fjr
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pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:47 pm

Is there a listing that lists pi 2 software that must find a free software solution in order to get a fsf hardware approval? And can I get an estimate about how impossible or difficult it would be to get free software solutions for the listet non free software? I ask, because as a layperson I have investigated the subject for computer hardware in general. And for my part I have not gotten a clear answer. Maybe because there is no clear answer. If I understood it correctly from a video, then freedombox developers provided some free software pieces on the pi, but a developer said it was highly difficult. Another computer person was able in advance to say, for a certain amount of money, that he could write free software for the wandboard's gpu. What are the options for pi 2? Thanks.
Last edited by fjr on Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ghans
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:57 pm

The GPU firmware (which doubles as initial bootloader)
is the main and only problem. It is all secret code and hard
to replace since the initial boot process , video decoding ,
3D acceleration (for now) , camera driver and camera ISP
all are controlled through it. I have no idea if all the code
is direct Broadcom property , though.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:58 pm

Because the firmware is changeable, its regard as software by the FSF, so the make the board FSF compliant we would need to make the firmware non-upgradeable.

So, in effect, in order to be Free, we would need to reduce functionality.

Well done FSF. Make life worse for 4.49M people so 0.01M people can feel better about it being free.
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:42 pm

just occured to me - as broadcom seems to have made the BMC2836 specifically for the RPi2, could they have not made it to boot the arms first? then the blob would not have been needed, and it would have been a more standard system. Only reason not to do this would be to make the RPi2 as much like the RPi as possible - however the blob has no use in itself, so you have to wonder if the blob has been kept ....

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:58 pm

I'm with jamesh on this.

In some kind of utopia all software would be open source, all designs of everything would be freely available. Hardware or software. Well it's not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, I'm sure you can obtain a totally FSF approved Linux distribution and install and boot it on your PC.

But, wait a minute. In order to install that it has at least run through the closed source software in your DVD player's controller. It's for sure gone by the closed source software in your hard drive or SSD's controller. Not to mention the closed source BIOS that has booted your PC and started all this. Oh and by the way, your Intel processor has replaceable microcode that runs the whole show which is very closed source.

So now you are up and running. Now you can access the net through the closed source software in your network card. You can get keyboard and mouse input through the closed source code on those devices.

Used to be that those peripheral's firmware was actually firm and unchangeable. Quite often not so any more.

So, tell me again. Why all the fuss about the closed bits of the Raspberry Pi?

Why not start with the closed nature of the very PC you are using to type your complaints into?
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:22 pm

summers wrote:just occured to me - as broadcom seems to have made the BMC2836 specifically for the RPi2, could they have not made it to boot the arms first? then the blob would not have been needed, and it would have been a more standard system. Only reason not to do this would be to make the RPi2 as much like the RPi as possible - however the blob has no use in itself, so you have to wonder if the blob has been kept ....
Actually, anyone can buy the 2836, it's wasn't solely made for the Pi, although its clearly a good fit.
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:19 pm

I've just called Stallman, and he'll be along in a month or six to 'explain' the 'evils' of 'prah-pryatary softweeeaaaaarr' (spoken in his NY accent).

Oh please... for RMS to be totally satisfied, and ethically correct, he'd have to personally monitor the sourcing and production of EVERY SINGLE chemical and process used to make every single constituent part of the Pi, monitor the environmental impact of said parts being shipped... this goes way beyond all sanity and business-like practice.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:25 pm

jamesh wrote:Because the firmware is changeable, its regard as software by the FSF, so the make the board FSF compliant we would need to make the firmware non-upgradeable.

So, in effect, in order to be Free, we would need to reduce functionality.

Well done FSF. Make life worse for 4.49M people so 0.01M people can feel better about it being free.
Clearly there either needs to be a new definition of "Free" or perhaps just ignoring FSF like everyone else does is the best course.
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:30 pm

DougieLawson wrote:
jamesh wrote:Because the firmware is changeable, its regard as software by the FSF, so the make the board FSF compliant we would need to make the firmware non-upgradeable.

So, in effect, in order to be Free, we would need to reduce functionality.

Well done FSF. Make life worse for 4.49M people so 0.01M people can feel better about it being free.
Clearly there either needs to be a new definition of "Free" or perhaps just ignoring FSF like everyone else does is the best course.


It's DEFINITELY the best course, otherwise you couldn't even take a breath without referring to the FSF. I admire RMS' candour and his loyalty to the cause - he's a very fair and nice bloke, but business is business, and you don't make money parroting the same lecture at universities, you make money by selling products and services.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:22 am

Q&A with Linus Torvalds at DebConf14 in Portland, USA, autumn of 2014. (Also on Youtube)

At some point in the video Linus says that the FSF is "full of crazy bigoted people", that they are "dishonest", "downright immoral", "they did some really sneaky stuff", "literally lied to people", and that he wants nothing to do with the FSF ever again.

To be fair, Richard Stallman helped the OpenSource movement a lot. Also Linus did and does, and he's got the more practical approach, which I prefer, too. But I'm afraid without the Richards and Linus'es we would all be using M$ or G$$gle only today.

Back on topic: a totally free Pi would be something. And Mr. Upton said several times they're going to try to free it step by step, as they did by for example opening the Videocore-IV details.

{edited: added Linus' quotations}
Last edited by Fidelius on Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:44 am

I think (personal opinion) , had the Pi remained a fairly niche product, it would be more open than it is, but given the commercial success, there now needs to be a certain amount of 'protection' to maintain the revenue stream (which goes entirely to education). As things become more popular, you need more protection against cloners etc.

That said, it is pretty damn open! I can do almost anything I want with it.
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:09 am

fjr wrote:Is there a listing that lists pi 2 software that must find a free software solution in order to get a fsf hardware approval?
Just for interest, if the OP's stil following this:

https://www.fsf.org/campaigns/priority- ... ngineering

Raspberry Pi's mentioned on that page; I believe that's the FSF's position on what they are looking for. (It is, as stated, just a one-line requirement to do an alternative bit of code so the machine can boot without the manufacturer's special piece of code.)

I personally think this is only important if you fear "backdoors" introduced by dodgy governments, etc. Doesn't bother me, as I'm not doing anything they would be remotely interested in, and none of my raspis are networked anyway! :lol:

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:36 am

macbreak,
Oh please... for RMS to be totally satisfied, and ethically correct, he'd have to personally monitor the sourcing and production of EVERY SINGLE chemical and process used to make every single constituent part of the Pi, monitor the environmental impact of said parts being shipped... this goes way beyond all sanity and business-like practice.
Where do you get that from? Any links to where Stallman says such things?

Stallman is all about software. And all about how software can be used to gain control. And how perhaps it's a better idea if we the users have control instead of some corporation, government or other entity. His conclusion is that we need Free and Open Source software.

The logic of all this is undeniable.

Having heard him speak a few times and read his writings I don't recall him ever straying out of his field of expertise, software.

Stallman may well come over as a "nut job" to those who don't get his ideas, but you are attributing extra nuttynesss to him that I don't believe he has, you have made it up for yourself.

Fidelius,
To be fair, Richard Stallman helped the OpenSource movement a lot.
You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. If anything it's the other way around. Stallman does not even like the Open Source movement (Note the capitalization there).

Stallman started on his Free Software mission in 1984.

The Open Source movement became a thing in 1998.

jamesh,
...but given the commercial success, there now needs to be a certain amount of 'protection' to maintain the revenue stream...
I find this statement very disturbing. What do you mean by "protection"?

It certainly flies in the face of a statement from The Raspberry Pi Foundation this week that said "We want the Pi to become more open as time goes by" (not exact words). Was that from Eben himself? I forget.

Ah, here it is in the very Pi 2 launch announcement itself http://www.raspberrypi.org/raspberry-pi-2-on-sale/. See the FAQ:

Are you still using VideoCore?
Yes. VideoCore IV 3d is the only publicly documented 3d graphics core for ARM-based SoCs, and we want to make Raspberry Pi more open over time, not less.

I have no idea who authored that.
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:48 am

Heater wrote:It certainly flies in the face of a statement from The Raspberry Pi Foundation this week that said "We want the Pi to become more open as time goes by" (not exact words). Was that from Eben himself? I forget.
JamesH did state he was giving a personal opinion. Right before the bit you quoted.

Is it just my imagination, or is this forum getting more aggressive this week? :?

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:51 am

When I order a new bit of kit, I go to Amazon and follow this process:

1. Find a product with more than five stars.
2. Ensure that no more than 10% of reviews are 1 or 2 stars.
3. Read the four and five star reviews to ensure that a sufficient number are not "it arrived on time", "it's a pretty colour" or "I've had it for thirty seconds and it works great."
4. Read the one and two star reviews to find out what the weak features are and what the likely DOA symptoms are.

Then I make a considered decision based on whether I am willing to accept the weak points and DOA risks given the positive features.

The FSF serves the same purpose as those negative reviews. It holds people accountable for every slight fault with absolute adherence to a pure standard. As such it is very useful for those wanting to consider such matters in their choices of software and hardware. However all such deliberations are compromises; how much weight they give to such matters is up to the individual.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:56 am

I'd just like to add the FSF are not mad; they do have a list of hardware which does exist that they consider free. (I think I saw the Cubie on it, but I'll leave people who care to check this. I have looked at the FSF site several times over the years and sympathise with some of their aims.)

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:22 am

Ravenous wrote: JamesH did state he was giving a personal opinion. Right before the bit you quoted.

Is it just my imagination, or is this forum getting more aggressive this week? :?
Considerably more aggressive, for reasons we are not sure about. The MS announcement has certain riled people up, there are a lot of 'haters gonna hate' out there. People who have just bought a B+ are not happy. It should be a good week for everyone. New Pi, new OS. What's not to like?

But the bans are going to be handed out (and some have already gone out) to some people who should know better, unless they reign it in a bit. I expect a lot of Twitter abuse in the near future as the people who insist on going on about stuff they have been warned away from, find themselves banned (and you deserved it) and resort to other mediums.
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:32 am

Heater wrote:jamesh,
...but given the commercial success, there now needs to be a certain amount of 'protection' to maintain the revenue stream...
I find this statement very disturbing. What do you mean by "protection"?

It certainly flies in the face of a statement from The Raspberry Pi Foundation this week that said "We want the Pi to become more open as time goes by" (not exact words).
As I understand it, (I am not an insider but I was here on these fora,) when the RaspPi was conceived, the Foundation were going to be making 10,000 of them themselves. They only had the funds to make that many. At that point they intended to make the PCB design public so that others could make them. Because there was such demand, it was necessary to bring in RS and Farnell to manufacture the boards on an ongoing basis. That is a whole different model than was conceived to begin with and it allows the Foundation to aid the education sector far more than they ever expected. However it has meant that the board design can not be published in order to protect the revenue stream. It is also necessary for the coherence of the community that has grown up around the RaspPi that fragmentation is kept out of the market.

However, the VideoCore would never have been opened as much as it has been, were it not for the huge RaspPi community.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:45 am

rurwin wrote:
Heater wrote:jamesh,
...but given the commercial success, there now needs to be a certain amount of 'protection' to maintain the revenue stream...
I find this statement very disturbing. What do you mean by "protection"?

It certainly flies in the face of a statement from The Raspberry Pi Foundation this week that said "We want the Pi to become more open as time goes by" (not exact words).
As I understand it, (I am not an insider but I was here on these fora,) when the RaspPi was conceived, the Foundation were going to be making 10,000 of them themselves. They only had the funds to make that many. At that point they intended to make the PCB design public so that others could make them. Because there was such demand, it was necessary to bring in RS and Farnell to manufacture the boards on an ongoing basis. That is a whole different model than was conceived to begin with and it allows the Foundation to aid the education sector far more than they ever expected. However it has meant that the board design can not be published in order to protect the revenue stream. It is also necessary for the coherence of the community that has grown up around the RaspPi that fragmentation is kept out of the market.

However, the VideoCore would never have been opened as much as it has been, were it not for the huge RaspPi community.
A very good summary.
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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:15 am

Heater wrote:Fidelius,
To be fair, Richard Stallman helped the OpenSource movement a lot.
You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. If anything it's the other way around. Stallman does not even like the Open Source movement (Note the capitalization there).

Stallman started on his Free Software mission in 1984.
The Open Source movement became a thing in 1998.
"Note the capitalization", well, I'm sorry that important details of the English language can be missed more or often by us non-native-English-speakers. So I meant my statement as a general statement because sophistications I'm unable to manage in English, unfortunately. We should have met before Babylon.

So, what I meant was that, generally speaking, Richard Stallman did help the OpenSource movement a lot in a practical sense (if he likes it or not), since for example so many OpenSource projects use the GNU General Public License which was mainly written by Richard Stallman from the FSF, if I remember correctly. In my linked Q&A with Linus, he (Linus) praises the GPL v2 for a good reason, whilst he rejects the GPL v3.
This having said, I think you usually make good points in your articles about open, free, etc software and systems (as far as I understand it).

Rurwin's description of how he orders a new bit of kit at Amazon, is a nice one (and also very familiar to people like me), and a good analogy I think.

Also the moderators' background descriptions of how the Pi came to what it is today, or how and why this happend and this not, are very interesting and show us outsiders a lot, also that often things are way more complex than we simple humans think in the first instance.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:22 am

Fidelius wrote:So, what I meant was that, generally speaking, Richard Stallman did help the OpenSource movement a lot in a practical sense
Correct. If I remember correctly, the GNU project had a lot of Unix compatible, but free, bits of software available for many years. Linus T "just" wrote the first version of a kernel to run behind it, to allow the first open version of Unix on 386 based machines of the time.

Current Linux stuff is really GNU/Linux. A lot of people forget that.

(Sorry for the diversion. Pretty sure we answerred the OPs question anyway!)

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:17 pm

RMS' "crusade" is a good thing, even if he doesn't win all the time. It takes the radicals to make the somewhat less than moderates appear sane and be accepted.

I find it ironic that, by having a blob that can (and has been) updated over time as just another file instead of burned into Silicon (even if said Silicon can be updated, as BIOS can be) makes the Pi "not Free", where if it were harder to change (e.g. EEPROM), the Pi would be "Free software" driven.

While I understand the concern, I think RMS is making best the enemy of good. In the mean time, I am happy to use Linux (Free Software) on the Pi regardless of what the FSF thinks of it.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:22 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:I find it ironic that, by having a blob that can (and has been) updated over time as just another file instead of burned into Silicon (even if said Silicon can be updated, as BIOS can be) makes the Pi "not Free", where if it were harder to change (e.g. EEPROM), the Pi would be "Free software" driven.
If the link below is what we are all referring to it would seem that's not strictly the case and it is more nuanced than that. A BIOS has to also use free software -

http://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/endorsement/criteria

It seems to me what they are saying is that, if it could be updated, then it must be free. Whether that's held on disk, in external or internal Flash or Eeprom. Only if it were forever unchangeable by being burned into ROM and necessarily that way would it be deemed acceptable through being unavoidable.

So no matter, what, while the Pi Binary Blob remains secret and not burned into ROM, the Pi won't ever meet the RYF requirements.

Not that I think it matters. The Pi is more than 'open enough' for most people.

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:52 pm

Let's forget the infamous Pi Blob as a GPU driver. If nothing else it is what boots the OS on a Pi.

In that way it plays the role of the BIOS on a PC. Which are mostly closed source secret blobs.

I guess the FSF would never bless as PC and it's BIOS as totally Free software no matter if the OS booted is itself all Free according to their criteria. Quite rightly so.

So now we have a problem with the Pi in that the Blob is an essential part of the SD card that any OS is booted from.

So it seems something like Raspbian may well be Free software but the total Pi machine is not.

Or have I missed a point here.

Personally I'm not too fussed about it. In fact I'd rather trust the Rasperry Pi Foundation with their binary blob than any PC BIOS vendor.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: pi 2 what software changes to get fsf approval?

Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:23 pm

Heater wrote:I guess the FSF would never bless as PC and it's BIOS as totally Free software no matter if the OS booted is itself all Free according to their criteria. Quite rightly so.
I read once that rms used a special niche Netbook which was distinguished by having all-free firmwares.
http://richard.stallman.usesthis.com/

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