mccpi
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:16 am

Binary Blob?

Sun Jun 17, 2018 6:34 pm

Hi,

hopefully my first Raspberry -- a Raspberry Pi Zero W -- will be delivered to me tommorrow... :) :) :)

From early readings about the first Raspberry Pi I think I remember (carefully expressed here...), that
the Raspberian Linux OS contain closed sourced "binary blobs".

Is this still the case?
Or is Raspberian fully OpenSource in the meanwhile...?

Thanks a lot for you help and your patient which has questions before haveing his own Pi... :)

Cheers!
Meino

ghans
Posts: 7878
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:30 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Binary Blob?

Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:57 pm

The Raspberry Pi needs a BLOB to boot. Without it can't boot. This BLOB is also GPU firmware at the same time. Without the firmware the camera, video and 3D acceleration won't work. The 3D parts are currently getting rewritten as DRM/Mesa3D driver which is completely open-source.

The WiFi chip on certain Raspberry Pi models also needs closed source firmware.

ghans
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mccpi
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:16 am

Re: Binary Blob?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:53 am

Hi ghans,

thanks for the information! :)

Do I interpret this correctly when I think that the Raspi will
be able to boot "freely" (that is: based on OpenSource software
only) when the rewritten 3D code is finished?

Or are we bound to the good will (supporting Linux and Raspi)
of the manufacturer of the chip til the end of his support?

What do you think ?

Cheers
Meino

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rpdom
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Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Re: Binary Blob?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:37 am

It's only the 3D video drivers that are being written as Open Source. The bootcode and some of the other bits will still need the closed blob. (For now, at least. The RPF have managed to get Broadcom to agree release a lot of previously closed information about the SoC).

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piglet
Posts: 911
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:16 pm

Re: Binary Blob?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:16 am

It's basically the bits that other manufactures also have - but shove into firmware areas of their hardware so it's not so obvious. It's nothing to worry about.

ghans
Posts: 7878
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:30 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Binary Blob?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:52 pm

Please note that the Raspberry Pi is one of the few SBCs where the manufacturer themself update the kernel multiple times per year and apply fixes regularly. Raspberry Pi also upstreams lots of their work on Raspberry-specific drivers.

ghans
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jamesh
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Raspberry Pi Engineer & Forum Moderator
Posts: 24162
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: Binary Blob?

Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:12 pm

The RPF have full access to the SoC firmware source, so we do all the support in that area. The SoC manufacturer does not work on our firmware, mainly because a lot of the people who know how it works now work for us after Broadcom shut down the VC4 team.

There is also firmware for the wireless chip. We do not have access to that, all work for that is done by Cypress.

We also do a lot of the Pi specific Linux kernel code, although occasionally third parties do contribute - it's all OSS after all.
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