[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [libreplanet-discuss] EOMA68 - libre software, libre hardware, and e

From: Koz Ross
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] EOMA68 - libre software, libre hardware, and eco-friendly too!
Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2016 19:54:20 +1200
User-agent: Mutt/1.6.1 (2016-04-27)

I contacted the project - here is the response that I received. Hopefully this
should clear up Cascardo's concerns (and anyone else's).

----- Forwarded message from "lkcl ." <> -----

Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2016 03:26:02 +0100
From: "lkcl ." <>
Cc: Christopher Waid <>, Crowd Supply 
Subject: Re: [Campaign Question] Near as I'm aware, the A20 ...

On Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 12:25 AM, Crowd Supply <> wrote: submitted a question about your project,
"Earth-friendly EOMA68 Computing Devices":

Near as I'm aware, the A20 comes with a Mali GPU, which as-current lacks a free
driver. Has your team resolved this somehow?

hiya koz,

we haven't - that's going to be down to either ARM to make their
minds up to provide the sources (and you can help there by contacting
ARM by telephone and taking up the receptionist's time by asking to
speak to someone about why they haven't provided the source: the more
money that they lose by having to pick up the phone the better), or
for someone to put the funds up for the three years necessary to keep
Luc Verhaegen full-time employed to carry out the necessary

it may surprise you to learn (as it certainly surprised me) that we
can still apply for RYF Certification on the Allwinner A20, as many
other people have tried to do in the past.  the basic criteria that
the FSF are looking for is, "how easy would it be for the average
end-user with no significant computing experience or knowledge to
ACCIDENTALLY install proprietary software without their knowledge i.e.
with no warnings from the OS about the potential dangers of the action
that they are about to take?"   in other words, Debian GNU/Linux may
never receive FSF Endorsement because when you run synaptics, the
package manager GUI presents you with incredibly easy options
including "non-free repository" and does not tell you or warn you "hey
you could end up being spied on or your privacy violated simply by
arbitrarily clicking this checkbox".

so in our favour are two things: firstly, we have no non-free
co-processors or peripherals.  the STM32F072 embedded controller has
full GPLv3+ licensed firmware and has been run as a truly libre
project right from the start.  you can check out the repository, you
can see the commit logs and you can see the discussions on the
libopencm3 mailing lists.  all other projects presented to the FSF
using Allwinner A20 SoCs have failed at this point because they have
included embedded WIFI ICs on-board which require proprietary firmware
to operate.  in direct contrast to this we are using USB for WIFI so
you can get products from ThinkPenguin that do not need proprietary
firmware blobs.  you can buy even modern Atheros 802.11n WIFI dongles
that even the complete source code for the firmware in the underlying
Atheros chipset, thanks to ThinkPenguin, which is amazing!

secondly, it turns out that the MALI GPU is entirely memory-mapped.
if you try to do "lsusb" or "cat /proc/cpuinfo" or any other kind of
exploration from userspace, if you haven't compiled up mali.ko you
LITERALLY cannot even SEE the MALI GPU from userspace.  guess what we
will not be doing? :)  we will not be adding CONFIG_MALI=y to the
linux kernel build process.  thus, it becomes literally impossible for
the average end-user to accidentally end up installing the proprietary
non-free MALI 3D GPU code.  this is why we believe that the special
exemption being applied for will be approved.. but ultimately that has
to be a decision made by the FSF.

but, given that we are targetting office, email and internet usage
for these computers, the lack of 3D is genuinely not a problem.  you
don't need 3D graphics to edit a spreadsheet, in other words.  that's
not to say that technically-aware people cannot compile their own
source code and include mali.ko: both we and the FSF recognise that
people have that absolute right to do that.  we just don't endorse it,
that's all.

hope that helps,


----- End forwarded message -----

Koz Ross <>

If you aren't using GPG, you should be!

Please don't send me Word or PowerPoint attachments.
See for why.

Proud member of the Open Wireless Movement.
Find out more at

Proud member of Peers, at . We grow freedom.

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: PGP signature

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]