Asking for a potential friend to take advantage of a friend-making opportunity.

Tom Callaway would like you to write to Broadcom, a wireless hardware manufacturer, asking for driver software to run on a GNU/Linux system. This would mean that GNU/Linux users (perhaps users of other OSes as well) could use Broadcom hardware without having to reverse-engineer how the hardware works.

I wrote Broadcom the following:

I would like you to release any and all specifications which are needed to operate Broadcom wireless hardware completely with free software.

I’m not asking you to provide software to do this job. Let the others in the free software community take on the task of writing the drivers, firmware, and seeing to their maintenance.

I’m asking for information that could be used to develop such software. This information should be provided without non-disclosure requirements or any other restrictions that would prevent developing and distributing free software support for your hardware.

I would like to recommend the use of your hardware to my clients and friends. But I can’t do that unless there is free software to run your hardware. Reverse-engineering your hardware proceeds apace, but you have the opportunity to make friends here. Release the information you already have to the world without NDA or other restriction, and you will quickly make friends in the free software community.

I don’t mind benefiting from reverse-engineering efforts. I’d rather people have the information they need to write the software they want because then more software projects can benefit. With the information I asked for, OpenBSD could write their own Broadcom drivers and ship them under their preferred license with OpenBSD. GNU/Linux users could have GPL-covered drivers that were correct according to the spec written by Broadcom (of course, favoring how Broadcom hardware actually works where the actual operation conflicts with the documentation).