GPLv3 and Mobile Phones

Josef Wolf jw at
Tue Dec 19 23:31:59 CET 2006

On Sun, Dec 10, 2006 at 09:11:18PM +0000, Dave Crossland wrote:
[ ... ]
> Oh dear.
> Again, I quote from the blog post I quoted I started this thread:
> "The deal is, if [FIC] want to retain the ability to modify the
> software, they have to let [users like us] modify it too."
> While this 'deal' is a requirement of GPLv3 licensed code, and doesnt
> apply to the propriety system-on-a-chip in the FIC handset, because,
> as you say,
> >Protocol stacks, even really mature ones like Ti's still have their fair
> >share of bugs. Really you need to think of the GSM part as
> >complete (proprietary) system. It just uses AT commands to talk
> >with the application processor.
> This presents a problem for free software in the same way that
> non-free BIOS software presents a problem. [1]

Unfortunately, the details about the neo hardware are not disclosed yet.
But AFAIK, the module in question is a separate "modem" communicating
via AT-commands over a serial connection with the main CPU.  I don't
see a big difference to the types of modems that were common two decades
ago.  You ever blamed trailblazer/us-robotics/zyxel for their sources
not beeing GPL?

Our interface is the serial line.  As long as this (the AT commands) is
well documented, I don't see a major problem...  Let the modem be exactly
what it is: just a modem, beeing accessed via AT commands over a serial

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