November 8th, 2004, 19:16
from misc@

"Intel has said no.

I had asked for free terms under which we (and Linux, anyone) can
redistribute the firmwares for their wireless chipsets. Without
these firmware files included in OpenBSD, users must go do some
click-through license at some web site to get at the files. Without
those files, these devices are just bits of metal, plastic, and sand.

Currently there is a contract that vendors must agree to, and a
seperate contract that users must agree to. In their mind a vendor is
someone who distributes. In our mind, anyone can be a vendor or a
user. That is why we wanted no agreement, just let us do distribute,
use, and redistribute these files. The vendor contract locks your
users in.

(Not surprisingly, two Linux vendors have decided that the contracts
Intel has are fine: You can ask Suse and Mandrake why they believe
that locking their users into non-free contracts like this in their
distributions is ok, too)

Intel has cleverly written up an FAQ that describes what the Licenses
mean. If you read it, please doubt it. The FAQ's demands do not
match what the actual license says. The license restricts rights
more than the FAQ states.

It took Intel about two weeks to come back and say that they cannot
give us freer redistribution rights. The claim is that they have
'obligations' to more than outside 1 party that prevents them from
doing so. Further questioning did not lead me to an answer. Did
Intel link their firmware against libraries from some other vendor?
Are they held back because of some compiler or assembler toolkit they
used? Is this related to past Intel chipset relationships with
Phillips or other early wireless companies that they participated with
or bought? Do they wish to deprecate these chipsets because of some
agreement with someone else or because of future plans? Or is there
some deal to try to keep wireless chipset technologies only within the
realm of Microsoft Windows and access point use? I have not been

Here we have a very large company somehow saying that they are
contractually held from letting their customers use the devices
they bought as they need to.

I asked how many customers Intel would have to hear from, or how
many they were willing to disenfranchise, before they would put
effort into finding a way past their (claimed) legal problems. I
got no answers.

So I give up. I know that I am not going to get anywhere.

HOWEVER, as consumers of their products I will as my last action tell
you who you can talk to at Intel. Maybe they will listen to enough
customers, or they will learn to not make this mistake again with
future chipsets. I for one have already decided that I will never
recommend an Intel product to anyone ever if there is choice. (There
is almost always choice).

Perhaps you -- their consumers -- can do better.

Good luck.

-- 858 391 1857

Mr Boyd Bangerter (503) 264-7773
Mr Eric Jacobsen (480) 554-6078
Mr Ducan Kitchin +1 503 264 2727
Mr Uriel Lemberger +972 (4) 8655701
Dr Ali Sadri (858) 385-4571
Dr Adrian Stephens +44 1223 763457
Dr Chin C Tsien +1 858 385 4317

Dr Jesse Walker +1 503 712 1849

ps. Alternatively if someone wants a real challenge, perhaps it is
time to reverse engineer these firmwares, which is totally legal."

The archive posting can be found here: