Echo issue on OM2008.08 solved

Steve Mosher steve at
Thu Oct 9 01:00:30 CEST 2008

  you covered it pretty well.  There are some finer points that I'll get 
clarification on shortly

Alastair Johnson wrote:
> Michael Zanetti wrote:
>> On Sunday 31 August 2008 15:50:05 Al Johnson wrote:
>>> The patch turns on the echo and noise suppression capabilities in the GSM
>>> chipset using one of the hidden and NDA's AT commands someone kindly posted
>>> on the hardware list.
>> Just for my understanding: I thought that on my openmoko-phone even the 
>> hardware is supposed to be free and open. How can it be than, that there are 
>> "hidden commands" and NDA's?
>> I read somewhere (long time ago - before the FR reached its birthday) that 
>> there might be some pieces of hardware not open such as the GSM chip. I guess 
>> exactly this is the case. Could someone experienced to NDA's, copyright laws, 
>> GPL violations and so on please explain me how exactly this is handled here?
> I'm sure someone from openmoko will correct me if I'm wrong, but I'll 
> have a go. The aim is to be as open as practicable, and they are more 
> open than anything else I know of.
> Companies hold copyright on their documentation, and can grant or deny 
> the right to copy that documentation. Ideally this would be both public 
> and redistributable, but this is often not the case. They may make it 
> public but not redistributable, or keep it entirely private, disclosing 
> it only under some variety of nondisclosure agreement.
> NDA is a very general description, and any NDA will detail what can and 
> can't be disclosed under what conditions. It is quite possible for an 
> NDA to allow documentation to be used in writing GPL code. I gather from 
> discussions on the list that the NDA for the Glamo would allow Openmoko 
> to rewrite the documentation and release the rewrite, but not the 
> original documentation. This may seem bizarre, but it allows SMedia to 
> keep control of their documents, and to disclaim liability for errors in 
> anything disclosed.
> GSM firmware will never be fully open unless national telecoms 
> regulators decide to relax their rules. The GSM modem is in effect a 
> separate device with its own firmware that we talk to through a serial 
> interface. It just happens to be on the same board. The commands that 
> the modem has to deal with are set out in a number of GSM standards. On 
> top of this there are commands specific to this chipset/firmware, some 
> of which Openmoko have documentation for under an NDA. This appears to 
> let them use the commands in GPL code and to answer specific questions, 
> but not to release a description of the whole command set. It seems 
> there are further commands, such as those controlling AEC, that are not 
> mentioned in the documents Openmoko have.
> Openmoko are walking a tightrope here. Open is a new word to chipset 
> manufacturers in the telecoms arena, and some understand more than 
> others. Until they can be educated there will be compromises to be made, 
> and decisions may not always work out as well as they initially 
> appeared. Certain features that people expect may not be possible in an 
> open phone right now. This applied to wifi for GTA01 as there was no 
> sufficiently low power wifi chip with an open driver. The problems with 
> the binary blob for the GTA01 gps have made those clearly unacceptable, 
> but 3D acceleration without a binary blob is currently unobtainable in a 
> mobile with 480x640 resolution. In the meantime they're heading in the 
> right direction and researching the most open options available - see 
> for examples. With luck they 
> will manage to convince manufacturers of the advantages of openness 
> along the way.
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