (presumably at extra expense & liability) and if that is a valuable capability then presumably customers will be willing to pay for it.

We don't allow people to rewrite the low-level software in their microwave, I don't know why we'd allow it for something like a router.

Comment It's software in the sense that it can be changed, (Score 1) 143

but it's not software in any sense of the understanding of the vast majority of software engineers that read slashdot--specifically because they've been sheltered from extremely low-level hardware details by various layers of firmware for their entire lives.

x86 micro-code can be changed via flash, as can the low-level software that controls your microwaves, does that need to be programmable by random C++ hackers?

Comment As a HW designer, I really dislike the idea... (Score 1) 143

of requiring firmware to be modifiable by external developers. Firmware isn't software. With software we have to jump through a lot of hoops to make sure that the programmer can't do any physical damage and that he or she has a relatively clean and sane way to program the machine. Firmware is much lower level and it's where we hide all sorts of nasty stuff. In many cases it is virtually impossible to write the firmware if you aren't sitting next to the guy who designed the hardware (sometimes it's the same guy). In some cases you can cause physical damage to the device or to people. Engineering teams have careful validation methodologies for firmware--random hackers are the amongst the least careful people on the planet.

It's better to put any compliance burden (FCC, security, etc.) squarely on the manufacturer and let them use signed binary blobs.

"Of course power tools and alcohol don't mix. Everyone knows power tools aren't soluble in alcohol..." -- Crazy Nigel