Mr. R said:
I think an effort should be made to avoid proprietary firmware modules.
For example I use Atheros (ath9k) Wi-Fi cards in my PC computers. They work great out of the box with GNU/Linux/UNIX and with Wicd and NM. Atheros also releases their firmware under the ISC, which is great–it makes sense. And finally, they are really cheap for Wireless 802.11 N cards.
Excuses like assembly code is "unreadable" and "can't be documented" is bullcrap.
But really, I am not saying that RP Project should reinvent the wheel and make their own Wi-Fi module, just demand them to make better choices to choose a "Linux-friendly" Wi-Fi adapter, so freedom users don"t have to use a Dongle or SDIO, or have to opt-in for Ethernet.
I think now I have reconsidered buying one until it is advertised as free hardware too.
Since the choice of Wifi adapter (USB) is entirely up to the user, not sure what that has to do with the Raspi itself. It's pretty easy to download firmware for all the adapters I've tried (sudo apt-get install firmware-realtek for example). Free as in beer though. You don't have access to the course code, which I don't care about anyway.
One built in to the board (if that ever occurs) will probably be from the same manufacturer as the SoC, Broadcom. Or maybe any future SoC will have wireless built in anyway.
Not sure any one has said assembly code is unreadable, or cannot be documented. That certainly not the case - it is readable, and it is documented. It's just that the documents on the GPU part of the SoC are not available to the general public. And as Simon said, it's a custom vector assembler, so for anyone outside Broadcom, fairly unreadable anyway. Actually, having thought about it, some of the code on some of the more esoteric cores in the GPU is in fact unreadable - at least, I cannot make head nor tail of it!
When it comes down to it, cost of the board trumps avoidance of proprietary software.
Principal Software Engineer at Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
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