ShiftPlusOne
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:47 pm

Heater wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:43 pm
Does that mean I can now boot a Pi and run Linux without any closed source firmware blobs? Even if some features/performance are missing?
https://github.com/christinaa/rpi-open- ... boot-linux

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piglet
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:49 pm

I'm pretty sure you can't. Do you know how to source storage media to boot from which hasn't got closed source firmware on it?

ShiftPlusOne
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:52 pm

But to avoid giving people the wrong idea and to manage expectations, we do protect our IP when doing otherwise would just mean giving revenue away to clones (v2 camera crypto chip, lack of full schematics, firmware being licensed for use with Raspberry Pi hardware only and so on). So as others have said, the raspberry pi is not, and doesn't claim to be, open hardware.

fanoush
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:56 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:18 pm
In addition, I share the amusement that, by putting the firmware on the SD card instead of in ROM, the Pi doesn't meet the GNU definition of "open".
A lot have been said and repeated over and over about that (IMO quite silly) remark of RMS. Why still waste time with it? Did anyone asked him recently if he still agrees and even remembers it? And if yes, why bother? He said a lot of stuff people don't agree with. Some is notable, important and innovative, some not. This IMO belongs to the latter one.

fanoush
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:04 pm

ShiftPlusOne wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:47 pm
Heater wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:43 pm
Does that mean I can now boot a Pi and run Linux without any closed source firmware blobs? Even if some features/performance are missing?
https://github.com/christinaa/rpi-open- ... boot-linux
This was (years?) before Eric did all the VC4 KMS kernel stuff. I guess if someone tried today that with some fixes it could boot including video and everything that works with the kms (not fkms) driver. The mailbox and firmware driver in linux kernel would not work of course.

EDIT:
Also all the nifty config.txt functionality would go away, so I guess people just don't mind the blobs as it simply works. Reimplementing this and support all the oddities of each Pi model is a lot of work.

Heater
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:21 pm

piglet,
Do you know how to source storage media to boot from which hasn't got closed source firmware on it?
No. But it's not such a hurdle to format ones own media and put whatever one likes on it.

Building a boot loader is the sticking point it seems.

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:25 pm

fanoush wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:56 pm
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:18 pm
In addition, I share the amusement that, by putting the firmware on the SD card instead of in ROM, the Pi doesn't meet the GNU definition of "open".
A lot have been said and repeated over and over about that (IMO quite silly) remark of RMS. Why still waste time with it? Did anyone asked him recently if he still agrees and even remembers it? And if yes, why bother? He said a lot of stuff people don't agree with. Some is notable, important and innovative, some not. This IMO belongs to the latter one.
Yes and no. So long as RMS controls--or strongly influences--the FSF, his opinions, even if silly, can have important and lasting effects. The result of that is that running GNU Linux on WinTel PC hardware is an "open" system, while running GNU Linux on a Pi is not. Yet the Pi is considerably more open than the PC. This precludes the use of the Pi by "open source purists" that won't even blink at running standard PC hardware. So who is being "silly" here? RMS or the "true believers"? On which platform do OS providers have to jump through hoops to get the systems to run on new hardware (*cough* UEFI *cough*)?

Heater
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:46 pm

There is something of a distinction between a Pi and a PC.

As far as I'm aware it's still possible to boot a PC into Linux from a disk image that contains nothing but Free and Open Source software. Debian for example.

This is not the case with the Pi.

Ergo, the FSF is correct in it's judgement that Raspbian/Pi is not quite there.

I think it's all a bit murky though. What with PC's having their BIOS in FLASH that can be changed. And then needing all kind of firmware blobs if you want to get a lot of peripherals working.

Also, technically, firmware burned into ROM is equivalent to making the fixed connections in the hardware. Again things get murky as we pretty much don't use ROM now a days.

RMS has been pretty consistent in his views for a long time. As a result of them being guided by an overriding principle. I don't expect he will have changed his mind.

hippy
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:07 pm

mahjongg wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:59 pm
+1

Hippy is losing some karma points with me with this silly remark.... As if the fact that its closed hardware is comparable with genocide... :roll:
I am sorry. I wasn't making such a comparison and I regret it if it has been taken that way.

I was simply expressing my dislike for relativistic justifications which I don't find legitimate.

As it seems I must have expressed myself somewhat badly I have retracted what I posted. And I apologise if what I wrote or the way I expressed it offended anyone.

LTolledo
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:16 pm

I doubt the OP will be coming back to join the discussions here.....
"Don't come to me with 'issues' for I don't know how to deal with those
Come to me with 'problems' and I'll help you find solutions"

Some people be like:
"Help me! Am drowning! But dont you dare touch me nor come near me!"

fanoush
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:48 pm

Heater wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:46 pm
RMS has been pretty consistent in his views for a long time. As a result of them being guided by an overriding principle.
Well code is code, when it runs it does something. When you cannot change what it does (replace it) it is closed. Why it should matter what storage it is loaded from? How burning the very same code into ROM fixes the problem? It is clear it makes it even worse. So If he was really not misquoted then his view is everything but consistent. He contradicts himself. That quote about ROM goes directly against his principle of free software. It simply "does not compute"! Anyway, lot of time was already wasted with similar reasoning so I will stop now :-)


As for running linux kernel without blobs, when thinking more about what I said in previous post - lot of model specific stuff is in device tree so if open firmware would boot e.g u-boot (which would only have serial port I/O support, not video) it could load device trees and run vc4-kms variant of kernel which takes over most of VC4 hardware including video. Apart from what is already not supported in vc4-kms mode like camera and codecs it may be also analog audio. Also we would miss SDRAM refresh calibration and throttling CPU based on temperature and power voltage. What else?

Heater
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:27 pm

fanoush,
...code is code, ... Why it should matter what storage it is loaded from?
Back in the day the answer to that question was clear cut.

Processors, memory and other hardware was actually hardware, physically connected transistors and such. Such hardware might include ROMS. ROMS were made by physically soldering diodes onto boards carrying a matrix of connections. Later they were physically blown connections on ROM chips. Or think of the Apollo computers where ROM was created by the pattern of threading wires through ferrite cores. Once that physical device was made it was immutable, as immutable as the transistors the processor is made from. As such what may have been software is not software anymore. It's very much part of the hardware.

Software was that mutable state one loaded into rewritable memory. It remained software.

Life was simple in that respect. It makes perfect sense that RMS and the Free Software Foundation make a distinction between what is software and what is hardware and concern themselves with the former. There is no contradiction there.

Today it's not so clear.

"firmware" is no longer firm, living in ROM. It's quite likely a binary blob loaded into a device's RAM at start up.

Meanwhile hardware is not so hard. Most hardware today is created by writing what looks amazingly like software. Think Verilog, VHDL, Bluespec, Chisle, etc.

Thing is... software and hardware are in some logical way the same thing. Whatever you can do in software you can do in hardware. Hence over the years we see that what once was hardware functionality is subsumed into hardware, think floating point, vector maths, cryto algorithms, neural nets, etc, etc. The future is more of that, given that processors as we know them are not getting any faster.

Bottom line: In the modern world software is hardware, hardware is software. Both need to be open if you want Open.

W. H. Heydt
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:32 pm

Heater wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:46 pm
There is something of a distinction between a Pi and a PC.

As far as I'm aware it's still possible to boot a PC into Linux from a disk image that contains nothing but Free and Open Source software. Debian for example.
Well...depends on what sorts of definitions you use. Storage media (HDDs, SSDs, SD cards, USB sticks, etc.) all have controllers in them with software burned into the controller. None of that software is open source. With UEFI on the motherboard, you have to have a "valid" ID for it to allow booting. Some distros have gotten keys from MS to allow them to do that. Even then, there are devices that MS has locked down and you *can't* get a key that will permit you to install your OS of choice...it's Windows or nothing.
This is not the case with the Pi.
And from what I wrote above, I agree that it's not the same case with the Pi. With the Pi you can grab the blob and boot any OS you choose.
Ergo, the FSF is correct in it's judgement that Raspbian/Pi is not quite there.
Strictly my personal opinion, but the FSF are being idiots about this. Until they apply the same principles to all the embedded device controllers and the software to run them, plus the the various BIOSes (UEFI especially), they are favoring absolutely closed systems over something that you can replace at will (even if it's pretty hard to do--because of the reverse engineering problem). They are cutting off their collective noses to spite their collective faces. They should be throwing all manner of fits over embedded controllers and "secure" BIOSes.
I think it's all a bit murky though. What with PC's having their BIOS in FLASH that can be changed. And then needing all kind of firmware blobs if you want to get a lot of peripherals working.
Yes...so why should software loaded from an SD card (or other media) at every boot be considered "worse" than software that is in non-volatile memory physically attached to a system component? If it comes to that, shouldn't a CM be considered just as open (or more so) than a PC when the closed source software is loaded onto the on-board eMMC flash memory? Isn't that exactly what the PC BIOS/UEFI does?

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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:36 pm

Heater wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:27 pm
Once that physical device was made it was immutable, as immutable as the transistors the processor is made from. As such what may have been software is not software anymore. It's very much part of the hardware.
ROM-->PROM-->EPROM-->EEPROM.

Anyone else here remember EPROMs that were erased by exposing the Quartz window over the Silicon to UV light?

Heater
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:42 pm

Remember? I have here two boards on my desk with Intel 8086 processors loaded up with EPROMS. I have been pondering how I'm going to reprogram them for some weeks now.

EPROMS were the thing when I started work. That and loading from paper tape...

fanoush
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:59 pm

Heater wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:27 pm
Bottom line: In the modern world software is hardware, hardware is software. Both need to be open if you want Open.
But of course. And it was always like that. Everything vritten in verilog or any HDL is software too. And it always was. Every ASIC design is software.

You just draw line in the sand at some point in time and decide what currently matters to you and makes sense and keep the rest for future. Now there are FPGAs with open toolchain and implementing stuff like USB3, PCI-E, HDMI in open source verilog. You can design your PCB and let some house in china populate it for you in small quantities. In few years you will design your ASIC. So it is turtles (software) all the way down. I thought it is clear.

So with RMS - he had to draw the line somewhere too but then one needs to remember that it is just line in the sand.

EDIT:
And also there is no significant difference between software and speech and e.g. art or math. It is all just laws of nature and results of creative mind. So when you start drawing lines between them you soon hit some paradox that should give you a hint you should stop. Is your brain hardware or software? :-)
Last edited by fanoush on Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Heater
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:21 pm

fanoush,
But of course. And it was always like that. Everything vritten in verilog or any HDL is software too. And it always was..
What?

Ignoring the first million years of the development of computers. Up until the early 1980's processors were designed by electronics engineers, circuits drawn by hand on paper. That was still the case for micro-processors in the early 1980's. The GPL came into existence in 1986. Verilog did not exist before 1984 and became usable for chip synthesis later.

No, there was a very hard line between hardware and software at that time.

Today, not so much.

My take on all this is that Stallman wants that we own our machines and we control our machines. Back in the day that was about the software. Increasingly it's about both software and hardware.

fanoush
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:32 pm

Heater wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:21 pm
processors were designed by electronics engineers, circuits drawn by hand on paper.
I am surprised you don't see the similarity with what did programmers at that time. Or scientists. You just play with lego bricks until it fits and solves the problem.

Heater
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:42 pm

You are right. I don't see the similarity. Programmers did not use soldering irons :)

For generations now we have had those that do software and those that do hardware. Worlds apart.

It was something of a revelation to me in the early 1980's when I realized they were logically the same thing. (Baring the fact that software does actually need some hardware to run it).

When I used to bring this up during conversation at the time people started to look at me sideways.

Today things converge. Software guys are learning to write HDL to configure FPGA hardware attached to cloud services to get what they want done.

Interesting times.

jdb
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
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Re: Why must the raspberrypi be so proprietary?

Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:31 pm

LTolledo wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:16 pm
I doubt the OP will be coming back to join the discussions here.....
Correct.
It's been 24 hours and OP hasn't replied to a thread that's got dozens of replies (including from RPTL employees)

Locked, trollbait detected.
Rockets are loud.
https://astro-pi.org

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