Richard's Dream and Institutionalized Mental Illness
Way back in the very olden days, or so the story goes, Richard M. Stallman was motivated to launch the Free Software movement because of something that afflicts us to this day- crappy binary-only printer drivers. How's that for innovation?
Ever since microchips were invented they've been worming their way into
everything- toasters, washing machines, cookstoves, timepieces,
agricultural machinery, factory machines, you name it, it's controlled
by microchips. Cars and trucks have dozens of them controlling
different subsystems. My old '95 diesel pickup is powered by a
programmable engine that is used for all kinds of different jobs, such
as ambulances, heavy hauling, and plain old pickup-trucking. These
engines leave the factory programmed to specific performance standards.
You can buy devices to re-program your engine on the fly, such as for
maximum fuel economy or more power. Very handy when you're driving a
6500-pound behemoth with no load, or pulling a trailer full of big
animals over mountain passes.
is vendor's annoying, no, make that pathological mania for secrecy.
Another gadget you can get is one to read and decipher the trouble
codes emitted by your vehicle's engine. There is just a tiny bit of
built-in data storage in your vehicle, so if you don't capture the information quickly it's lost,
which makes diagnosing a transient problem ever so much fun. Auto
manufacturers hate these code-readers and try to keep their codes as Big Important
Sekkrits. Which is another question I often ponder- when did
manufacturers and retailers decide they had the right to control what
we do with our own possessions? Fortunately, in the automotive world
someone always blabs the Sekkrit Codes and posts them on the Internet.
will now meander back to my main point, which is twofold: the struggles
for freedom and common sense are inextricably linked and never-ending,
and embedded Linux programming is where the action is.
"Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software" is available free online, http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596002879/