The biggest threat to free software may be Moore's Law.
That's because while it's easy to get free applications and free operating systems, you can't get a free BIOS. And in the future that's all the software many systems will have.
Thus we have the Free Software Foundation's Free BIOS campaign. One result is LinuxBIOS, a hardware initialization and mini-kernel that can be booted from a cold start. But you have to install it yourself, which is no easy feat.
In a speech late last month in Brussels, Richard Stallmanat right said 2005 should be the year we make a Free BIOS a priority. Even IBM has so far refused to cooperate in this effort, he said.
In his speech Stallman was scathing toward Intel, "which has started a sham 'open source' BIOS project. The software consists of all the unimportant parts of of a BIOS, without the hard parts. It won't run, and doesn't bring us any closer to a BIOS that does run. It is just a distraction. By contrast, AMD cooperates pretty well."
Stallman added "You can help our campaign by buying AMD CPU chips and not buying Intel," meaning a campaign may have already begun. (A complete list of cooperative companies and compatible motherboards is on the FSF site.
Is this issue important to you? Are you now going to buy and specify AMD, while ignoring Intel, over the issue of a free BIOS? Let me know in Talkback.