proprietary firmware

joerg joerg.twinklephone at
Fri Feb 15 22:49:53 CET 2008

Am Fr  15. Februar 2008 schrieb Brandon Kruse:
> In that case it is not an open phone or platform. 
It's a philosophical question, where "open" has it's limits. E.g. you probably 
consider a plain vanilla x86 GNU/linux desktop system to be pretty much "true 
open". However i guess you have no idea at all of the firmware that's 
managing your harddisk in this system. That's for a simple reason: IDE 
interface is age old (and so all HD's (SATA, SCSII) inherited this way we are 
looking at these devices), it is "just working", and it's well documented. 
Virtually nobody cares about the firmware behind this interface, mainly 
because it doesn't have a chance to stop you from doing anything you like on 
the _main_system_. I'm almost certain there's a hacker somewhere out there, 
who likes to mod his HD so the head motors will produce funny sounds, and 
another one thinks he can tune transfer rates even another 10k/s. However i 
never seen FOSS HD firmware.

> It is well worth the   
> investigation to go fully open somehow IMO.
Sure. But it's a silly idea to try and force the subsystem manufacturers by 
refusing to support their closed source firmware updates. When Seagate comes 
with a DOS-only firmware updater to add some cool new features to their 
drives, OM says "No, it's not FOSS!". Seagate (or here, the chip fabs) don't 
care. But OM deprives NEO owners of any means to have a new firmware for 
these subsystems. If a user doesn't like to have closed source on his device, 
she is free delete or not install it. But OM will not achieve anything by 
refusing to provide closed source drivers. I think all they get is a huge 
number of returns, or less sales (at least for me). 
And OM(!) isn't willing or able to provide circuit diagrams, so any open 
drivers are extremely hard to develop. In my opinion they can't do both, 
refuse to support closed source updates *and* keep the hw specs closed. Not 
if they care about their customers.
Not to mention, NEO will not be "open" at all as long as the hardware is 
a 'big mystery'. A laugh to start with closed firmware topic.

> But I guess we could be like olpc and have a MOSTLY open platform  
> (wifi chip is not, as you could have guessed)
I'd like it more to see OM pushing manufacturers to provide a guaranteed API, 
which is specified by community, and not to care about _how_ the mfactrs 
achieve to fulfill this contract. Than to nag manufacturers to open the 
sources of firmware, "because we can do better, and do not want to use what 
we paid for".


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