proprietary firmware

Lally Singh lally.singh at
Fri Feb 8 09:46:14 CET 2008

On Feb 7, 2008 8:32 PM, Wolfgang Spraul <wolfgang at> wrote:
> He suggested we treat any chipset with proprietary firmware as a black-
> box, a circuit. He suggested we ignore the firmware inside. If the
> firmware is buggy and the vendor needs the ability to update the
> firmware, we instead ask the vendor to reduce the firmware to the bare
> minimum, so that it can be very simple and bug free, and move the rest
> of the logic into the GPL'ed driver running on the main CPU. This way
> we completely avoid the issue of distributing proprietary firmware
> updates and binary firmware updaters with restrictive licensing that
> load only cryptographically signed firmware.

While I see the benefits here, it seems that we're sacrificing CPU
time, power usage, and lowered utilization of other devices on the
phone to get over a license issue -- a technical resolution to a legal

Before jumping the gun on them, perhaps a more in-depth discussion (or
at least a poll) into which ones we move into a cpu-run GPL driver vs
running on a different chip we have to use as is?

Maybe we can reach a consensus on which of these it really matters.
I'm not sure how many of us would really care about sacrificing CPU
for things we may not care about hacking.

IMHO, if I could have it both ways, an option of loading a
cryptographically signed black-box firmware onto the chip vs a minimal
firmware+gpl driver would be nice.  Give us both files and let us
decide as we go.

That'd be the dream situation.  Second would be doing a vote to see
which one of these we'd actually care about.  e.g. I donno if many
here would like to push a GPS correlator onto the CPU if we could get
ephemeris from the regular firmware when we wanted.  OTOH, GSM hacking
would be fun, but I donno how much is legal :-(

H. Lally Singh
Ph.D. Candidate, Computer Science
Virginia Tech

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