[gta02-core] OT: N900

Christopher Friedt chrisfriedt at gmail.com
Sat Aug 29 14:07:55 CEST 2009

On Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 11:20 PM, Dave Ball <openmoko at underhand.org> wrote:

> Ack. Binary is evil

I agree - binary drivers are a evil (but still better than nothing for the
average end-user who never sees a line of source code).

Binary drivers are a hinderence to the rest of the system. If one wants to
utilize the functionality provided by a given driver, one is often pinned to
an already outdated ABI, kernel, etc, halting updates from the continuously
evolving open-source codebase. I can't remember all of the 'elements of open
source software freedoms' as per the definition, but I'm sure that takes
away at least one of them.

On the positive side though, TI (Qualcomm?, Samsung?) has still been doing a
great job pushing Linux on their devices, especially if you consider how
open (most) of their documentation is, and they have integrated 3D silicon
into their chips (most of the newer SoCs do). Even the Glamo people were
kind enough to open up slightly, even if their hardware had some
shortcomings. I'm confident that the big players will open up too, at some
point in the future, either by assisting the community in providing some OSS
driver code, or at least facilitating someone from the community to write
the driver for them.

All it really takes for a decent open-source 3D driver, is for one
(hopefully independent and well-skilled in FLOSS) graphics engineer to sign
an NDA, agreeing not to redistribute the documentation, even via code
comments, sign another agreement stating that they have not seen or been
given any proprietary source code, and then spend a good chunk of time
actually writing the driver. That's entirely publishable in the open-source
world, and I really hope that Imagination (PowerVR) and other such graphics
companies start making that common practise. The key to that is having
decent documentation, of course. Companies probably avoid this practise
because they're afraid of exposing their 'intellectual property' and / or
silicon design by exposing their API (not just the ABI).

*NewsFlash* (for fearful companies): There's a standardized API for OpenGL,
meaning that (almost) anyone with an EE degree can make (almost) the same
graphics silicon as you have,  and a decent EE can even hide most of the
proprietary technology in hardware.

On the topic of (non-)proprietary hardware, things of this nature really do
give me a lot of appreciation for the Open Graphics
OC - H264 <http://www.opencores.org/project,oc-h264-encoder>, and
OpenCores.Org <http://www.opencores.org> in general ... and GTA02-Core for
that matter !

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