iwlwifi: What this means for GPL/FreeBSD-dual-licensed free "drivers" but nonfree "firmware"?

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Iscritto: 09/13/2017

My wifi card uses iwlwifi "driver" that's libre but this needs nonfree "firmware".
On Parabola, the system reports "free firmware missing, nonfree firmware loading disable" then the wifi card doesn't work at all.
So where are the differences between "drivers" and "firmware"? I just know little to low-levelled hardware stuff.

Magic Banana

I am a member!

Iscritto: 07/24/2010

Both firmware and drivers are software. Drivers are executed on the main processor. Firmware is executed on the devices (those which have their own processors). The firmware can be on a ROM/EPROM/flash memory in the peripheral (for instance the BIOS/EFI) or it can be a file the kernel sends to the peripheral (as those in the "firmware" directory of Linux). In the second case, the firmware can obviously be updated. Not necessarily in the first case (the BIOS/EFI can).

With your Wifi chipset, you are in the second case and the firmware is not free. It should, to respect your essential freedoms.